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Provo man arrested in 'Ritualistic Child Sex Abuse' investigation

Ritualistic Child Sex Abuse investigation
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

PROVO — A Provo man who faced multiple charges of child sex abuse a decade ago that were later dismissed was arrested again Wednesday "in relation to an investigation involving ritualistic child sexual abuse."

That's according to the Utah County Sheriff's Office, which booked David Lee Hamblin, 68, into the Utah County Jail for investigation of three counts of sodomy on a child, rape of a child, two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, and lewdness involving a child.

A victim came forward in April and told investigators that Hamblin started sexually assaulting her in the mid-1980s when she was 6 or 7 and her family lived in the same Provo neighborhood as Hamblin. She said she would go to his house where she and other children were babysat by him, according to a police booking affidavit.

The woman told police that Hamblin made her and two other children perform sex acts and then he would critique them.

"The victim described the shame that she felt and her confusion at the time of the sexual assault. The two other child victims who were present when the assault occurred have both been interviewed and have corroborated what this victim has disclosed," according to the affidavit.

The woman told detectives about two other specific incidents of sexual assault over the next six or seven years, including being forced headfirst into a sleeping bag while Hamblin sexually assaulted her, the affidavit alleges.

The sheriff's office was scheduled to hold a press conference Wednesday but later postponed that event. Instead, it released a statement that, in part, says, "This investigation is ongoing and additional information will be forthcoming. This case is being prosecuted by Juab County Attorney Ryan Peters, who has been deputized as a special prosecutor by the Utah Attorney General's Office for this case. This case is still being actively investigated. We will not discuss ongoing details of this case. We also will not discuss the names of victims, suspects, or witnesses who may be involved in this case."

The sheriff's office has requested that Hamblin be held without bail in the Utah County Jail pending the filing of formal charges, noting in their affidavit that "there are ongoing investigations regarding other victims with David as a perpetrator."

"David Hamblin was a licensed therapist whose license was revoked by the state of Utah due to allegations that he was sexually abusing his client(s). Through this investigation, it has been reported that David continues to perform 'therapy' under the guise of 'healing circles' and upon information and belief, the abuse may be ongoing. David Hamblin is a threat to the children and citizens of Utah County," the arrest report states.

In 2012, Hamblin was charged in 4th District Court with 18 first-degree felonies, including sodomy on a child, multiple counts of rape of a child, and aggravated sexual abuse of a child. The case was dismissed without prejudice in 2014. Dismissing a case "without prejudice" means a prosecutor has the option of refiling charges if new evidence arises.

In May, the sheriff's office issued a statement asking for victims of ritualistic child sexual abuse to contact them. The sheriff's office declined at the time to say who was being investigated or what kind of ritualistic abuse was occurring.

However, based on its investigation, deputies learned that "other victims had previously reported similar forms of ritualistic sexual abuse and trafficking that occurred in Utah County, Juab County and Sanpete County during the time between 1990 and 2010," according to the sheriff's office.

Prior to that, in April, Hamblin filed a petition with the court requesting that the court records from his previous charges be expunged.

"It has been 10 years since the case was dismissed and there is no new evidence claimed by the state which would be required in order to proceed with the case. The case was dismissed by the state without holding a preliminary hearing. This indicates the state did not have probable cause sufficient for the case to move forward and survive a preliminary hearing," Hamblin's attorneys argued in court documents.

They further argued that "much of the evidence gathered in the original case is inadmissible and highly suspect because the alleged victim was subject to hypnotherapy prior to reporting the alleged abuse. The charges were dismissed in 2013 for lack of evidence, and a good faith intention to refile charges would now require prosecutors to have new evidence," the petition states.

But prosecutors countered that the prior case should not be expunged due to a current, ongoing investigation.

"While the charges were previously dismissed without prejudice, the state has received information that (Hamblin) is the subject of a current criminal investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies into the same conduct related to the 1999 arrest on this case. Expunging the records in question would hamper the current investigation and not serve the interests of justice," the court filing states.

On Aug. 16, a judge denied Hamblin's petition for expungement.

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

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