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Jill Atwood reportingThere have been dozens of news reports about the man accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart. Even allegations he molested young women, in the past.
Eyewitness News has discovered one case of molestation was actually brought to police for a formal investigation 18-years ago. The victim says it's a pity, nothing came of it.
We know Mitchell fathered at least four children, and lived off and on with several stepchildren.
And long before Elizabeth Smart was abducted, some of those kids knew exactly what he is capable of.
Brian Mitchell, a man of God as he claims, or a pedophile in disguise as a religious zealot?
Sex crime experts say its not likely Mitchell all of a sudden became attracted to children.
Sgt.Frank Ziebert/Salt Lake County Sex Crimes Unit "BY THE TIME SOMEBODY OFFENDS AGAINST A CHILD AND WE ARREST THEM WE FIND THAT THERE IS USUALLY A PREVIOUS HISTORY THERE."
Eyewitness News uncovered evidence that indeed, Mitchell has a serious, previous history: A police report dated June 7th, 1985. Long forgotten in the files of the public safety building. We acquired it through the Government Records Act.
Debra Mitchell,his wife at the time, suspected Mitchell was molesting her two youngest. Brian's biological children.
In the report Debra Mitchell complains.."her estranged husband is teaching her children things to bring about their sexual awareness.."
After an examination at Primary Children's Hospital turned up no physical evidence, and comments made by the kids were deemed less than credible, the case was closed.
The report states: "There may have been something that did occur, but that we were unable to substantiate or have any evidence to prosectute."
Rebecca Woodridge: "THEY ARE TOO YOUNG TO REMEMBER EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED...THIS IS GOING TO BE A HASSLE TO PRESS CHARGES AND GO THROUGH WITH ALL THIS...IT'S EASIER TO FORGET ABOUT IT."
Rebecca Woodridge was living with Brian Mitchell as his step daughter during that same time frame. She claims he sexually molested her and her two sisters repeatedly at their Salt Lake City home, for as much as five years.
Rebecca says they didn't tell their mother until after she had filed for divorce, and Brian was out of the house.
Rebecca Woodridge: "HE WOULD WHISPER IN MY EAR...NOT TO TELL ANYBODY AND IF I DID NOBODY WOULD BELIEVE ME..YOUR MOTHER WOULD NEVER BELIEVE YOU..NOBODY'S GOING TO BELIEVE YOU"
She says she also told counselors who she believes told police, but no investigation was ordered.
The family's secret was also shared, she says, with their religious leader, a Bishop in the LDS Church. At the time, Mitchell was also active in the Church. Rebecca remembers the night the Bishop came to visit.
Rebecca: "HE HAD FOUND OUT AND CAME OVER TO THE HOUSE..HE SAID HE DIDN'T BELIEVE US..WHY..THEY THOUGHT WE WERE JEALOUS OF BRIAN FOR BEING WITH OUR MOM AND THAT WE WERE MAKING THINGS UP. "
Craig Barlow with the Attorney General's office says that doesn't surprise him. He says back then, police and social workers were not as skilled in investigating such abuse cases.
And it was common at the time for families to turn to friends, church leaders, counselors and others to make the problem go away.
Craig Barlow/Attorney General's Children's Justice Division: "WE HAVE REPEATEDLY IN CASES WHERE ABUSE HAS EVEN BEEN PROVEN..WHERE SOME KIND OF A LEADER ANNOUNCES..OH I KNOW HE WOULDN'T DO THAT.
Consequently, the abuser goes undetected, and unpunished, soon to prey on his next victim.
Rebecca: "IF PEOPLE WOULD HAVE LISTENED TO WHAT HAPPENED TO US AND NOT PUSHED IT ASIDE AND NOT TRIED TO HIDE IT OR FORGET ABOUT THAN THIS MIGHT NOT HAVE HAPPENED TO ELIZABETH."
Experts in sex crimes say there is now much different attitude about these cases than there was just twenty years ago.
Now, police departments, Church organizations and social workers have systems in place to make sure that every allegation of child sex abuse is immediately, and thoroughly investigated. Detectives techniques for questioning kids has also vastly improved.