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A Mormon bishop is to appear in court next week to face accusations that he deliberately chose not to report child sexual abuse involving a member of his congregation.
Gordon Moon, who also serves as a member of Duchesne County's school board, was summoned to appear before 8th District Judge Edwin Peterson on Sept. 1. Moon is charged with one third-degree felony count of tampering with a witness, and one class B misdemeanor count of failure to report suspected child abuse.
Contacted at his home Wednesday, Moon declined to discuss specifics of the charges against him. "All I can say is that I have faith in the justice system to see this through," he said.
The charges against Moon, 43, reportedly stem from a late July meeting with a teenage member of his congregation. During the meeting, the girl allegedly revealed that she had been sexually assaulted by a teenage boy and Moon advised her not to report the assault to law enforcement.
Duchesne County Sheriff Travis Mitchell and Chief Deputy Dave Boren were out of the office Wednesday and unavailable for interviews, a secretary said. Sheriff's Detective Dan Bruso, who investigated the case, did not immediately return requests for comment.
Bruso was quoted earlier this week in the Uintah Basin Standard as saying that when the girl told her parents of Moon's counsel, they finally reported the incident to law enforcement.
When confronted by police, Moon said he did not believe the girl's disclosure needed to be reported and that the matter could be handled within the church, according to Bruso.
Scott Trotter, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Wednesday that he could not confirm reports that Moon's legal representation in the case was being handled by the church.
"I'm still waiting for clarification on Bishop Moon's legal representation and what it all means," Trotter said.
Moon declined to discuss arrangements for his legal representation but did say he was receiving unspecified assistance from the church. "We're still trying to figure things out," he said.
Earlier, the church had issued this statement when news of the allegations against Moon surfaced:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and is extremely proactive in its efforts to protect children and heal victims from this societal plague. Bishops are instructed on how to report abuse and to follow applicable law."
Moon could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the felony charge, and up to six months in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor.