Arrest made in Utah ritualistic sex abuse investigation

Posted at 3:40 PM, September 28, 2022 and last updated 2:10 AM, December 13, 2022

By Adam Herbets

UTAH COUNTY, Utah (KSTU) — The Utah County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a suspect in an ongoing ritualistic child sex abuse investigation.

Former therapist David Hamblin, 66, who was previously charged with 18 counts of sexual assault, was taken into custody Wednesday morning.

David Hamblin (Utah County Sheriff’s Office)

According to records obtained by FOX 13 News, Hamblin had previously confessed to sexually assaulting at least one of his female family members in an undercover phone recording. While the Utah County Attorney’s Office dropped all charges, Hamblin lost his license and was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In April, Brett Bluth, one of Hamblin’s alleged victims, described a long period of abuse and grooming by Hamblin as he tried to “heal” Bluth of his homosexuality.

Bluth expressed optimism that charges would be filed against Hamblin.

“I do think it will be different (this time),” Bluth said. “Hypnosis was a big part of (my treatment). [Hamblin] told me from the very beginning, that that was his main technique. Dr. Hamblin would say, ‘Do you want to be healed of your homosexuality, or not?’ and the answer was yes.”

The sheriff’s office announced an investigation into ritualistic sexual abuse on May 31, 2022. The investigation was opened the previous year after the department learned of multiple victims reporting similar incidents that took place in Utah County, Juab County, and Sanpete County between 1990-2010.

More than 130 potential victims came forward, with officials describing the majority of those tips as “credible.”

The following day, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt held a press conference, announcing himself as a subject of the investigation and describing his link to Hamblin.

“This therapist was my elder’s quorum president in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was my neighbor. I had a family connection. When his wife learned of whatever he was doing, she divorced him, and I testified at that divorce hearing. I’m well aware of who the therapist is, and I’m well aware of many of the players here,” Leavitt said. “I had a friendship with he and his wife to the extent that I went into court and testified on behalf of his wife to protect his children from him.”

Leavitt said he felt the investigation was “politically motivated.”

“There is no organized ring of abuse. It was debunked more than 10 years ago,” Leavitt said. “The allegations that are there are so outlandish and so crazy that – yeah, they’re just not true… That this all occurs less than one week before ballots drop in an election in which I am participating causes me tremendous concern.”

In August, a judge listened to testimony from Hamblin and his attorney, asking for his record to be expunged. The Utah County Attorney’s Office and Utah Attorney General’s Office opposed the expungement due to the active investigation.

At that hearing, another prosecutor with the Utah County Attorney’s Office contradicted Leavitt, arguing the case was not “politically motivated.”

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office is expected to hold a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Booking documents for Hamblin have not yet been released. This is a developing story.

This story was originally published Sept. 28, 2022 by KSTU in Salt Lake City, an E.W. Scripps Company.