The host of a religious public affairs program pleaded guilty Friday to a reduced charge of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl he befriended.
Lloyd Gerald Pond, 51, pleaded guilty to forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend that he receive probation and counseling.Third District Judge Robert K. Hilder reminded Pond that he was not obligated to follow any recommendation. Pond, who does not have a prior criminal record, could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
Pond was originally charged with two counts of forcible sodomy, a first-degree felony.
In a brief statement after the hearing, Pond apologized to the victim, the LDS Church and the community.
"I alone am responsible for this situation," Pond said.
He will be sentenced Feb. 3 at 2 p.m.
Pond resigned this week from his job with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was host and executive producer of "Times and Seasons," a public affairs program of the LDS Church that focuses on moral and social issues.
Church officials have sent letters to more than 600 radio stations that aired the series, informing station managers that "serious allegations" have been made against Pond.
The LDS Church recalled the radio programs and has asked station managers to discontinue using them. The programs have focused on such topics as child abuse, pornography, addiction, marriage, values, emotional abuse and more.
Bruce L. Olsen, managing director of public affairs for the LDS Church, issued this statement Friday:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' moral standards are beyond dispute. Our membership of nearly 10 million members reflects core values which have provided moral guidance for our members throughout the world.
"The Church is not a party to the case involving Lloyd Gerald Pond. We expect that the court decisions reached in this matterwill be consistent with the requirements of justice and due process. Mr. Pond has resigned as a church employee.
"Meanwhile, we are concerned and have compassion for the individuals and families involved."
Police say Pond made the girl perform sex acts against her will on Nov. 6 at KTBN, a West Valley radio station where Pond worked part time as a technician.
The girl told investigators that Pond, who lives in her LDS ward, had been helping her over the past few years break into the modeling and acting business.
Pond would frequently take the girl to the radio station and take photos of her. During the photo sessions, Pond photographed the girl wearing school clothes, swim-wear, lingerie and underwear, according to a 3rd District Court affidavit.
He also reportedly had the girl make several sexually explicit recordings beginning in February 1993. Pond told the girl he would be selling the recordings out of state or using them for a phone-sex line, the affidavit said.
The girl did so after signing a disclaimer prepared by Pond, according to the affidavit.
During the Nov. 6 photo session, Pond asked the teen to "try something different" involving fruit. He partially wrapped the girl's head in aluminum foil so her eyes were covered and then had her perform a sex act on two separate occasions, according to 3rd Circuit Court charges.
When originally questioned by police, Pond said he didn't do anything wrong and that he never touched the girl.