was a prominent Mormon church member in Salt Lake City, Utah; was bishop twice of the Grant 6th ward; from 1957 to 1962, was in the Utah State Legislature; served as Salt Lake County Clerk from 1968 to 1983; died in 1991; allegedly raped a relative in Salt Lake City in the early 1980s

Case Summary

William Evans was a prominent Mormon church member in Salt Lake City, Utah who died in 1991.

He was bishop twice of the Grant 6th ward, and a counselor in the Grant Stake presidency.

From 1957 to 1962, Evans was in the Utah State Legislature. He then served as Salt Lake County Clerk from 1968 to 1983. Before that, he worked for Safeway Stores for 35 years.

John, a relative of Evans, told FLOODLIT that Evans raped another relative in Salt Lake City in the early 1980s. John is a pseudonym; the source requested to remain anonymous.

The victim lived with John’s family for a time. John said he confirmed that the abuse happened with the victim’s father and older sibling.

LDS church leaders were told about the sexual abuse, according to John. Two adults in the victim’s extended family reported the abuse to Evans’s bishop. The bishop called Evans in, and John believes Evans lied to the bishop about the abuse.

After that interview, Evans excoriated the victim and blamed them for almost ruining his life, John said. The victim then allegedly told their father, older sibling and another adult relative who knew of the abuse never to speak about it again.

After Evans suffered a debilitating stroke and was confined to a nursing home, the same two adult relatives from before allegedly reported Evans’s abuse to a neighbor, Glen Elden VanWagenen (d. 2002). VanWagenen, a former bishop, worked for the LDS Church Welfare and Missionary Departments. Glen allegedly said that the two relatives should just let the matter lie, that they shouldn’t report the abuse to authorities, and that God would take care of Evans in the next life.

When Evans died, the family of one of his children received a letter of condolence from the Church’s First Presidency, stating that Evans was a great man who’d given much to the Church, John said, even though Evans was reportedly a “noxious, unpleasant person […] always rushed [and] had an explosive temper.”

Whenever Evans visited John’s family, he rarely stayed more than 10 minutes. John remembers as a child seeing Evans outside his home calling John’s mother a “goddamn bitch.”

FLOODLIT is seeking more information about William Sterling Evans and his alleged sexual abuse. If you have any information, please contact us. You can also report anonymously.

Sources
  1. Death: William Sterling Evans
    view source details | 29 Oct 1991 | Deseret News
Sources excerpts
  • Death: William Sterling Evans
    Source type: Website
    Publisher: Deseret News
    Date published/accessed: 29 Oct 1991
    archive 1 | archive 2

    William Sterling Evans, age 82, died Monday, October 28, 1991 in Salt Lake City.

    Born April 15, 1909 in Spanish Fork, Utah to William Morgan and Mary Ellen Davis Evans. Married Mabel Ence, January 20, 1933 in the Manti LDS Temple; she died July 30, 1979. He was a High Priest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having twice served as bishop of the Grant 6th Ward and as a counselor in the Grant Stake Presidency. He served as Salt Lake County Clerk from 1968 to 1983. Prior to that he was employed by Safeway Stores for 35 years. From 1957 to 1962 he was in the Utah State Legislature.

    [...]

    Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 1991, 12 noon, in the Grant 6th Ward, 3487 So. 1300 East.

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.