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.

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