A man charged last week with sexually assaulting two teen girls had served as bishop of a Menifee Mormon church the victims attended, authorities said Monday, June 3.
Todd Mitchell Edwards, 48, of Murrieta, was arrested May 28 and charged with three felonies —– sexual battery, sexual penetration with a foreign object and witness intimidation, authorities said.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges Friday in Riverside Superior Court and was being held at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside with bail set at $65,000, jail and court records show.
Edwards was bishop of the Menifee Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney's office, said the victims attended Edwards' church.
George Kramer, a spokesman for the Menifee Stake of the LDS church, said Edwards was removed from his position in the church when the allegations against him came to light. Kramer could not immediately provide the dates Edwards served as bishop.
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind," Kramer said in a written statement. "Anyone who abuses a child is rightfully subject to both criminal prosecution and formal Church discipline."
Allegations against Edwards were reported to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department in December, said Sgt. Glenn Williams. He said the assaults occurred in remote areas in Menifee but declined to elaborate. One case occurred in November 2006 when the girl was 16. The other was in February 2012 with another teen girl, he said. Edwards was friends with the families of both girls, Williams said.
Investigators identified a possible third victim but the statute of limitations on filing criminal charges had run out on that case, he said. Details about the date of that incident were not available Monday.