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'Marriage counselor' will wait on sentence while prosecutors retry charge, screen new charges

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 23 2012 10:48 a.m. MDT

WEST JORDAN — A man convicted of forcible sexual abuse while posing as a marriage counselor will wait for his sentence after prosecutors decided to retry one of the charges in the case.

Arturo Tenorio, 59, was convicted on one second-degree felony forcible sex abuse charge in connection with allegations that he inappropriately touched a woman he was counseling, but a mistrial was declared on a second, identical count following a jury trial in 3rd District Court. The jury deadlocked on that count and couldn't reach a verdict.

Tuesday, prosecutors told Judge Bruce Lubeck that they intend to retry that count. The alleged victim is apparently willing to testify again and a two-day trial was set to begin Jan. 23.

In light of the new trial, Lubeck opted to wait on sentencing.

"What the jury does on the count would inform me on what the correct sentence is," the judge said. "That may alter what I do in this case."

Attorneys on both sides of the case agreed that it made sense to wait on sentencing until the other charge can again go to trial.

During Tenorio's August trial, two women took the stand and each said they were referred to Tenorio by their LDS bishop and that the man presented himself as a marriage counselor, though he is not licensed as such. They each testified that their first few sessions with Tenorio also involved their husbands. Later, they said, Tenorio told them he needed to meet with them "one on one."  

They testified that the man emphasized his prior church callings, their shared faith and heritage and the fact that he was related to a general authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More than anything, though, he emphasized that these women could trust him.

But they testified that in the one-on-one counseling sessions, Tenorio often focused on the subject of their sexual relationships and eventually touched them inappropriately.

Defense attorneys contended that it was an issue of consent and that while Tenorio's actions may have been morally questionable, they weren't criminal. They emphasized that one victim in particular never asked the man to stop what he was doing and that when the other did object, Tenorio stopped.

The man has been supported by his family, and his wife is at his side at every court hearing.

"It's a long process, but he's holding up," defense attorney Ken Brown said of his client. "We plan to do that trial. This case was hard-fought when it came to (the mistrial) count and we anticipate it will be hard-fought in January."

Meantime, Brandon Simmons, an attorney with the Utah Crime Victim's Legal Clinic, said two additional alleged victims have come forward alleging "similar crimes" against Tenorio. He said those cases are currently being looked at by the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.

It is unclear what potential, additional charges could mean for the current case. With the second-degree felony conviction, the man faces a possible sentence of one to 15 years in prison.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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