A Mormon bishop in Anaheim has been cleared of any wrongdoing for failing to tell police one of his parishioners had been accused of molesting young boys, a city prosecutor said Wednesday.
Assistant City Atty. Mark A. Logan said he decided late last week that the state child-abuse reporting law does not apply in regard to Bishop Victor Orvis because he does not work directly and routinely with children in an official capacity.
“The law is very specific,” Logan said. “It applies to only certain individuals--only those people involved in supervising, counseling or caring for children such as those at schools and hospitals.”
Orvis, bishop of the Church of Latter-day Saints Anaheim First Ward, said Wednesday, “I never expected there to be any other outcome. . . . There never was any question that the law did not apply here. It was the only appropriate outcome.”
Police began an investigation of Orvis last month, based on reports that he had learned of allegations involving one of his parishioners, Steven Paris, 34, but failed to report them to law enforcement authorities.
A state child-abuse law requires teachers, doctors, counselors and others who work with children to report any allegations of child abuse to “appropriate authorities” immediately by telephone and within 36 hours in writing.
Failing to report child abuse allegations is a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Although clergy members are not listed specifically in the law, legal officials have said those who work directly with children are subject to the reporting requirement.
Orvis said Wednesday that he reported the allegations to the Orange County Child Abuse Registry after attempting to investigate the matter among the parties involved.
Grant L. Hubbard, stakes president for the Anaheim church, said he was “pleased” that city officials announced their decision but criticized police officers for “acting quite improperly” in conducting the investigation in the first place.
“The impression one gets is that it was just some very poor judgment of officers involved,” Hubbard said. “Hopefully people will understand that we never were worried about any prosecution because the law is just crystal clear on this subject.
“And in fact he did report it. There was no delay or cover-up or wrongdoing of any kind.”
Paris, an active Mormon church member and airport-shuttle bus driver from Anaheim, was arrested Aug. 11 and accused of engaging in sodomy and oral copulation with seven boys, ages 5 to 11, from his neighborhood, church and family since 1982.
He has pleaded not guilty to 71 felony counts of child molestation and is to return to court Sept. 26 for a pretrial hearing.