Utah

Safety concerns raised after judge’s controversial statement

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  • Jim Graham CA, 00
    April 22, 2017 3:30 p.m.

    What this judge did was outrageous. Extraordinarily good men do not get sentenced to 15 years in jail for object rape (look it up) etc., like Keith Vallejo did.

    The main problem with the judge's statement is that, like most people, we tend to label other people as "good" or "bad". No one is strictly good or bad. Even Jesus said, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God".

    Vallejo may have done extraordinarily good works in his life, but we're not judged exclusively by our good works, ignoring our wicked deeds. We're 'weighed in the balance' to see if qualify for the Lord's grace. Jesus explained, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not … done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity". The Lord will not say in sentencing, on judgement day, depart from me, even though you were an extraordinarily good man". The judge shouldn't have in this case either.

  • VESPA Salt Lake City, UT
    April 19, 2017 11:03 a.m.

    When I was in a stake leadership position we met with Bishops on a regular basis. This conviction has me a little confused.

    If they were meeting with him like they should, certainly the gift of discernment would have told them something was wrong?

  • ERB Eagle Mountain, UT
    April 19, 2017 12:34 a.m.

    The sentence seemed appropriate, but the judge worded it horribly. It made me think of the neighbor or mother that is always on the news saying , "He was such a good boy". I'm sure everything he did in his life wasn't horrible, but what he did cancels out most everything he did previously. And he deserves a long stay in prison.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    April 18, 2017 10:25 p.m.

    The claims that this case illustrates a problem with Utah or discourage victims are not wash.

    The accused was convicted and will serve many years in prison. True the prosecutors want longer sentences but that is the case on all sorts of cases.

    The judge phrased his words horribly, but that is not the point. The accused was brought to trial which takes too long on some cases.

    In my school district in Michigan we had a teacher who was allowed to retire to their classroom and then expunge their record after being aquitted making the next accused look like the first against a long career teacher.

    Zero tolerance and removal of credibly accused policies on some positions and professions that are not as hard to get as convictions are needed all over. Their existence and implementation is still a work in progress, but Utah is by no means the place in the US most in need of such.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    April 18, 2017 10:01 p.m.

    I thinkit is a signof hubris on the part of some to clain they know Vallejo is an inherently bad person.

    On the other hand sexual predators and those who sexually abuse people much younger than them tend to be very good at making people in general like them and getting to be popular. How much of this is deception and how much is trying to make up for their sins is hard to say.

    This is well known by people who have put even a little time into studying the issue. Which makes me wonder if Judge Low has ever read any literature on the practives of sexual abusers and if he has not makes me question if he is qualifyied to rule in this case.

    That said I think we need to avoid a false notion of how far we are from Sun even criminal sin. People do not generally reach criminal sexual conduct in a vacuum they get there through multiple unwise steps many being sinful but not yet criminal.

    I also have to say I think we need to emphasize 1st all points that Vallejo was criminally forcing sexual encounters on others. We need to avoid rhetoric that in any way makes this equivalent to those who seek sex outside their marriage but obtain it from willing givers.

  • 1Reader Sunnyvale, CA
    April 18, 2017 7:43 p.m.

    Oh, goodness: someone who committed a crime can't have done anything good, ever--and by all means, never mention it if they ever might have; otherwise, you're supporting the crime. That's the thinking here.

    By the way, judges are positioned and empowered to say what they want without worrying about being politically sensitive or the public's opinion. That's important for the justice process.

  • rdean92 Los Angeles, CA
    April 18, 2017 6:47 p.m.

    Sorry, but good people do not do these kinds of things. Especially a Bishop. Period.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 18, 2017 5:46 p.m.

    The defendant was/is not a good man who did bad things - he was/is a bad man who has occasionally done good things.

  • parryj Provo, UT
    April 18, 2017 5:29 p.m.

    Like JWB from Kaysville, I heard the judge kind of quoting the many people who advocated for the now-convicted perpetrator in his unfortunate statement. At the same time, I understand how a rape victim would--and perhaps needs to--think in simple terms about someone who raped her/him: someone who rapes is a rapist, a rapist is evil, etc. Someone who is raped is raped over and over again in their minds and memories; rape is a horrid, pernicious gift that keeps on giving.

