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Utah County attorney says he’s been wrongly accused of cannibalism

Jun 1, 2022, 3:14 PM | Updated: 4:59 pm
Leavitt cannibalism criminal justice reform...
FILE -- Utah County Attorney David Leavitt speaks during a press conference at the Utah County Commission Chambers in Provo Wednesday January 23, 2019. Photo credit: Deseret News

PROVO, Utah — Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said Wednesday that he’s been wrongly accused of cannibalism, as well as the murder of small children.

The accusation, according to Leavitt, stems from an investigation by the Utah County Sheriff, Mike Smith. Further, Leavitt believes that the Utah County Sheriff is using his position for political gain, as both the Utah County Sheriff and the Utah County Attorney are up for reelection in 2022.

Leavitt has called for an independent investigation of a press release made public on Tuesday (cited below.) And he said he wants an investigation into Utah County Sheriff  Mike Smith as well as Smith’s office. 

Allegations arise from a previous case

On Wednesday, Leavitt said that he had been provided a copy of an alleged witness statement from a person he called a “tragically mentally ill woman.”

“And for the first time in the reportedly 15 or 20 years since the report was given, I learned that my wife and I were part of those allegations, alleging that we were guilty of cannibalizing young children,” Leavitt said.

Leavitt says the woman in question made sex abuse claims against 15 to 20 people before he was ever in office in Utah County. That case was dismissed, he said, because the allegations were deemed not credible by a then special victim’s unit.

Leavitt has called for the Utah County Sheriff as well as the Sheriff’s spokesman, Sgt. Spencer Cannon, to step down.

‘We are doing our job,’ said Sheriff Smith

On Tuesday, the Utah County Sheriff’s office asked for the public’s help in finding more victims of what the Sheriff’s office described as a ring of ritualistic child sex abusers. On Wednesday afternoon, Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith held the second press conference of the day.

It began with Sheriff Smith reading a press release, sent to media outlets on Tuesday:

“In April of 2021, an investigation began into ritualistic child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking that occurred in Utah County. The ensuing investigation discovered 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. Portions of these allegations were confirmed.

“These allegations are being investigated by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office in cooperation with other local and federal agencies. We are pleading with the public and encourage victims, or individuals with knowledge of these crimes, to contact the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Special Victim’s Unit, so that they can be offered all the assistance possible. We understand that there are individuals who have concerns for their safety and/or well-being, who have been silenced. We need your help.”

“Accusations that go beyond that statement,” Smith said, “are false.”


 

Smith also stressed that this “was not a politically motivated investigation,” and that a year ago his office was contacted by people reporting crimes that were similar in nature to those brought up by Utah County Attorney Leavitt.

“Leavitt,” said Sheriff Smith, “is using his authority and his pulpit to bully, distract, and mischaracterize the facts of an ongoing investigation.”

 “The main focus of this investigation is child sexual abuse,” Smith said, a reference to claims made by Utah County Attorney Leavitt of cannibalism and murder.

 

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Utah County attorney says he’s been wrongly accused of cannibalism