Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Defends Stake President Against Failure to Report Child Abuse Charges

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is standing firmly behind its Harrisburg Pennsylvania Stake president, Rhett Hintze, who is facing charges of failing to report a 23-year-old sexual abuse case. The allegations stem from an incident that allegedly occurred in 2000, involving a former Latter-day Saint bishop at a Pennsylvania state park.

According to a press release from the Pennsylvania State Police, Hintze, a 50-year-old resident of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, has been charged with one count of failure to report or refer child sexual abuse. The charges claim that Hintze failed to report the abuse committed by the former bishop.

In response to the charges, church spokesman Sam Penrod issued a statement emphasizing the church’s commitment to preventing abuse and expressing support for Hintze. Penrod stated, “The charges now brought by local prosecutors for failing to report the abuse are misguided, and the church will vigorously defend him.”

Hintze, who serves as the stake president overseeing multiple congregations, is scheduled to be arraigned before Dauphin County Magisterial District Judge Wendy Grella. However, charging documents have not been made available to the media, as Hintze will only see them during the hearing.

The alleged abuse came to light through two sources: Shawn Cory Gooden, currently serving time in a Virginia prison for sexually assaulting two child relatives, and the victim himself, who reported the abuse to the police in 2023. Pennsylvania law designates religious leaders as mandatory reporters of abuse, but an exception exists for information obtained through privileged communication, commonly known as priest-penitent privilege.

Hintze, who has been the Harrisburg stake president since September 2018, is also the chief operating officer of Bravo Group, a public relations firm specializing in strategic communications. A Bravo employee confirmed that Hintze has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the charges.

Shawn Cory Gooden, the alleged perpetrator of the abuse, is currently serving a 2.5-year sentence in a Virginia prison for sexually assaulting two young relatives between 1997 and 2000. He now faces additional charges in Pennsylvania related to the sexual assault of three children in 2000.

The charges against Gooden for the alleged assault of a 12-year-old boy in a state park have been on hold since his sentencing in Virginia. Pennsylvania State Police were alerted to the abuse by Virginia investigators in September 2022. Gooden now faces 19 felony and misdemeanor charges related to the sexual assault of children in Pennsylvania.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remains committed to addressing incidents of abuse and supporting its leaders in their lawful efforts. The outcome of Hintze’s arraignment will shed further light on this case and its implications for the church and its members.

 

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

3 Responses

  1. It is unfortunate to hear about the situation involving Rhett Hintze and the failure to report a sexual abuse case. This incident highlights the importance of reporting such cases promptly and taking appropriate action to protect victims and prevent further harm.

    In a broader context, this situation emphasizes the significance of accountability and responsibility within religious organizations. It serves as a reminder that religious leaders, like any other individuals, should be held accountable for their actions and decisions.

    Furthermore, this case highlights the need for comprehensive training and education within

  2. I appreciate the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for standing firmly behind its leaders and supporting them during challenging times. It shows a commitment to loyalty and unity within the community. However, it would be beneficial for the church to address the issue of failing to report a sexual abuse case promptly and transparently. Open communication and taking appropriate action in such cases are crucial in ensuring justice and the safety of all members.

  3. It is disheartening to hear about cases like this where individuals in positions of authority fail to report instances of sexual abuse. However, it is crucial to address this problem head-on and find solutions to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.

    One potential solution could be implementing mandatory training programs for all leaders within religious organizations. These programs would educate leaders on recognizing signs of abuse, understanding their legal obligations to report, and providing resources for victims. By equipping leaders with this knowledge, they would be

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