    But for very good reasons we don't let judges render absolute moral judgments about the relationship between a person's actions and character, doing and being. I don't imagine that any of us, having stolen something or told a lie, is eager spend the rest of life with the title "thief" or "liar" next to her/his name as assigned by a judge. And we shouldn't expect our jurist neighbors, who spend their day every day encountering and engaging the inherent moral complexity of being human, to be able to avoid the pits that we dig for them when we listen for moral simplicity in statements that concern, again, inherently complex moral matters and people.

  • glacierlake3 Provo, UT
    April 18, 2017 2:47 p.m.

    Imperfect I am, even below the dust of the earth.
    3rd Nephi 11:30
    Behold this is not my doctrine to stir up the hearts of men with anger one against another, but this is my doctrine that such things should be done away.

    first let me testify that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God and my Savior and redeemer and the savior and redeemer of mankind and rules in all perfect just righteous judgment in mercy, justice, and vengeance and in all things forever and ever. I have two children that were sexually molested in elementary school in Washington Michigan. And exactly what the terribly tragic details are like for both sides of the problem is something that most do not come close to understanding. on 911 terribly tragic condition occurred in the United States of america and blood all over the ground. though president Hinckley stated in liked the Captain Moroni freedom fighter still he Came back and said God said prey for peace.
    there are no bloody bodies all over the ground there is no burning buildings. A great and terrible tragedy as occurred it is time to get it out of the political arena that the reproach and healing that is necessary can occur.

  • LivinLarge Bountiful, UT
    April 18, 2017 1:36 p.m.

    The judge owes the victims an "extraordinarily good" apology...

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    April 18, 2017 12:41 p.m.

    I wrote a letter which garnered 10 Likes--and then was denied because I "speculated".

    The only speculation in my letter was "Perhaps these victims would withdraw any possibility for this criminal to be rehabilitated or forgiven in the future? " But those weren't my words. I was quoting (and, following his quote, replying to) Jacobiuntherus!

  • katbat Woods Cross, UT
    April 18, 2017 12:21 p.m.

    There is good and evil in all of us. Even Nazi's would do horrendous things during the day and then go home to wife and kids, pet the dog...have a normal good life. Really we should be asking ourselves...what do I need to change within myself?

    Having said that, I agree that the Judges' statement is a reflection of a cultural problem in Utah.

  • GZE SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 18, 2017 11:50 a.m.

    I'm sure we could find people to tell us that Brian David Mitchell, Mark Hoffman, and even Ted Bundy were good people. Would you all be as understanding if their judges had pointed this out?

  • Trudere Provo, UT
    April 18, 2017 11:34 a.m.

    ...Brass said. "A message is sent when you send someone to prison, you don't have to spit on them on their way out the door."

    That didn't happen. What the judge said spit on the victims.

  • utahcoyote Saint George, UT
    April 18, 2017 11:25 a.m.

    what the judge said is much less troublesome to me than the fact that the guilty party was released after the guilty verdict. that is highly unusual in this type to case and almost never occurs. thought that was highly irresponsible on the judge's part.

    someone commented on the concept that good men fall into sexual traps like pornography. isn't that rationalization of the worst kind, as one seeks out pornography with conscious decision making? it doesn't not suddenly appear on your computer, your television or smart phone, and porno magazines don't majestically make their way into one's possession.

    a judge looks at mitigating and aggravating circumstances surrounding the guilty person. that is part of his job in sentencing. commenting on those circumstance in a very public manner really isn't part of the job or necessary. ultimately the sentence was appropriate.

    what would have happened if this had turned into a honor code investigation because the one girl was enrolled at byu? he said-she said but he was bishop. curious how that would have played out.

  • GoRed WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 18, 2017 11:17 a.m.

    There are many good posts here. There are those who feel that the judge overstepped his bounds in pronouncing this man an "extraordinarily good man," and those who feel that we should all forgive and should not post anything that might imply that we are judging.

    What this man "allegedly" did was heinous. His continual crimes against his victims was, and is, reprehensible. This case came down to the brave victims coming forth to testify against a man who, in a position of trust, took advantage of them. If these allegations are true (and the court found in favor of the victims), then he is guilty of one of the most serious crimes we have in our society. The judge committed a major error in judgement by calling this man an "extraordinarily good man" who did something bad.

    No, he is not an extraordinarily good man. Extraordinarily good men do not do the things that he was convicted of. Neither is he a "great man...who did bad things." Judge Low showed extreme naivety in making these pronouncements.

