Prosecutors in southern Utah have dismissed criminal charges against an excommunicated general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

At a hearing Wednesday in St. George's 5th District Court, Washington County prosecutors dismissed the case against George Patrick Lee, 64, who was charged with failure to register as a sex offender, a class A misdemeanor.

Lee was arrested last year by Washington County Sheriff's deputies as part of a crackdown on unregistered sex offenders living in Utah's Dixie. Deputies said they received a tip that Lee was living in Washington City. He had not been on the registry since 2001, despite a 1994 attempted child sex abuse conviction.

The case dragged on for months because of Lee's serious medical issues. Washington County prosecutors finally filed to dismiss the case after getting proof that he really did suffer from health problems. He has since put himself on the state's sex offender registry.

"In the interests of justice — since he did register and he is having severe medical problems — we decided to dismiss at this time," said deputy Washington County Attorney Zac Weiland.

In 1989, Lee was a member of the LDS Church's First Quorum of the Seventy when he was excommunicated for what the church would only say was "apostasy and other conduct unbecoming a member of the church." According to published accounts in the LDS Church News, Lee himself criticized the church for what he said was a misinterpretation of scriptures and the faith's neglect of Native American issues.

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