LDS Missionary Charged with Sexual Assault in Vegas

LDS Missionary Charged with Sexual Assault in Vegas

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LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A 20-year-old Mormon missionary is facing felony charges after he was accused of fondling two young girls at a church in Las Vegas, authorities said.

John Misseldine, of Little Rock, Ark., was free without bail Wednesday after he was arrested Sunday and charged with sexual assault with a victim under 14 and lewdness with a minor, police and a church official said.

Las Vegas police Lt. Jeff Carlson said Misseldine knew the girls, ages 4 and 8, and their family through his work as a missionary.

A Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints official said Misseldine "denies adamantly that he did anything wrong at all," and will be cleared.

"The doors were open and people were coming in and out of this room that he was in with the girls, and nobody saw anything inappropriate," said Will Stoddard, a regional spokesman for the church. "It seems rather unlikely that it happened."

Misseldine could not immediately be reached Wednesday for comment.

The sexual assault charge carries a possible sentence of life in prison.

Misseldine was released Monday from the Clark County Detention Center after Stoddard said church officials promised a judge that Misseldine would be supervised closely by church officials in an administrative position where he won't deal with the public.

The woman told sex assault detectives the two girls were left with Misseldine during services Sunday at a Mormon stake in Las Vegas.

The woman told police that one girl later told her that Misseldine put his hand up her dress and moved her panties, and the other girl said Misseldine touched her crotch through her clothes, according to a police report.

The children were examined at a Las Vegas hospital, but the results were not included in the report.

Stoddard said the girls became restless during a church service, and went with Misseldine to a room where he showed them cartoon videos and gave them paper and crayons.

The church official said Misseldine's missionary companion went in the room three times during the 45 minute period, and another woman also visited the room at least once.

Stoddard said Misseldine and his missionary companion violated a church rule that they stay within sight of one another at all times whenever they are in public.

"That rule is for this very reason," he said.

The church spokesman said Misseldine was due to complete his two-year mission this summer.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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