in Iowa on February 4th, 2013 to answer charges of child sex abuse. The alleged abuse occurred before the individual deployed on his mission in August 2012. This post combines and summarizes stories from a number of media outlets hyperlinked throughout the post.
On February 4th, Brandon Scott Cordero was arrested by police in Kaysville, UT and initially booked into the Davis County Jail on four felony charges for sexually abusing a child. At the time, his bail was set at $15,000. Since that time, the number of charges has been reduced to two, both first-degree felonies, but his bail was increased to $100,000 effective February 8th. The Ogden Standard-Examiner reported that the alleged victim is a 10-year-old girl, although the charging documents merely say the girl was under 14. The abuse is alleged to have occurred numerous times between November 23rd, 2010, and May 31st, 2012, and included attempts by Cordero to put his penis near or in the girl's vagina.
The LDS Church has fully cooperated with authorities in this case. On February 18th, they released the following statement:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns abuse of any kind. Elder Brandon Scott Cordero was released from his mission and sent home immediately when the charges against him came to light. The alleged abuse took place before his mission and had nothing to do with his calling as a missionary.
Counseling and other Church resources will be available to the victim and family members to help in the healing process. Church leaders will continue to cooperate with authorities in their investigation of this matter.
On February 8th, Cordero waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Although no trial date has yet been set, another hearing in the case is scheduled for March 14th before Judge Thomas L. Kay in Farmington. If Cordero is convicted on both counts, he could be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison as well as lose his Church membership. If he is acquitted, then the LDS Church may offer Cordero the opportunity to resume his mission.
Cordero's family believes the rape charges are inaccurate. Family members said while Cordero has spoken to an LDS bishop about the incident, he did not confess to the rape charges. They say the issue is between Cordero, his bishop and the authorities. "He has demonstrated great faith in all this and that's what's keeping us strong," family members said.
Numerous comments have been appended to the KSL, Fox13, and Tribune stories. One question frequently posed by skeptics and outright anti-Mormons is "what happened to the power of discernment that Cordero's bishop was supposed to have when he interviewed Cordero for his mission?" One person posted a comment on KSL which sheds further light on the interview process:
escc posted 1 day ago:
...You can go on a mission if you've had intercourse.
First: they do NOT ask you in an interview to go on a mission if you've had sex at any time in your past. They only ask if you are currently obeying the law of chastity. So, if you did have sex years ago, repented with a Bishop, and move and have a new Bishop interview you for your mission; he won't even ask about sex.
Second: you CAN go even if your current Bishop handled the sex repentance process. Some have to go through a council, but they can go...
So if Cordero was merely asked if he was currently obeying the law of chastity at the time of the interview, he could have truthfully answered Yes. Or he simply could have lied to the bishop; that's not exactly unheard of.
But there could be another reason why the Holy Spirit did not trip a red flag in the mind of Cordero's bishop; namely, the possibility that Cordero might actually be INNOCENT of child rape. Because sex with a child is considered so repulsive by normal people, it is difficult for us to remember that the judicial presumption of innocence also extends to those accused of child rape. The standard for filing charges is merely showing probable cause, which is a lower standard than that of conviction, which requires proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. As to why the victim and her parents decided to press charges, it would be inappropriate to speculate on that at this time. Recommend you read my August 2010 post entitled "Understanding An LDS Bishop's 'Power Of Discernment'; Callings Not Always Extended Merely To Fill Positions" for more insight about the power of discernment.