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For week ended January 16, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

Former LDS Missionary Sent to Prison Despite Suicide Fear
Deseret News 15Jan00 D2
By Edward L. Carter: Deseret News staff writer

NEPHI, UTAH -- Former LDS missionary James W. Penrod, 22, will go to prison, despite the possibiliy of suicide, decided Utah's 4th District Court on Friday. Judge Lynn W. Davis said that Penrod didn't meet the statutory requirements for probation, despite Penrod's claim that prison may lead him to commit suicide.

Penrod was forced to return from an LDS mission and arrested in July 1997 after he was accused of sexually molesting several children. In 1998 he plead 'guilty and mentally ill' to three charges of child abuse and to providing harmful material to a minor. Last year a judge determined that Penrod was not mentally ill, and sentenced him to six years in prison.

With time served in the county jail and in the Utah State Hospital in Provo, where he was given psychiatric evaluations, Penrod still has at least three-and-a-half years remaining on his sentenced, which will be served in the Utah State Prison.

Penrod's attorney tried to persuade Judge Davis on Friday that Penrod, who had been a victim of child abuse himself, should be given probation. But the Judge decided that Penrod was at least partially responsible for his crimes. "Something endemic to all of this is pornography made available to children," the judge said. "There are those on crusades who attempt to protect (pornography), but I condemn it."

Juab County Attorney David Leavitt did admit that he had a difficult time deciding whether to recommend prison or probation with therapy for Penrod. He says that society must balance the safety of victims with the need to rehabilitate people like Penrod. But, Leavitt says that there is little question what will happen in the end, "I think everyone agrees the day will come when Mr. Penrod again will walk the streets of Nephi, Utah."


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