Friday, November 9, 2012

Former LDS Missionary Matthias Heinrichs Imprisoned For Two Years For "Grooming" Three Underage Girls For Sex In The United Kingdom

A former missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been sentenced to two years in prison for activities related to the sexual grooming of three underage girls in the United Kingdom. Judge John Potter pronounced the sentence in Bradford Crown Court on November 8th, 2012 after Matthias Heinrichs, a Dutch national now 23 years of age, pleaded guilty to one count of meeting a child following sexual grooming and two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. The LDS Church actively cooperated in the investigation. The media story, which is incomplete, was published by The Telegraph & Argus; one fault in the story is that the Argus did not make it clear that Heinrichs is a FORMER missionary.

Although the media story does not detail when the incidents took place, Heinrichs has a blog left over from his mission which shows that he was assigned to the England Leeds Mission from July 2009 through July 2011, so the incidents took place during that time period. The charge of meeting a child following sexual grooming stemmed from an encounter he had with a girl eight years younger than him. Matthias got to know the girl and her family during the course of proselyting in Keighley. After he returned to the Netherlands at the end of his mission, Heinrichs communicated with the girl by text, email and Facebook. He then returned to Keighley and the girl sneaked out to meet him. They drank milkshakes and he preached to her and chastised her, pointing out scripture from the Book of Mormon. After returning again to the Netherlands, Heinrichs incited her to take indecent photos of herself and send them to him. No sexual contact ever took place between the two.

The two charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity stemmed from contact Heinrichs made with two girls, aged 12 and 13. At first they thought him good fun, but then found his messages inappropriate and “creepy”. No sexual contact took place in this case either.

In mitigation, Sophie Drake, Heinrichs’ barrister, said he was of previous good character and committed to serving his church, noting that he never touched the girls sexually. Heinrichs' blog, Matthi's Mission, seems to validate that conclusion; a brief scan of the blog indicates Heinrichs was an enthusiastic and dedicated missionary fully committed to sharing the Gospel to the best of his ability. The first three pages of posts I scanned did not reveal any untowards preoccupation with or physical attraction towards any underage girls. Consequently, if Heinrichs retains his penitent attitude and cultivates a strong relationship with the Lord during his imprisonment, his potential for successful rehabilitation seems quite high. Heinrichs' current Church membership status is not disclosed, but since no physical contact between him and his victims took place, I would think the strongest penalty he might have incurred from a disciplinary council would be disfellowshipment rather than outright excommunication. The LDS Church does not customarily publicize the results of disciplinary council hearings.

After the hearing, Detective Constable Sonia Hutchinson of the Child and Public Protection Unit, said “We welcome the custodial sentence given to Heinrichs today and hope it will send a message to others who try to groom young people in this fashion. I would like to praise the victim in this case for her conduct and courage during the court process and the Church of Jesus Christ [of] Latter Day Saints for their co-operation in assisting the investigation.”

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello

Your article tries hard to respond to the issues raised in the news article. Unfortunately you are not in a position to do this fully as the article in the paper is incomplete and inaccurate in a number of areas. I am able to state this because I am the mother of the 13 year old girl mentioned.
from the information available to you, you seem to have concluded that heinrichs was a slightly misguided young man who did not cause harm, instead of what he actually is- a predatory sex offender. It is correct that he is a "former" missionary in the sense that he is not currently serving a mission. He did however abuse the respect and trust afforded to a return missionary to groom girls for sex. My daughter was the first to disclose inappropriate messages. She said that she had allowed the messages to continue as long as she did because he was a return missionary. He also used manipulation on her and the others in a very controlling way and manner in which I would not like to disclose in print. When my daughter and the main girl first discussed the matter she reported to my daughter that sexual contact DID take place. Perhaps her family decided not to disclose this to protect her which is their business and right to do so. He had told the poor girl that he loved her and that they would get married as soon as she was old enough, despite the fact that he had a fiance at home. He not only made disgusting sexual allusions to these girls but also to several older girls in the ward. This was not included in the charges because the girls were of age. I would like to see your opinion now that you are aware of some of (but not all ) of the gravity of what took place

Jack Mormon said...

Thanks for your response, and I'm sorry to hear your daughter was victimized. Yes, the Argus story was incomplete in many ways, and distinctly left the impression that there was no sexual contact.

