LDS Bishop, Convicted Rapist, Praised by Utah Judge

Thomas Low

Utah: Former LDS bishop Keith Vallejo was charged for having sexually abused two of his female relatives over the course of three years. During the sentencing, Fourth District Court Judge Thomas Low had very unusual reaction. He said before sentencing Vallejo: “The court had no doubt that Mr. Vallejo is an extraordinarily good man. But great men, sometimes do bad things."

One of the victims, Julia Kirby, was sitting in the court while the judge was praising the rapist. "For him to say that in a courtroom in front of the victim who was abused and raped by this man, that he is a great person, to me was unacceptable and unprofessional," Kirby told 2News by phone. According to Turner Bitton, with The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, when a person in a position like Low’s praises the predator, he essentially blames the victim.

Vallejo, who maintained his innocence throughout the trial, was convicted in February of one first-degree felony of object rape and 10 second-degree felonies of forcible sexual abuse. For the first-degree felony Vallejo was given a sentence of five-years-to-life and he was also given one-to-15 years sentences for all 10 second-degree felonies of forcible sexual abuse.

This wasn’t the first time in the case that judge did something irrational. In February, Vallejo was convicted in a jury trial, but in an unexpected twist, Low allowed the former bishop to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to remain out of custody until his sentencing two months later.

The civil rights organization, Restore Our Humanity, is now working to file a complaint against Judge Thomas Low. "This judge was clearly showing he was not independent here, is clearly showing favoritism towards the perpetrator," Mark Lawrence, head of the civil rights organization, said.

Deputy County Attorney Ryan McBride, who prosecuted the case, said: "As I listened to that, I immediately knew this would be offensive to the victim who was in the courtroom." It appears the judge garnered his respect for Vallejo from some 50 character letters sent into the judge to support the former bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to

Photo Credits: Salt Lake City Tribune

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