    Finally, I see no remorse on the part of the accused man. If he were an extraordinarily good man, he would begin the repentance process by apologizing and paying his debt.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    April 18, 2017 11:10 a.m.

    This judge is not perfect. Christ is the one that was able to say that the person without sin should cast the first stone. As such, Christ chose not to cast the first stone as he was and is the perfect judge for us.

    If this judge was paraphrasing what people said, it should have been put in a different context. If so, the judge was speaking for the 50 people that said the convicted was a good man. In this court case, the offenses were not of a good man. When he chose to commit those crimes he was not good. If this was not a very public trial in the newspapers, that means the Provo and Salt Lake papers didn't do a good job of letting others know of the potential problem with what happened with vulnerable people who trusted this man.

    Men and women should know about these types of cases to help them be more conscious of what may happen to their family members.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    April 18, 2017 10:37 a.m.

    When a man of trust commits those types of crimes as validated by the jury and judge. The vulnerability of the abused with a man they should have comfort and not be susceptible to his position.

    Having had two sisters and a son abused by physicians and a teacher with positions of trust, the use their ability to manipulate and threaten those that are vulnerable.

    Good people avoid those situations with those that put trust in their position. Men and women with positions of trust can be designing their actions. They usually strike more than once.

    When the abused eventually bring their abuse to authorities they face years of reliving their abuse. Those that abuse with power and authority deny and push guilt on their victims.

    The judge should have structured his words with better phrasing and not say he was a good man. He has to pay for his actions. You just don't fall into that with one action or thought, especially with two victims.

  • TheJester American Fork, UT
    April 18, 2017 10:31 a.m.

    @Uteofferouus

    A little grammar lesson:

    Extraordinary - exceptional in character, amount, extent, degree, etc.; noteworthy; remarkable

    The judge did err in calling the defendant an "extraordinarily good man". A more apt (and accurate) description would have been "you appeared to be a good man, but obviously you were not. You deceived many, including those who wrote letters on your behalf. Your cleverness, however, does not mitigate the evil you committed."

    By heaping even a little praise on the defendant, the judge attempted to minimize the crime committed.

  • bikeboy Boise, ID
    April 18, 2017 10:30 a.m.

    The story mentions that he was released as a bishop. I assume that following his conviction, he has also forefeited his membership in the Church. (I believe that's standard procedure, for people convicted of a felony in the courts.) In addition, he has probably seriously compromised his relationships with his family.

    As soon as I saw the judge's statement (out of context), I was confident it would result in a firestorm, and rightly so.

    Time will tell, whether Mr. Vallejo is "an extraordinarily good man." 15 years in prison is an appropriate sentence... if he completes it, and goes on to live a good life, perhaps he can still be deemed an extraordinarily good man.

    My 2 cents.

  • james d. morrison Sandy, UT
    April 18, 2017 10:05 a.m.

    Taken in the full context of what he said, I don't see what the controversy is. He didn't give the guy a lesser sentence. I guess he could have worded it a little differently to something like, "seemingly in all other aspects of life, he is a great man, but sometimes these great men still do horrible things...."

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    April 18, 2017 9:57 a.m.

    "Extraordinarily good men" don't sexually assault women.

    Sorry. Use another term than "extraordinarily".

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    April 18, 2017 9:53 a.m.

    It is rare to find a person who is pure evil. I suppose drug dealers can be generous and kind to their friends. Some criminals might express great compassion to the homeless, for example. (Heaven knows, we've made very judgmental comments to one another on these boards.)

    I suppose you may witness all sorts of "goodness" gone bad in crimes of passion.

    But the role of a judge is never to console a defendant or convey even a inkling sympathy. Such character-bolstering is the purview of the defense attorney and his witness list...or perhaps a therapist.

    His comments were way out-of-line from the bench.

    Perhaps he needs a new career. Maybe he could go to work for the Innocence Project...or the ACLU.

  • Mayfair City, Ut
    April 18, 2017 9:29 a.m.

    chickenlittle- the pain also cut very deep for his wife, children and family.

    Yes, the judge was trying to honor and acknowledge their deep pain before pronouncing the sentence.

  • taatmk West Jordan, UT
    April 18, 2017 9:12 a.m.

    Yes, the judges words were taken out of context. But yes, he could have said it differently.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    April 18, 2017 9:13 a.m.

