was a former Mormon bishop in Harrisville, Utah when he was charged with sexually abusing three children; some of the abuse took place while he was bishop; sentenced in 2008 to up to 30 years in prison for child sexual abuse

Case Summary

Sean McCleve was an LDS bishop in Harrisville, Utah.

In December 2008, McCleve was sentenced to up to 30 years in prison after admitting to sexually molesting three sisters (ages 6, 8 and 12) in Weber County. The mother of a 6-year-old child came forward as well shortly afterward.

According to police, McCleve used his position of trust as a Mormon bishop to molest the little girls.

In 2010, McCleve’s wife filed for divorce.

Thanks to your donations, FLOODLIT has obtained court documents in McCleve’s case.

A police probable cause affidavit in McCleve’s case reads in part:

“The statement of [victim], that in approximately 1994, when she was 7 years old, her uncle, defendant TIMOTHY MCCLEVE, would come to her residence in West Valley City, Salt Lake County. [Victim] states that the defendant would take her in his vehicle and let her sit on his lap an [sic] steer the vehicle. [Victim] states that while on the defendant’s lap he would touch her thigh and vaginal area over the clothes. [Victim] states that on another occasion the defendant was at her residence and took her into a bedroom. [Victim] states that the defendant pulled up her night gown and ‘played down there.'”

from the Salt Lake Tribune on 2007-03-28:

” Police say LDS bishop used trust to molest sisters
Chief says man knew when parents were away and would visit kids then

The Salt Lake Tribune/March 28, 2007
By Nate Carlisle

As the one-time bishop of the local LDS ward, many people in Harrisville know Timothy O’Sean McCleve.

Residents of the small Weber County community turned to him for guidance and counseling and advice. Police say he used that trust to gain access to three sisters he is accused of molesting.

McCleve was charged Monday – his 51st birthday – with three counts of forcible sex abuse.

The charges, filed in 2nd District Court in Ogden, carry a possible sentence of life in prison.

And more charges could follow. Harrisville Police Chief Max Jackson said Ogden police also have opened a case on McCleve.

Jackson said an Ogden investigator has e-mails between McCleve and a girl who was a teenager when McCleve was her bishop. The e-mails suggest the two had a relationship, Jackson said.

McCleve, who went by “Sean,” served as bishop until 2004, said Jackson, who was a member of his congregation. Most bishops serve about five years.

Jackson said McCleve maintained friendships and positions of trust within Harrisville, including one family who had girls ages 6, 8 and 12. McCleve knew when the parents were away, Jackson said, and would come over to visit the children.

“He just kind of drops in and is just friendly with the children,” Jackson said.

Only older children were around to supervise, Jackson said, and that’s when McCleve allegedly molested the three girls.

The alleged abuse began in July 2006, Jackson said. Then earlier this month, the girls were watching a news report about a Riverton teacher who was arrested on suspicion of child molestation.

“The kids were watching the news, and just kind of off the cuff one of the children, a little gal, made a disclosure to her parents,” Jackson said.

Two other girls told their parents similar stories about McCleve, Jackson said.”

from KSL on 2008-09-24:

“A former LDS Bishop in Harrisville has pleaded guilty to molesting children from his church ward. Originally Timothy McCleve pleaded not guilty to several sex abuse charges, but later he struck a deal with prosecutors.

It’s a mystery why McCleve changed his mind, but we know victims were ready to testify in a trial.

In March 2007, McCleve molested three sisters from his ward. The little girls were abused in their home when their parents were gone. The girls came forward after seeing media reports of sexual abuse involving school teacher Frank Lane Hall.

After that a fourth victim came forward, a 21-year-old college student that used to be McCleve’s neighbor. She says he abused her when she was 6.”

from the Salt Lake Tribune on 2008-12-17:

“A former Harrisville LDS bishop who sexually molested three Weber County sisters — whom he frequently visited at home while their parents were away — was sentenced Wednesday to prison for up to 30 years.

Timothy O’Sean McCleve, 53, got the maximum sentence from 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones, who ordered two counts of second-degree felony sexual abuse of a child to run consecutively.

Defense attorney Randall Skeen asked for probation and a year in jail, citing McCleve’s “extensive record of community service,” as well a psycho-sexual evaluation indicating McCleve was “treatable and manageable within the community.”

