Utah: ‘An extraordinarily good’ Mormon bishop jailed for rape
When Keith Robert Vallejo, above, was sentenced to life imprisonment for sexual abuse and rape, Utah judge Thomas Low, inset, described him as ‘an extraordinarily good man’, adding ‘but great men sometimes do bad things’.
According to the Guardian, one of Vallejo’s victim said on Friday that Low appeared to care more about the person he was convicting than he did about the victims. She said she planned to file an official complaint against him in the hope of getting him removed as a judge.
Low appeared emotional on Wednesday as he sentenced Vallejo to up to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of ten counts of forcible sexual abuse and one count of object rape.
According to this report, victim Julia Kirby, 23, said she was shocked by the judge’s sympathy.
That judge didn’t care about me. He only cared about the person he was convicting, and I think that is really kind of despicable.
Kirby agreed to have her name published to show the judge that she will not let him get away with these comments.
She said she was 19 when Vallejo, a relative, groped her multiple times when she stayed at his house while attending Brigham Young University in 2013.
The abuse occurred in Provo, a Mormon stronghold that is home to BYU. Low attended BYU, where almost all students are Mormon.
There was no indication that Low had any prior friendship or relationship with Vallejo, said Ryan McBride, the prosecutor on the case. A judge would have to disclose something like that, he said.
McBride called Low’s comment inappropriate, and it they may have come in response to more than 50 character letters sent in about Vallejo. McBride said the suspect’s brother spoke at the hearing and compared Vallejo to Jesus in making the argument that he is being wrongly convicted.
I don’t think it’s wrong to acknowledge the good things that someone has done in their lives. But I think whenever you do that in a case like this, you’ve also got to say, but it doesn’t excuse what you’ve done.
A spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Vallejo was released from his position as bishop after church leaders found out about the accusations.
Sexual assault victim advocates also expressed outrage over the comments.
Said Turner Bitton, Executive Director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
The signal that it sends to sexual violence survivors is that if you choose to disclose, that we’re still going to treat your perpetrator as if they’re a good person.