Judge is criticized for calling ex-clergyman a ‘good man’ before sentencing him for sexual assault



A Utah judge is facing criticism for comments he made last week when he sentenced a former Mormon bishop to up to life in prison for sexual assault.

Judge Thomas Low became choked up as he sentenced Keith Robert Vallejo, the Salt Lake Tribune reported in its initial story on the sentencing.

“The court has no doubt that Mr. Vallejo is an extraordinary, good man,” Low said. “But great men sometimes do bad things.”

Low sentenced Vallejo to five years to life in prison for object rape, and to consecutive sentences of one to five years in prison for 10 counts of forcible sexual abuse.

Now one of two women who testified that Vallejo inappropriately touched her is criticizing Low for his comments, report the Associated Press and the Salt Lake Tribune in a new story.

The woman said she was shocked by Low’s words and she plans to file a complaint against him. Mark Lawrence, director of Restore Our Humanity, also plans to file a complaint. He hopes that the judge will be sanctioned and possibly be required to attend training that helps him understand sexual assault victims.

Lawrence told the Salt Lake Tribune that Low “did something that we see happening over and over from position in authority dealing with these kind of cases: making the perpetrator into the victim, showing sympathy and praise for the perpetrator and trying to make him into the victim. It’s completely inappropriate.”

The prosecutor, Ryan McBride, also said Low’s comments were inappropriate. McBride said Low may have commented because more than 50 letters had been written on Vallejo’s behalf describing good things he had done.

McBride told AP he didn’t think it was wrong to acknowledge good things a defendant has done. “But I think whenever you do that in a case like this, you’ve also got to say, ‘But it doesn’t excuse what you’ve done,’ ” McBride said.

Hat tip to Sentencing Law and Policy.

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