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Ex-bishop in Harrisville gets prison for sex abuse

Attorney Randall Skeen and Timothy O'Sean McCleave stand at the lecturn at McCleave's sentencing Wednesday in Ogden.
Attorney Randall Skeen and Timothy O'Sean McCleave stand at the lecturn at McCleave's sentencing Wednesday in Ogden.
Jennifer Pilgreen, KSL, POOL

OGDEN — His lips trembling and barely able to speak, Timothy O'Sean McCleve looked across the courtroom at the mother of his victims.

"From the deepest part of my heart I am truly sorry," he said.

McCleve was sentenced Wednesday to a pair of one-to-15 year prison terms after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a child, a second-degree felony. McCleve was the former bishop of the Harrisville LDS Church ward that the girls he sexually abused attended. Police said he would often stop by their home while their parents were away.

"He does admit the allegations. He pleaded guilty because he was guilty," McCleve's attorney, Randall Skeen, told the judge.

McCleve, 53, sought probation and said in court he had already been attending therapy sessions. That therapist reported he was treatable and didn't believe he was a predator, Skeen said.

"We're not dealing with a terrible, awful human being," he said Wednesday. "We're dealing with a human being that did some terrible, awful things."

Weber County prosecutors took exception, saying that others have come forward to say they were sexually abused by McCleve going back as far as 15 years ago.

"The position the defendant used to gain access is so absolutely deplorable," prosecutor Bill Daines said.

Speaking to the judge, McCleve sought to "put right what I have done wrong."

"I recognize and accept full responsibility of my actions. I am the owner of them and the man responsible for them," he said.

For their part, the family of the three girls victimized said they do not hate him — but asked for him to be put in prison.

"However, we do not want him to be able to hurt others with his sickness," the victims' mother said. "This has made our girls feel trapped and ashamed for the last 21 months, when it should be him having those feelings and not the victims."

She said that since McCleve has been free pending sentencing, her daughters have felt withdrawn, suicidal and full of anger. One still could not face him in court, she said.

Still, she said, they pray for McCleve, too.

"I still have no anger towards him," the girls' father said. "I love him still."

In sentencing McCleve, Judge Ernie Jones noted that the sex abuse happened repeatedly, with one girl being victimized a dozen times, another 14 times. Two others had come forward reporting abuse dating back to 1977.

"These kids are scarred for life," he told McCleve.

Addressing McCleve's one-time ecclesiastical status, he said: "They looked up to you."

As the sentencing wrapped up, a man interrupted court by applauding as handcuffs were slapped on McCleve. Outside court, the victims' family hugged each other.