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Great-grandfather charged in child sex-abuse case

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AMERICAN FORK — Walking with the help of his son-in-law and a cane and pushing an oxygen tank, an 82-year-old man stood before a judge to hear the sex charges read against him.

The man, whom the Deseret News is not naming because the victims were his great-grandchildren, was officially charged Friday morning in American Fork's 4th District Court with sodomy on a child and aggravated sex abuse of a child.

"I had to do some calling around, talking to people myself before (charging) something as hard as we did," said Deputy Utah County Attorney Doug Finch. "But after doing my own investigation and checking, it's the right thing to do."

The man was allegedly living with his daughter and son-in-law in Orem when his granddaughter came over to visit last December, bringing her two young girls with her, no older than 6 years old, Finch said.

Finch said the man helped one of the great-granddaughters go to the bathroom, where the alleged sodomy occurred, and then later touched one of the other girls inappropriately over her clothes in the kitchen.

The abuse was reported the same day and Orem police began investigating, Finch said. The children were then interviewed at the Children's Justice Center.

Finch said police ran into the same dilemma he faced. What do you do with an 82-year-old man with diabetes and on oxygen? The man was not arrested but was served a summons to appear in court.

"It's going to be an interesting (case), based upon screening," Finch said. "I think (charges are) fully warranted. The question is what the heck we're going to do with him after."

The man was appointed a public defender Friday, who will review the case and talk with Finch.

Those talks may be helpful in determining if a competency review should be done, said Finch, who said he wonders if the abuse stemmed from failing mental capacities.

"I know from dementia that people have a tendency to revert and to not control their emotions or desires quite as well," Finch said. "At this point we'll have to wait and see what (his) attorney has to say."

The white-haired man answered questions asked by the judge, including verifying his name, address and date of birth on the charging document.

E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com