    He was in a position of trust for his congregation. As he is a father he was in a high position of trust for his family.

    He violated that trust on quite a few occasions as he interviewed others while acting officially for his church and congregation. I would even think he was even interviewed by his leaders during that time. Truth is truth but only the facts change.

  • jawico Cedar City, UT
    April 18, 2017 9:07 a.m.

    As long as we are talking scripture, was King David an extraordinarily good man who did some really bad things or was he a really bad man who did some good things early in life?

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    April 18, 2017 8:45 a.m.

    Someone who did what he has been convicted of has forfeit the right to be called an extraordinarily good man, no matter what else he's done with his life.
    The actions speak for themselves, and the consequences include more than a loss of freedom.

  • Lolly Lehi, UT
    April 18, 2017 8:37 a.m.

    I perhaps don't read correctly but wasn't it the defendant's supporters the judge was quoting. Talk about twisting the Judge's words. Saying that he is a nice guy and then sending him to prison for 15 years seems contradictory.

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    April 18, 2017 8:37 a.m.

    Call me crazy, but an "extraordinarily good man" doesn't normally assault women. Sorry gang, you can't have it both ways.

  • chickenlittle Salem, UT
    April 18, 2017 8:35 a.m.

    Why say " Extraordinary good people do bad things" ? Did he really need to soften the blow to facing years in prison? What the victims face for his selfish horrific crimes will be most likely long years of therapy to trust ever again. The pain cuts deep.

  • stanfunky Salt Lake City, UT
    April 18, 2017 8:31 a.m.

    Misty Mountain - Kent, WA
    April 18, 2017 3:26 a.m.
    @Jacobiuntherus wrote,

    ...As far as rehabilitation, the statistics for adult sex offenders are dismal.

    Of those who complete treatment successfully, 90% never reoffend, according to the Justice Department of the US.

  • windsor City, Ut
    April 18, 2017 8:27 a.m.

    From personal experience, I have known some extraordinarily good LDS men who have been caught up in porn which has made them 'not themselves'.

    Not to the degree of this Bishop. But certainly acting as though someone besides themselves were in charge of their thoughts and actions.

    While others may not get or understand this, I do.

    LDS Ezra Taft Benson once said "The plaguing sin of this generation is sexual immorality. This, the Prophet Joseph said, would be the source of more temptations, more buffetings, and more difficulties for the elders of Israel than any other."

    While this does not excuse, it verifies that extraordinarily good men can get caught up in sexual traps.

  • neece Logan, UT
    April 18, 2017 8:28 a.m.

    Talk about a case of twisting and Misconstruing what the judge said!

  • Uteofferouus Salt Lake City, UT
    April 18, 2017 8:21 a.m.

    @Utah Girl Chronicles:

    Wow - what a misplaced characterization of the what the Judge said.

    You assert: "Men who assault women should not have their sentencing judge compliment the fabulousness of their character".

    The judge did not in any stretch of the imagination "compliment the fabulousness of their character". For you or anyone else to take such liberties with what actually was said calls into question the objectivity and integrity of your comment.

  • Justiciaparatodos Salt Lake City, UT
    April 18, 2017 8:13 a.m.

    The judge should NOT resign.

    He meted out justice to the victims to the extent of the law. The fact that he identified that even good people can do bad things does not diminish the performance of the judge.

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    April 18, 2017 8:10 a.m.

    Yes, good people sometimes do bad things. Likewise, bad people sometimes do good things. Whether somebody like Mr. Vallejo is one or the other is a gray, subjective judgment.

    I can understand why a judge trying to exercise the wisdom of Solomon might want to comment about such things as he is sentencing somebody to prison. But a judge calling a convicted felon sex-offender an "extraordinarily good man" is an extraordinarily inappropriate hyperbole and an extraordinarily offensive slap in the face not only to Mr. Vallejo's victims, but also to all basically good men who go about their lives without ever being guilty of anything like what Mr. Vallejo did.

  • Utah Girl Chronicles Eagle Mountain, UT
    April 18, 2017 8:04 a.m.

    No one seems capable of realizing that when a judge heaps profuse praise upon a convicted sexual assault offender, it makes other sexual assault victims even more reluctant to step forward. Women who have been assaulted shouldn't have to hide in the darkest corners of society. Men who assault women should not have their sentencing judge compliment the fabulousness of their character.

    Utah County is really messed up sometimes.

