A tearful Lloyd Gerald Pond, his shoulders shaking and his hands trembling, appeared before the state Board of Pardons and Parole for his first hearing Tuesday, admitting he had been criminally deviant in molesting a teenager.
The former host of an LDS Church public affairs program that focused on moral and social issues, Pond apologized for the 1996 incident that led to charges of first-degree felony sodomy."I betrayed my family, I betrayed my friends, I betrayed the victim and her family. I'm profoundly sorry. I want to do whatever I can for all these people I've hurt," Pond said.
The room was packed with 27 of his supporters, friends and family who shed their own tears as Pond blew a kiss at them when he was being escorted away.
The victim did not attend but instead wrote a letter urging that Pond remain in prison until she completes high school.
The board will make a decision in the next two weeks regarding Pond's future in prison, although board chairman Michael Sibbett said Pond's psychologist recommends he serve at least an additional 18 months to complete another phase of sex offender therapy.
Pond, now 53, was host and executive producer of "Times and Seasons" a public affairs radio program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time he was accused of coercing the 14-year-old girl to perform a sex act.
The two had known each other for three years, a relationship authorities said was forged so Pond could "groom" the girl to progress in stages of advancing eroticism.
At first, she went to weekly photo sessions with Pond, with him encouraging her toward a career in modeling. The photos showed the girl in school clothes, lingerie, swim wear and underwear. Pond also encouraged her to make several sexually explicit recordings - an act Sibbett said was just as damaging.
"This allows your mind to wander, thinking the words that are spoken. It is just as devastating."
Pond's relationship with the girl culminated during an encounter at a radio station where he worked part-time as a technician. Authorities said he wrapped aluminum foil around her head so she couldn't see and tricked her into performing a sex act. The encounter led to the filing of charges, which were reduced in a plea bargain to a single count of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony.
In February 1997, Pond was sentenced to serve up to 15 years in prison.
At the hearing, Sibbett acknowledged Pond had been a model inmate, exhibiting positive behavior that dimly echoed the successes of his life on the outside.
"You had all the trappings of a very successful, passionate, understanding man," Sibbett said, noting Pond had been married for 30 years, had an esteemed career and loving family.
"You've paid a heavy price. Some would say you paid too much. Some would say you could never pay enough."
Sibbett said Pond's downfall was propelled by a long-standing, hidden sexual deviancy.
"I believe you are an individual who got caught up in this secret life," Sibbett said. "Almost a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
Despite Pond's remorse, Sibbett said he believes nothing but prison and therapy could have changed the offender's reckless path.
"I am convinced no matter how disgusted and thoughtful you were at what you had done, she would have been abused again or there would have been another victim," had she not come forward.