Ex-Utah County youth symphony leader accused of molesting teens pleads guilty just before trial

Brent E. Taylor, former director of the Utah Valley Youth Symphony, listens during a hearing in 2019. Taylor pleaded guilty on Tuesday to attempted forcible sodomy of a teenager about 20 years ago, but charges are still pending in Salt Lake County.

Brent E. Taylor, former director of the Utah Valley Youth Symphony, listens during a hearing in 2019. Taylor pleaded guilty on Tuesday to attempted forcible sodomy of a teenager about 20 years ago, but charges are still pending in Salt Lake County. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)


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AMERICAN FORK — Former youth symphony leader Brent E. Taylor pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempted forcible sodomy, a first-degree felony, admitting he engaged in sexual acts with a teenage boy about 20 years ago.

The plea comes shortly after he was arrested at what was scheduled to be the start of his own jury trial — which the court was planning to hold with or without him.

It is now almost six years after the initial charges were filed against him, and after months of delays — many of which were due to his health and his failure to appear at court when ordered.

Charges in two separate criminal cases were filed against Taylor following a Deseret News investigation reporting that three former employees of the Utah Valley Youth Symphony accused Taylor of either sexually abusing them or inappropriately touching them when they were teenagers. Taylor was the executive director of the symphony who retired in 2017 after 44 years with the group.

He is accused of engaging in sexual behavior with a teenage musician between 2002 and 2006 in Utah County, the one associated with this plea, and abuse of a former employee and another boy in Sandy in the mid-1980s, beginning when the boys were 12 and 13 years old. Three others made abuse and lewdness allegations against him.

Taylor's criminal charges in Salt Lake County — two counts of sodomy on a child, a first-degree felony; and two counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child, a second-degree felony — are still pending.

Taylor, 76, pleaded guilty Tuesday under a plea deal that modified his charge from forcible sodomy to attempted forcible sodomy. He admitted to attempting to engage in sexual acts with someone over 14 in either 2004 or 2005.

His case was scheduled for a jury trial this week. Attorneys had begun selecting jurors and made arrangements for instructions to jurors if Taylor was not at the trial, as well as arrangements for what he was allowed to wear if he did attend.

The judge ruled in May that the trial would proceed with or without Taylor after both his attorneys and prosecutors said they had made efforts to locate him but could not.

After failing to appear for hearings up until Thursday, Taylor's warrant was recalled Tuesday with a note that he had been arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 28.

In the fall of 2023, Taylor repeatedly missed virtual court hearings. His attorney said he was unable to attend virtual hearings on his own after his nurse died.

Previously, 4th District Judge Roger Griffin determined after reviewing medical reports that Taylor was exaggerating his poor health in order to delay his case and ordered him to turn himself in to the jail. At the time, Taylor was living in Colorado, but he lived in Provo when charges were filed in 2018.

At the latest hearing in that case in February, his attorney said he was in a Colorado hospital and a warrant for him was still active.

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Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.

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