The Utah County Sheriff’s Office is asking victims of “ritualistic child sexual abuse” to come forward and provide information. On Tuesday, the sheriff’s office released a brief statement, noting that since April 2021, an investigation into “ritualistic child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking” in Utah County had been underway. The sheriff’s office declined Tuesday to say who or what groups are being investigated or what kind of ritualistic abuse is occurring, according to KSL.
Law enforcement officials have reported 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.”
“We are pleading with the public and encourage victims, or individuals with knowledge of these crimes, to contact the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit so that they can be offered all the assistance possible. We understand that there are individuals who have concerns for their safety and/or well-being, who have been silenced. We need your help,” the sheriff’s office in Utah’s second most populous county said Tuesday.
Federal agents are also reportedly working on the case.
Utah County Attorney David Leavitt has denied that such things are happening and wants an investigation of Sheriff Mike Smith’s handling of the allegations.
At a Wednesday press conference, the prosecutor denied any involvement after Leavitt revealed that he and his wife are named in the probe. “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.
Leavitt called one of the victims in the case “tragically mentally ill” and denied that he and his wife have ever been involved in ritualistic child sexual abuse.
One of the targets of the investigation was a therapist previously charged with a series of sex crimes against young female family members, according to Adam Herbets of Fox 13. Police said they had a taped confession, but the Utah County Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges.
“There is no organized ring of abuse, it was debunked more than 10 years ago, it was dismissed by someone who was not in any respect affiliated with me and it wasn’t even investigated in a serious way by the sex crimes task force of Utah County. That this all occurs less than one week before ballots drop in an election in which I am participating causes me tremendous concern,” Leavitt said Wednesday.
At his own press conference Wednesday, Sheriff Smith said that the Utah County Attorney had his facts wrong.
“Several times, Mr. Leavitt named himself and mentioned cannibalism and murder. This investigation is about child sex abuse,” Smith said. “I take exception to any victim coming forward and being categorized as ‘tragically mentally ill’. How dare you. These are victims of crimes who have mustered the courage to come forward and this is what you call them? Mentally ill. How dare you.”
Smith added that Leavitt’s statements may have compromised their case and intimidated any victims who may have wanted to come forward.
“I will not be resigning,” Smith said. “We won’t be intimidated by Mr. Leavitt.”
Reporting from National File.