But the judge rejected that option because of the number of victims.

McCleve used his influence as a one-time bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to visit the three sisters — ages 6, 8 and 12 at the time of the abuse — and molest them, according to charging documents.

Also, a 21-year-old woman came forward to say McCleve had abused her as a 6-year-old child.

The abuse of the sisters began in July 2006, Harrisville Police Chief Max Jackson has previously told The Salt Lake Tribune.

In March 2007, one of the girls reported the abuse to her parents while watching a news report about a Riverton teacher arrested on suspicion of child molestation. The other two girls then verified their sister’s story, Jackson said.

McCleve was initially charged with three counts of first-degree felony aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Prosecutors later added a fourth count of second-degree sexual abuse of a child after the 21-year-old said she also was abused as a child.

In September, McCleve pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a child and the other counts were dismissed.

McCleve was a bishop until 2004, according to Jackson, who was a member of McCleve’s ward. Most LDS bishops serve for about five years.

Skeen noted that the parents of the three girls were “extremely gracious” toward McCleve during the sentencing hearing.

According to Skeen, the girls’ father told the judge: “I love him like a brother. I don’t hate him. But we do need to protect my daughters.””

from the Deseret News on 2008-12-17:

“OGDEN — His lips trembling and barely able to speak, Timothy O’Sean McCleve looked across the courtroom at the mother of his victims.

“From the deepest part of my heart I am truly sorry,” he said.

McCleve was sentenced Wednesday to a pair of one-to-15 year prison terms after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a child, a second-degree felony. McCleve was the former bishop of the Harrisville LDS Church ward that the girls he sexually abused attended. Police said he would often stop by their home while their parents were away.

“He does admit the allegations. He pleaded guilty because he was guilty,” McCleve’s attorney, Randall Skeen, told the judge.

McCleve, 53, sought probation and said in court he had already been attending therapy sessions. That therapist reported he was treatable and didn’t believe he was a predator, Skeen said.

“We’re not dealing with a terrible, awful human being,” he said Wednesday. “We’re dealing with a human being that did some terrible, awful things.”

Weber County prosecutors took exception, saying that others have come forward to say they were sexually abused by McCleve going back as far as 15 years ago.

“The position the defendant used to gain access is so absolutely deplorable,” prosecutor Bill Daines said.

Speaking to the judge, McCleve sought to “put right what I have done wrong.”

“I recognize and accept full responsibility of my actions. I am the owner of them and the man responsible for them,” he said.

For their part, the family of the three girls victimized said they do not hate him — but asked for him to be put in prison.

“However, we do not want him to be able to hurt others with his sickness,” the victims’ mother said. “This has made our girls feel trapped and ashamed for the last 21 months, when it should be him having those feelings and not the victims.”

She said that since McCleve has been free pending sentencing, her daughters have felt withdrawn, suicidal and full of anger. One still could not face him in court, she said.

Still, she said, they pray for McCleve, too.

“I still have no anger towards him,” the girls’ father said. “I love him still.”

In sentencing McCleve, Judge Ernie Jones noted that the sex abuse happened repeatedly, with one girl being victimized a dozen times, another 14 times. Two others had come forward reporting abuse dating back to 1977.

“These kids are scarred for life,” he told McCleve.

Addressing McCleve’s one-time ecclesiastical status, he said: “They looked up to you.”

As the sentencing wrapped up, a man interrupted court by applauding as handcuffs were slapped on McCleve. Outside court, the victims’ family hugged each other. “

  1. Former LDS bishop pleads guilty to sex abuse - KSL - 2008-09-24
    view source details | |
  2. Former LDS bishop sentenced for child sex abuse - Salt Lake Tribune - 2008-12-17
    view source details | |
  3. Ex-bishop in Harrisville gets prison for sex abuse - Deseret News - 2008-12-17
    view source details | |
  4. Former LDS bishop sentenced for molesting young girls
    view source details | 17 Dec 2008 | KSL
  5. Police say LDS bishop used trust to molest sisters - Salt Lake Tribune - 2007-03-28 - cited at Cult Education - accessed 2023-02-02
    view source details | |
Sources excerpts

Mormon Sexual Abuse Map

International map of locations where active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints perpetrated or allegedly perpetrated sexual abuse or other sex crimes, or where LDS leaders failed or allegedly failed to help abuse survivors.