If there was sexual contact, then I would think Heinrichs would have been excomunicated outright rather than merely disfellowshipped. But the LDS Church does not disclose the results of disciplinary councils publicly, so we won't know unless Heinrichs ever chooses to disclose it.

If Heinrichs is ever re-baptized into the Church, Church procedures will call for his membership records to be annotated so that future bishops won't put him in a position to have unsupervised contact with kids while at Church or at any Church-supervised function.

Anonymous said...

Hello,
I live in the boys home ward and had allways a bad feeling about him. I would like to inclose that here in Holland he is being potrayed as the victim ( how sick)
Also that the leaders of the church there are incompitant, and that the girls came onto him.
(Sick)
My sympathy to Anonymous.
Jack how do you know he was disfellowshipped?
Ben Gunn

Anonymous said...

I am a LDS from Holland and Matthias is an acquaintance of mine. I was shocked to hear this news like many were. But nobody I've spoken so far have said he was victimized. Most are just shocked he would do such a thing, which only makes sense.

I was a missionary in Holland, so I know most church members and I don't know anyone who would accept the 'excuse' that the girls came unto him.

Diederik Linders

Anonymous said...

Well I'm from the ward the girls are in and I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that it's all cannon fodder. Matt did not deserve this!! 2 of the girls was infactuated with him while he was serving his mission in my ward and I had to tell one of them to back off coz she was too young at a fashion show in April 2011 as she was gushing about him and stuff saying how she wanted to marry him. in my eyes Matt is nothing but the victim of these very vindictive girls. I'll always love and cherish Matt like the brother he is too me nothing that is getting said will ever change that! He is a good person and was a good missionary.! nothing will change the way I see him. He did not touch any of the girls

Anonymous said...

This story is so incomplete and inacurate, it's not even funny. I hear all kinds of people expres their opinions but no one speaks about facts, for example:

The girl who charged the ex-missionary IS a member of the church. She has been labelled with several personality disorders in the past.

The "trial" if you can really call it that way, consisted of the judge who already had made up his mind reading out the verdict. An actual trial never took place, the boy didn't even have the chance to defend himself or set right the inacuracies in the report. They didn't even let him speak. England as a nation should be ashamed for conducting so called trials like this. It's a disgrace! I'm not saying he is innocent or guilt but what any outsider can see from the facts is that he was not even granted his civil rights throughout the proces. No evidence was EVER provided throughout the trial or acusations........I wonder how many people have gone to jail by another person saying they were guilty of something. I remember a time in history when "justice" was conducted this way. When people were acused without evidence and then sentenced without a trial. Oh yeah, it was called the spanish inquisition.

But I'm sure teenage girls (even with severe psychological problems) are always fair and honest in their acusations. :)

Anonymous said...

I know him very well. I have had contact with some of his direct family members and with him himself in the process that he was waiting in England. He is not a liar. It seems unjust to me that he arrives in England, is picked up at the airport by the police, which take his passport and treat him disrespectfully, and then he has to wait for months (without permission to leave the country) to find out what he is being accused of. What the heck! He didn't even know what they accused him of!!! For months!!! Of course he didn't know, because otherwise he wouldn't go to England to take the risk anyway.


Out of all the years that I know him, he never had tendencies to do what they accused him of. To my understanding his Facebook account was hacked, his trial was one-sided, the girl felt rejected and took it out on him, and his lawyer advised him to admit he did it, even though he was innocent, just to get a lower penalty.

His human and civil European rights were not respected, even though there was no actual proof.

The stories I heard from him and other members about the girl and her family (several signs like cutting herself, borderline tendencies, needy, and lying)... there are so many motives... it is sad that still innocent people are put into jail.

But now that I think about it, I have heard of many other missionaries who got sued for sexual crimes when they just lost sight of their companion. In this world with all the pedophiles out there all over the newspapers, how many times does the law decide in favor of a cunning, lying girl or woman against an innocent guy who doesn't stand a chance against those kind of lawsuits? What I think is interesting is that so many people who know nothing about the case, just assume he is guilty, because the media says so.... something to think about....

