was a Mormon church member in Utah; arrested in July 1997 and charged with child sexual abuse; sentenced to prison for sexual abuse

Case Summary

01/01/97 Utah

LDS James W. Penrod was forced to return from an LDS mission and arrested for sodomy
of a child. As part of a plea agreement 18 other criminal counts of sexual abuse of minors
were dismissed. “Since he was forced to return from an LDS Church mission and arrested in
July 1997, Penrod has been housed at the Juab County Jail and then the Utah State

Hospital in Provo.” “. The judge sentenced Penrod to serve six years-to-life on one count of
sodomy of a child, a first-degree felony. In 1998, Penrod entered a plea of guilty and
mentally ill to that charge and two others. He also admitted committing sexual abuse of a
child, a second-degree felony, and providing harmful material to a minor, a third-degree
felony. His sentences for those counts will run concurrent with that for the sodomy charge. A
judge determined last year that Penrod was not mentally ill.” ” Penrod committed sexual
acts on the children just prior to leaving on an LDS Church mission to Pennsylvania and
then wrote a sexually explicit letter to a boy while serving as a missionary, the prosecutor
said.”

Sources
  1. Nephi man sent to prison despite suicide threat Sex abuser tells judge he suffers from depression
    view source details | 15 Jan 2000 | Deseret News
Sources excerpts
  • Nephi man sent to prison despite suicide threat Sex abuser tells judge he suffers from depression
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Deseret News
    Date published/accessed: 15 Jan 2000
    archive 1 | archive 2

    NEPHI -- Despite his contention that prison might drive him to suicide, a man who admitted to sexually abusing a teenage relative was sentenced Friday to spend at least six years at the Utah State Prison.

    James W. Penrod, 22, Nephi, asked 4th District Judge Lynn W. Davis to allow him to spend his sentence at a residential therapy clinic rather than in prison. Penrod suffers from severe depression, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic disorder syndrome because he was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, defense attorney Bill Hansen said.But Davis said Penrod did not meet the statutory requirements for probation. Instead, the judge said, Penrod would undergo sexual therapy and treatment for depression while in prison.

    Since he was forced to return from an LDS Church mission and arrested in July 1997, Penrod has been housed at the Juab County Jail and then the Utah State Hospital in Provo.

    Davis said Penrod would be given credit for 866 days of incarceration, meaning he has at least three-and-half years remaining on his sentence. The judge sentenced Penrod to serve six years-to-life on one count of sodomy of a child, a first-degree felony.

    In 1998, Penrod entered a plea of guilty and mentally ill to that charge and two others. He also admitted committing sexual abuse of a child, a second-degree felony, and providing harmful material to a minor, a third-degree felony. His sentences for those counts will run concurrent with that for the sodomy charge.

    A judge determined last year that Penrod was not mentally ill.

    As part of Penrod's 1998 plea agreement, 18 other criminal counts involving sexual abuse of several minors who are Penrod's relatives were dismissed. Juab County Attorney David Leavitt called the case a "tragic family meltdown."

    At the sentencing hearing Friday, Penrod's attorney tried to persuade Davis to grant probation because Penrod himself had been a victim of sexual abuse by a relative. Hansen suggested Penrod's history of being sexually abused was partially responsible.

    "Something endemic to all of this is pornography made available to children," the judge said. "There are those on crusades who attempt to protect (pornography), but I condemn it."

    While calling allegations that Penrod was abused "extremely serious," Leavitt said that would not explain or excuse Penrod's conduct. Penrod committed sexual acts on the children just prior to leaving on an LDS Church mission to Pennsylvania and then wrote a sexually explicit letter to a boy while serving as a missionary, the prosecutor said.

    Leavitt said he had a difficult time deciding whether he should recommend prison or probation with therapy for Penrod. While concern for the safety of victims was of primary importance, society also should be concerned with rehabilitating people like Penrod, he said.

    "I think everyone agrees the day will come when Mr. Penrod again will walk the streets of Nephi, Utah," Leavitt said.

    Hansen said several experts who evaluated Penrod concluded that sending him to prison might pose a threat on his life. The attorney contended that because Penrod did not use a weapon or physical force, he did not represent a threat if placed on probation and housed at a rehabilitation facility for several years.

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.