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SEX OFFENDER GETS 2ND CHANCE TO FINISH PROGRAM

George P. Lee will get a second chance to finish a sex-offender treatment program.

Probation officials on Monday suggested Lee go to jail for 15 days for failing to complete court-ordered counseling after his 1994 sex abuse conviction.But 3rd District Judge Kenneth Rigtrup instead reinstated Lee's probation and ordered him to report to a treatment center in St. George.

Lee, a former LDS Church general authority, appeared in court Monday wearing dark glasses and collar-length hair. He explained he was only trying to follow the court's original order when he stopped attending counseling sessions last November.

"I was told to make sure I get counseling through a member of ISAC (Intermountain Sexual Abuse Center) in St. George. I assumed the counselor I was meeting with was a member, but then I found out he wasn't," Lee said.

He said he told probation officials in St. George, but "they did nothing about it."

Probation officer Kathy Stratton responded that Lee simply couldn't drop the program without permission from officials. "Maybe the ball was dropped at some point. However, it was Mr. Lee's job to see that he completed the ordered therapy," she said.

Probation officials in St. George recommended the judge re-instate Lee's probation and extend it to 36 months instead of the originally ordered 18 months. They also asked that Lee serve 15 days in the Washington County Jail.

The judge agreed with the first request but denied the jail time without comment. He did wonder aloud why probation officials in Salt Lake City didn't refer Lee directly to ISAC workers in St. George - something he did Monday from the bench.

Lee was originally charged with aggravated sex abuse of a child, a first-degree felony, but pleaded guilty to the reduced charge in October 1994.

His victim, who is now about 20 years old, testified in court hearings then that Lee had sexually abused her while he was a member of the church's First Quorum of the Seventy.

She was 12 years old at the time and said Lee had abused her since she was 9. He once told her that she "shouldn't tell anyone because the Lord had told him to do it and it should just remain between the Lord and him and me," she testified.

After the hearing, Lee ignored questions from reporters while a young man who accompanied him to court put his hand in front of camera lenses and said, "No pictures, please."