The Utah County sheriff’s office has stated that over 120 victims and witnesses have come forward since the probe began last April.
Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith announced this week that an arrest had been made in the “ritualistic sexual abuse” case. David Hamblin, a former therapist, is accused of “ritualistic sexual abuse and child sex trafficking” that is alleged to have gone on since the 1980’s.
Hamblin was apprehended on Wednesday and charged with several felonies, including one count of rape of a child, three counts of sodomy on a child, and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Hamblin was also charged with one misdemeanor count of lewdness involving a child, Law&Crime reported.
According to a graphic probable cause affidavit, a female victim in April 2022 reported to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office that she had been “repeatedly sexually assaulted” by Hamblin for years, dating back to the mid-1980’s. The victim was approximately six or seven at the time.
The victim grew up in the same neighborhood where Hamblin lived and would play with his children. Hamblin even babysat the family on multiple occasions, the victim stated.
According to the affidavit, the earliest incident she could remember involved her and two additional children being sexually abused in the basement of Hamblin’s home.
“The victim described a sexual assault where she and two other children were forced to stand in front of David Hamblin while he directed them to take turns, ‘sucking on his penis,’” the affidavit states. “David forced each child to take turns giving him oral sex while he critiqued and criticized their abilities and efficacy of what they were commanded to do. The victim described the shame that she felt and her confusion at the time of the sexual assault.”
Police said the other two victims corroborated the victim’s story when interviewed.
The victim told authorities that the second incident she could remember occurred when she was about seven or eight, just before she was baptized. The assault allegedly took place at Hamblin’s residence.
“The victim reported she was forced, headfirst, into a sleeping bag by David” before he raped her, the affidavit states. “The victim recalled feeling terror and claustrophobia because her head and upper torso were still trapped in the sleeping bag. This sexual assault ended when David, ‘made some sounds and tensed up.’ David walked away, leaving the child feeling trapped in the sleeping bag.”
In 2012, Hamblin was charged with 18 counts of sodomy and rape of a child, but those charges were ultimately dropped by the Utah County Attorney’s Office.
Sheriff Smith announced this past June that his office had been investigating allegations of “ritualistic child sexual abuse” since April 2021.
His office reported at the time that “other victims had previously reported similar forms of ritualistic sexual abuse and trafficking that occurred in Utah County, Juab County and Sanpete County during the time between 1990 and 2010.”
According to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, more than 120 victims or witnesses have come forward with allegations of widespread child sexual abuse and human trafficking in the area. “I don’t know the exact number, but it is now over 120 people who have contacted us. [Of that number], I am sure. There are likely more than 120 at this point,” Sgt. Spencer Cannon told The Epoch Times in July.
Utah County Attorney David Leavitt has pushed back against the investigation and Sheriff Smith, claiming that he and his wife have been named in the probe.
Leavitt has denied any wrongdoing and described one of the alleged victims as “tragically mentally ill” after the May 31 press release. “I learned that my wife and I were part of those allegations, allegedly that we were guilty of cannibalizing young children, and murdering young children,” Leavitt said before denying the allegations.
The prosecutor has also criticized the handling of the investigation by Sheriff Mike Smith, accusing him of conducting a politically motivated “witch hunt” in an election year.
“Mr. Leavitt named himself,” Cannon, who did not confirm or deny any names, told The Epoch Times. “What I will say, however, is that the case Mr. Leavitt referred to is not the case we began investigating in April 2021. He implies otherwise, but he is wrong,” Cannon said.
The investigation is ongoing with assistance from the FBI.