Kearns man who posed as Mormon marriage counselor sentenced to jail

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 12 2013 3:05 p.m. MST

WEST JORDAN — The woman didn't speak to the judge directly Tuesday. Instead, a letter was read on her behalf.

"He's a monster disguised as an angel," she wrote of Arturo Tenorio, 59.

The man was convicted of using his reputation and influence in the LDS Church to gain work as a marriage "counselor" and then manipulated that trust to take advantage of four women he counseled or employed. He was not a licensed counselor.

Tenorio was convicted by a jury of two counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony, but was charged with two additional identical charges Tuesday after two more victims came forward. He immediately pleaded guilty to both of the new counts as part of an agreement that will require him to forgo any appeals and serve two years in jail.

Third District Judge Bruce Lubeck added another year to the jail term, ordering Tenorio to spend a total of three years in jail and five years on probation. The probation period would run simultaneous to the jail sentence. Tenorio was immediately taken into custody.

"I don't know what happened here," the judge said. "I have no idea, but I generally attribute it to weakness as opposed to evil, but the consequences have been far-reaching."

Still, he said he didn't think Tenorio's behavior required prison. He said he felt he ordered a harsh sentence indicative of the trust that was violated.

I think you've been a good man for most of your life," Lubeck told Tenorio. "You're a man and some of us, I guess, just don't think right sometimes."

Each of the man's four victims were in court and expressed the anxiety and stress they have experienced since Tenorio touched them inappropriately while acting as their marriage counselor or employer.

The two new forcible sexual abuse charges that Tenorio pleaded guilty to Tuesday were for crimes that occurred during the same time period (2007 through 2011) when the original two victims were abused. The victims performed secretary work for Tenorio, and one of them also sought counseling from him.

"It's affected my life emotionally, physically, spiritually," one woman said. "I believe he's a criminal because he's violated the law not once, not twice, not three times, but four times. He's pleaded guilty. … I just hope he goes behind bars for a long, long time."

Two of the women testified that Tenorio quickly requested that he counsel them separately from their husbands and would focus on sexual topics, before demonstrating sexual positions on them or touching them. One woman said she has "psychological wounds" from what happened.

"This is a man who used all of his influence with the church," she said. "I pray … this man will never have the opportunity to be around innocent, trusting people again."

One woman said she struggled to engage in even friendly hugs with anyone after Tenorio's unwanted and inappropriate advances. Another said she can't trust anyone and has become more strict with her children.

"I was completely out of sorts as a wife and mother," one woman said. "A lot of members of the church, a lot of us, believed in the integrity of this man."

Tenorio said he wanted to apologize for what he had done and said he pleaded guilty to accept accountability. "I acknowledge that I did something very morally wrong and I accept the responsibility of this action," he said.

Before the sentencing, the man was flanked by his wife and children, who kissed and hugged him. He said he hopes that his victims will forgive him one day.

"I acknowledge these actions offended them," he said. "I hurt them and I accept the cause of this and I feel very sorry, deeply sorry. I feel sad and I feel bad for them."

Defense attorney Ken Brown asked that the judge sentence Tenorio to the two years that were agreed upon. He said his client was fundamentally good, but just came to think he could do what he wanted with women.

"He's a fundamentally good person, but he did abuse these women," Brown said. "He did touch them and damage them psychologically."

Prosecutor Josh Player, however, argued that Tenorio deserved prison, or at least to serve a year for each of his victims.  

"The defendant's behavior was awful," he said. "It was terrible. These women came to him for help. They trusted him."

After the hearing, one of the victims said she didn't think the sentence was long enough, but she was relieved that Tenorio will not be free to manipulate and use others.

"I'm just glad he's put away and I think it's time for all of us to move on," she said. "Hopefully he'll think of what he did and agree that it was morally wrong and legally wrong."

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

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