Sometime in this life maybe, but most likely in the next, the innocent will have their justice and the guilty will repent or pay.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree with everything you say about the girl!! She dose self arm and is needy and dose lie all the time and most definitely has issues with her personalities which are many!!! I also agree that the innocnet matthias will most definitely have his justice in the next life and that the guilty party will also have to answer there actions to heavenly father on there head be it what they have done. Those people who truly know matthias know that he would never do such things. He was a loving missionary who loved to serve the lord and do the work that needed doing here. His mind was always on the work he did while here serving I know that because I got to know him very well while he did the lords work and I know that all this that as been said about him is because she was in love with him and he knocked her back and told her that it would never happen! Because she's too young!.. im from keighley and I can say with my head held high that the girl and her family have missed church pretty much every week since this came about.. why would you hide of your the innocent one I find my self asking every week day in day out?? When they do attend church there is almost at least two members missing which from a family of 4 active members is noticeable and its only been since this came out makes me question why.. to ashamed maybe? ? Cant face the heat jump out of fire??

Im disgusted with the law have treated matthias. Hes didn't and doesn't deserve any of this. This is has happened because of an immature little girl who thought she stood a chance with a ex missionary and he said no way never! And shes wrecked his life!

I'll always be there for matthias no matter what beacuse I know it is unjust whats happening to him!!

Anonymous said...

Could i just say how very dare you. All of you. You make me sick. Im one of the victims of this and let me tell you, i didnt not lead him on, i said multiple times im too young, im only 13 (15 now) but all i got in respone was "age doesnt matter" and youre "ready when youre ready". Some members of the congrigation, heard him say to people, and i quote, "if theyre old enough to bleed, theyre old enough to breed". Can you please tell me how that is innocent?

I can relate to what you are saying about the main girl involved, yes she has had some issues and yes i do not get on well with her. But she is a good person. You have no right to judge her for things she has done to herself or whatever, she wasnt lying. I saw the messages and everything that went on between those two and Heinrichs certainally instigated it.

Am i right in thinking that you think there was no evidence put forward?! The main girls computer was taken, along with all three of our phones and all out facebook passwords. We had video interviews taken at the police station and were waiting to be called as witnesses. Youre right in saying there was no trial but that was because he pleaded GUILTY.

"he'd never say things like that" - oh really?! If i could screen print my messages and attatch them on here i would, do you think talking about my underwear being all over the bathroom floor and how im apparently too shy to show me them whilst im wearing them is normal conversation?! He asked me for "no strings attatched fun" and told me that he would jump me and id wake up to him laying next to me. No this was not hacking. How do i know? We always had conversations about when he was over here and how it is over there. Specific facts were mentioned that people cant make up.

I am APPAULED that people could say such things, but i am truely sickened by the comments people made claiming to be from my ward.

To all of you reading this supposidly from my ward, if you agree with the above comments and believe me and the other 2 girls mentined are lying, please, i dont mean to be rude, but ask US what happened first, and if after reading this you still feel that way, please politely never speak to me again, im sure you know who i am.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I can understand why people who think they know Heinrichs find all this hard to accept but it seems to me that he probably was guilty AS CHARGED. If there was no evidence he would not have been advised to plead guilty. If he had done more than he was charged with I would expect him to have been charged with more.
What I think is sad here is that the law presumes that above the age of consent people are mature enough to know better - as it should do - but that isnt always the case. Some of you have shamefully implied that the victim led him on. That could well be true - vulnerable girls around that age can do that. But as the adult he would still be expected to not reciprocate. Sadly it seems he also had some weaknesses and did not keep the distance he should have but instead played on it and manipulated them. I have no doubt that he honestly set out on his mission with the intent to do good but gave in to personal weakness and paid a heavy price. I hope the girls involved are able to heal and that after paying his debt to the law, Heinrichs, who like everyone is a mixture of good and bad, is able to move on with his life and make a contribution to the world.

Anonymous said...

As the main victim of this I wanna say how sick it is that you are all talking about this and how disgusted i am that informations which was not diclosed to the press has been posted on here. Move on people do bad things

Anonymous said...

I personally know an elder who was the elders zone leader when he was on his mission. There was a change in the mission president and the previous one had knowledge that henirichs had asked other girls (adults) for nude pictures in other areas on his mission.

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