  • AlanSutton Salt Lake City, UT
    April 18, 2017 7:48 a.m.

    It's easy to criticize a judge, especially when all you know about the case is what you read in the newspapers. Judges make tough decisions every day. Let them do their job.

  • Unclefred Ticonderoga, NY
    April 18, 2017 7:45 a.m.

    There are thousands of really callous and hurtful things done and said just about every day in this world. This judges statements do not fall in that category. It was a humane and concerned jurist sending someone to prison for at least 15 years, before a courtroom filled in part with his family and friends. I think the judge got it exactly right. Good people do sometimes do terrible things, this person, and the many others involved, will pay for those actions for the rest of their lives, isn't that enough?

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    April 18, 2017 7:36 a.m.

    The rest of the country is seeing what we see on a regular basis. Influential people of the dominant faith covering for their fellow member. It's not good, it's not Christlike and it's disgusting to decent people.

  • goodnight-goodluck S.L.C., UT
    April 18, 2017 7:23 a.m.

    The Judge should resign, if he chooses not to resign the people should remove him the next time he stands for retention on the ballot.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    April 18, 2017 7:13 a.m.

    The judge said something nice about the defendant and then sentenced him to 15 years to life. Sounds like he did a really bad thing doesn't it? The sentence speaks volumes. I don't think any one is diminished by what he said, however ill considered. The dude to the maximum sentence under the law. Everyone needs to grow up.

  • at long last. . . Kirksville , MO
    April 18, 2017 6:58 a.m.

    Praising a convicted sex criminal is not is any way acceptable from the bench, prior to incarceration. This "so-called judge" should be removed. If your daughter was one of the victims, I doubt you would make comments like the earlier two.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    April 18, 2017 5:49 a.m.

    To victims still struggling to recover:

    I speak from experience. Yes, you are hypersensitive right now. Just as the skin of burn victims is hypersensitive to the elements in the early stages of recovery, so is your emotional and psychological self. Everything hurts, including other people's failure to understand.

    So when others' ignorance brushes up against you and they criticize you for being too sensitive, don't let them make you doubt the validity of your pain. It is exactly as you're experiencing it and it's like that because of what has happened to you. Human beings respond to such things just as you are responding. It's normal, expected. And it's a process.

    So be patient with yourself. Protect yourself as best you can from painful ignorance and surround yourself with kindness - from yourself and others. It does get better.

    To those who have the strength to fight back even as you're in pain: You're the ones who deserve to be called "extraordinary." You rock!!

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2017 11:34 p.m.

    @cjb "To the mob .. Why don't we just crucify the convicted, and be done with it."

    This is an extraordinarily inappropriate statement. The victims and their advocates are not a mob. And they are in no way to be compared to the Pharisees and Romans who crucified Christ.

    Many sexual assault victims do not make charges against perpetrators because they, the victims, go on trial also, and in fact are tried first.

    We don't take sexual assault seriously. Most rape kits are never processed. We just don't care.

  • Jbejarano Eagle Mountain, UT
    April 17, 2017 11:11 p.m.

    Yes sexual abuse happens here in Utah. I agree that the man was called good by 50 people; however this story only confirms our
    comments by our attorney general Sean Reyes. Keith Vallejo was never brought up by this paper until this incident was written up in the AP 3 days ago. Now it defends the judge who sentenced them.

  • Jacobiuntherus Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2017 10:56 p.m.

    The judge said it just right: "sometimes extraordinarily good men do bad things". In many ways the defendant was a good man - but he apparently did some horrendous things that caused harm to others. Does that mean all the good deeds he did before he went over the deep end mean nothing? All the people whose lives he affected for good are part of who he is too. It is sad when good people do seriously bad things - but the judge merely identified that there is also some good down deep inside this man - and all men and women who have made bad mistakes. Hopefully he can pay his price to society, repent, and become rehabilitated somehow.

    So lets get off the hypersensitive PC rhetoric and move on. For heaven sakes, the criminal is going to prison for a long time - so the judge did absolutely nothing wrong.

    Perhaps these victims would withdraw any possibility for this criminal to be rehabilitated or forgiven in the future? The guy did horrible things - but those are not the only things that define him - or would those of us who have "never sinned" cast the first stone?

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    April 17, 2017 9:53 p.m.

    To the mob .. Why don't we just crucify the convicted, and be done with it.