Civil rights group to file complaint against judge who praised rapist during sentencing
(KUTV) The fallout over comments made by a Utah County judge who praised a convicted sex offender continues.
The group, Restore Our Humanity, is working to file a complaint against Judge Thomas Low of Utah's 4th District. Low, moments before sentencing a former LDS bishop Keith Vallejo for sexually assaulting two relatives, gave glowing praise to the convicted sex predator.
"The court has no doubt that Mr. Vallejo is an extraordinarily good man," Low said. "But great men, sometimes do bad things."
"It was appalling," said Mark Lawrence, head of the civil rights organization, Restore Our Humanity. He said the judge's remarks where insensitive, and re-victimize the victims.
"This judge was clearly showing he was not independent here, is clearly showing favoritism towards the perpetrator," Lawrence said.
Deputy County Attorney Ryan McBride, who prosecuted the case, is concerned that the judge's statements will have a chilling affect on other victims of sex crimes.
"Someone else sitting in the room who has been sexually abused, could feel like, boy if this is what it's going to be like for me then I'm not going to come forward," McBride said. He said the moment he heard the comments from the judge it raised alarms.
"As I listened to that, I immediately knew this would be offensive to the victim who was in the court room," McBride said.
Vallejo, was convicted of molesting two female relatives who where staying at his home during separate times dating back to 2013.
Some have asked if the judge and Vallejo knew each other, given Low's growing praise. The answer is "no." 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.
Lawrence said he will file his complaint against the judge sometime next week.