Facebook Twitter

Former youth leader charged with sexually abusing boy more than 20 years ago

SHARE Former youth leader charged with sexually abusing boy more than 20 years ago
A judge’s gavel sits on a judge’s desk.

Adobe Stock

OREM — A Georgia man is being accused of sexually abusing a boy while he was a youth leader in Utah nearly 25 years ago.

Matthew A. Gellis, 44, of Canton, Georgia, was charged Tuesday in 4th District Court with five counts of sodomy on a child, a first-degree felony.

Charging documents say the crimes occurred in Orem between 1996 and 1998 when the victim was between 12 and 13 years old and Gellis was in his early 20s.

“(Gellis) was a religious, youth and Scouting leader for the reporting victim. (He) ingratiated and groomed himself into the victim’s life by spending significant personal time with victim, spending money taking victim to fast-food restaurants, and providing snacks and candy that victim’s family could not afford to provide victim,” the charges state.

The boy would also spend “significant time” in Gellis’ apartment playing video games and sleeping over, according to the charges. Gellis became a “close friend” of the boy and his family “due to his religious and personal relationship” with the family.

Gellis would perform sex acts on the boy and then encourage him not to tell his parents or religious leaders, the charges state.

“Victim reports these sex acts happened a couple times each week for about six years,” and happened “many more” times than the five counts that are charged, court records state.

Prosecutors note in the charges that the victim “has now reached a sufficient age and period of stability to feel safe and strong enough to disclose the sexual abuse performed by (Gellis).”

Orem police also say that a child in Georgia has made allegations against Gellis “that are very similar to the allegations of the victim in this matter,” and are currently being investigated there, the charges state.