Three more men have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against therapist Scott Owen, who was recommended and paid for by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). These new accusations follow previous reports by The Salt Lake Tribune and ProPublica, where three other men claimed that Owen had touched them inappropriately during therapy sessions. The recent accusers stated that their counseling sessions were funded by donations from church members intended to assist those in need. The LDS Church has acknowledged that it lacks a vetting process for therapists recommended by its leaders.
The disclosures come after an investigation conducted by The Salt Lake Tribune and ProPublica earlier this year, which revealed allegations of inappropriate touching by Owen. He voluntarily surrendered his mental health worker license in 2018. One of the recent accusers, Austin Millet, stated that he sought therapy from Owen in 2010 while attending Brigham Young University. Millet, who was questioning his sexuality at the time, said his bishop recommended therapy and assured him that the church would cover the expenses. Millet was referred to Canyon Counseling, where Owen worked as a co-owner and specialized in helping gay LDS men establish relationships with women. Millet alleged that the therapy sessions quickly turned physical and sexual, with Owen cuddling, kissing, and groping him.
Owen has not responded to the allegations or answered detailed questions sent to him. The previous investigation by The Salt Lake Tribune and ProPublica revealed that both Utah’s Division of Professional Licensing and LDS church officials were aware of the allegations against Owen but were slow to take action. Utah licensing officials maintain that they responded appropriately based on the evidence available. The LDS Church stated that it takes all cases of sexual misconduct seriously and marked Owen’s membership record as a confidential warning to bishops about his conduct. The church also mentioned that it allows its leaders to pay for therapy for members but could not confirm the amount paid to Owen specifically.
Sam Penrod, a spokesperson for the LDS Church, clarified that the church does not screen therapists recommended by its leaders. Instead, Family Services, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the church, maintains a list of licensed professionals that bishops can refer to when recommending therapy. Penrod emphasized that the responsibility to choose a licensed therapist lies with individual church members.