Utah Investigators Arrest First Suspect in Ritualistic Child Sex Abuse and Trafficking Case
Special investigators with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office in Utah arrested a Provo man on charges of alleged ritualistic child sex abuse stemming from a year-long investigation that is likely to produce more suspects and arrests.
David Lee Hamblin, 68, was arrested in Provo on Sept. 28 by members of the sheriff’s special victims unit and charged with first-degree felony rape of a child, sodomy of a child, aggravated abuse of a child, and lewdness involving a child, a misdemeanor.
A Utah County judge ordered Hamblin held without bail at the county jail pending his arraignment. Juab County Attorney Ryan Peters will serve as special prosecutor in the case in that jurisdiction.
“We feel like we have [made] progress and anticipate there will be more arrests in the future,” Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon told The Epoch Times.
Hamblin’s arrest marks the first break in the investigation that began in early 2021, producing more than 130 witnesses and alleged victims.
One victim, a woman in her forties, told investigators she was 6 or 7 when Hamblin allegedly began sexually molesting her in the mid-1980s
“The victim’s family resided in the same neighborhood as David,” according to Hamblin’s booking statement. “The victim stated she would regularly play with David’s children and had been babysat on a number of occasions by David.”
The document describes in lurid detail how Hamblin allegedly continued sexually assaulting the child, at one point forcing multiple children to take turns performing a sex act on him.
“The female victim recounted several other assaults inflicted upon her by David Hamblin,” the statement added. “This occurred at the Hamblin home in Spring City, Utah” before the victim’s 13th birthday.
The alleged incidents occurred at residences in Provo and Spring City over many years until around 1990.
Suspect Was Licensed Therapist
According to investigators, Hamblin worked as a licensed therapist in Provo, where he faced charges that he sexually abused a male patient in 2012.
While the Utah County Attorney’s Office eventually dropped those charges, Hamblin had his therapy license revoked in Utah.
“Through this investigation, it has been reported that David continues to perform ‘therapy’ under the guise of ‘healing circles’ and upon information and belief, the abuse may be ongoing,” according to a probable cause statement.
“David Hamblin is a threat to the children and citizens of Utah County.”
On May 31, Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith announced an investigation had been underway since April 2021 that involved “ritualistic child sex abuse and child sex trafficking” in Utah County and Juab and Sanpete counties.
A day after authorities announced the case, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt identified himself and his wife, an attorney, as potential suspects while vigorously refuting the claims at a press conference. Leavitt based his remarks on what he said was a leaked 151-page official document obtained online.
“Until we get to a point where we can make an arrest or until we need help from the public in identifying or locating a certain suspect, we don’t discuss names of suspects or witnesses in these cases,” Cannon said.
Cannon dispelled earlier reports that the case was about “Satanic ritual abuse.” However, there appear to be elements of “ritualistic sexual abuse,” he said.
Obey, Or Else
Cannon said ritual child sexual abuse could include authority figures who repeatedly use their influence to get victims to obey, or there will be consequences.
Some victims in the case reported sexual abuse but felt other law enforcement didn’t take them seriously.
“Some never reported it because they feared retaliation by the suspect or people connected to the suspect. /A couple of people I spoke to were scared. They wouldn’t tell me their name. We just had an address and a phone number,” Cannon said.
Investigators said the case is challenging given the time passed and some victims’ potential failure of memory.
“These kinds of things can be very challenging because they become so complex,” Cannon said. “We have to try to get corroborating evidence to support whatever given victim can tell, and we have been able to do that in this case.”
He said many victims reported feeling a “great sense of relief” now that law enforcement is taking them seriously.
“We want them to understand we will take them seriously,” Cannon said, adding that most reports he’s received from victims sounded highly credible.
Cannon said there is no statute of limitations for sexual abuse in Utah.