Mormon magazine regrets publishing molester's article
By Jason Bergreen
The Salt Lake Tribune
An article published in the October edition of the LDS Church-owned
Ensign magazine was penned by a former BYU student and church member
who was recently jailed after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges
of lewdness involving a child.
The testimonial-style article titled "I Will Never Go to Church
Again" was written by 27-year-old Oleg Barabash. It documents his
personal struggle with alcohol, cigarettes and vulgar language and
ends with his return to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints after missionaries intervened to help bring him back into the
Unknown to the church, Barabash was sentenced on Aug. 22 to 240
days in the Utah County jail after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor
charges of lewdness involving a 12-year-old boy.
"The Ensign has a long-standing practice of conducting background
checks on people whose articles and stories are published in the
magazine," church spokesman Dale Bills stated in a news release.
"Editorial deadlines run at least six months in advance of
publication, and background checks precede these deadlines. The
background check on the author in question was conducted prior to his
arrest. Ensign editors regret that this story was published after the
status of the author had changed."
According to court documents, Barabash was originally charged with
four second-degree felony counts of sexual abuse of a child and two
class A misdemeanor counts of lewdness involving a child. The alleged
molestation of the boy occurred in September 2005.
Before sentencing, friends and family members of the Ukrainian man
sent letters to Judge Steven Hansen stating Barabash was innocent of
the sexual charges and only guilty of cultural misunderstanding,
indiscretion and playfulness. They claimed he was affectionate and
didn't know what he was doing was inappropriate.
Barabash had been accused of touching the boy's penis, kissing him
on the mouth, and exposing his penis to the boy.
Hansen did not buy the cultural justification argument. In
addition to the jail sentence, he fined Barabash $5,000 and put him on
24 months probation.