Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Officials Dispute Police Claim That Accused Sex Offender Was Leader
Seattle WA Times 27Apr00 D2
By Ian Ith: Seattle Times Eastside bureau
REDMOND, WASHINGTON -- Redmond Stake President Steve Richardson is
disputing police statements to the press here characterizing a
62-year-old businessman and church member as a leader. James
Richardson, who is no relation to the stake president, plead not
guilty yesterday to the sexual abuse of a young woman with Downs
syndrome that he met through the church.
"He's not a church leader," said Steve Richardson, president of the
Redmond Stake. "He's been involved in various activities, just as any
other member would. But he's held nothing that can be characterized
as a leadership role." Stake President Steve Richardson said that
while James Richardson taught a few Sunday-school classes, he was not
a leader in the LDS Church, and hadn't actually taught any classes
for about five years.
James Richardson was charged in King County Superior Court with a
single count of indecent liberties. He faces 15 to 20 months in jail
if convicted. He is free on $25,000 bond. Prosecutors claim
Richardson, owner of a landscaping business, was discovered by the
victim's mother in her daughter's bedroom. The victim has the mental
development of a preschooler. But Richardson claimed in an interview
that the woman attacked him. He says that she was known to force
herself on older men.
But the victim's older brother says this isn't possible. "She is 23,
but that's deceptive because she . . . has the mind of a 3-year-old,"
said the 27-year-old brother, who lives in Minnesota. "It would be no
different if he'd attacked a child in a preschool. It's a horribly
Meanwhile, church members are offering support to both the victim's
family and James Richardson's family. The terms of James Richardson's
bail prohibit him from coming near the young woman or her family, but
the Church will make sure he is not left out of the community,
according to stake president Steve Richardson, "We won't turn our
back on him," he said.