DRAPER, Utah — A bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been charged with felonies and removed from his position in the church amid allegations he sexually abused juveniles in his congregation.
According to documents filed in Third District Court Wednesday, Jeffrey Byron Head, 54 of Draper, is charged with two counts of forcible sex abuse and two counts of lewdness.
The charges indicate the victims are under the age of 14 and the alleged offenses occurred between May 2016 and August of 2017.
Charging documents indicate several alleged victims reported inappropriate behavior and touching from Head, and at least one victim said he felt pressured to remain in the situation because Head was a friend and “a leader for him to look up to…”
Head allegedly touched one victim’s genitals under the guise of curiosity about a recent surgery. Two other individuals corroborated that account.
That same individual told police Head took him out for milkshakes, during which time he would ask him about masturbation and massage his shoulders.
Another alleged victim told police Head “would discuss sex and masturbation all the time.” The juvenile told police Head would ask him inappropriate questions about his intimate encounters with girls.
At one point he said Head locked him in a car with him and told him “we have to figure this masturbation thing out. You’re not leaving until we figure this out.”
The charging documents state Head went on to discuss the victim’s and his own masturbation habits.
The victim said he could have left but did not because “Defendant was supposed to be a family friend, a leader for him to look up to, and that Defendant would be angry if [Victim] ran away from defendant.”
That same boy told police that one week later Head entered his home without permission, sat on a bed near the victim and and discussed masturbation with the victim as he was shirtless. The juvenile said he had to ask Head to leave three times before the man exited the home. The juvenile’s younger sibling corroborated the account.
A warrant has been issued for Head’s arrest and bail is set at $150,000. As of Thursday afternoon, Head has not yet been arrested.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded to the charges Thursday.
In addition to the statement reproduced in its entirety below, a spokesman confirmed Head was a bishop but did not provide any further details about the timeline for when the LDS Church became aware of the allegations.
“Abuse of any kind cannot be tolerated in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Anyone who engages In such behavior is rightfully subject to criminal prosecution and will also face discipline from the Church, including loss of Church membership.
Upon learning of these allegations, we took steps to notify authorities and to support their investigation into this matter. This individual was also immediately removed from any position in the Church.”