Mormon bishop takes deal in failure to report child abuse case

The Salt Lake Tribune/March 14, 2012

A Mormon bishop accused of failing to report the alleged abuse of a child in his congregation has taken a plea deal that could end with the misdemeanor's dismissal.

Amado Gress Rojas, 62, entered into a "diversion agreement" Monday in Provo Justice Court. The deal with prosecutors means Rojas can ask the court to dismiss the single class B misdemeanor count if he has no criminal violations over the next six months.

According to defense attorney Mike Esplin, who spoke to The Salt Lake Tribune last month about the charges, the alleged victim and three other girls spoke to Rojas during a meeting in September. The girl reported she had been "touched over the clothing" during a church activity.

Esplin, who could not be reached for comment this week, said Rojas told the girl to tell her parents and return with them for another meeting. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bishop then spoke with the alleged abuser, who denied wrongdoing.

The girl, meanwhile, told a school teacher who reported the alleged abuse. Felony charges were filed and later dropped after Utah County prosecutors spoke with witnesses who were at the church event.

"It wasn't his intent to try and cover up any sexual abuse and there's no evidence he did that," Esplin said of Rojas in February.

Provo City Attorney Steve Schreiner said "based on conversations with the family, we felt the diversion was the appropriate resolution."

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