Scott Dale Owen, a former LDS bishop and mental health counselor in Utah, faces serious allegations after being charged with multiple counts of forced sodomy and object rape. Owen, 64, lured male clients into sexual relationships under the guise of “person-centered” therapy, exploiting their search for help with same-sex attraction.
Manipulation Disguised as Therapy
The charges, filed in the 4th District Court, detail a disturbing pattern of abuse. Over a dozen men, who sought Owen’s help for issues related to same-sex attraction, described how he manipulated them. According to police reports, Owen falsely promised his victims that his therapy could mend their relationships with men and lead to ‘normal’ relationships with women.
A Pattern of Deceit and Coercion
Owen’s approach to therapy involved inappropriate physical contact, including kissing, cuddling, and sexual touching, under the pretext of treatment. His alleged crimes, dating back to 2010 and 2017, were committed during therapy sessions. Disturbingly, Owen also served as the ecclesiastical leader for some of his victims, further blurring the lines between spiritual guidance and abuse.
Legal and Ethical Breaches
These allegations are not the first against Owen. He had previously faced accusations of malpractice and inappropriate conduct with clients, leading to a reprimand by the Utah Division of Professional Licensing in 2016. Despite relinquishing his license, Owen continued his practice at Canyon Counseling Center in Provo, which has since closed and been replaced by a new entity.
The Ongoing Investigation
The Provo police’s investigation into Owen’s actions began in August. Recently, after failing to surrender as scheduled, Owen was found after a four-hour standoff and taken into custody without incident. The case against Owen not only spotlights the misuse of a position of trust but also raises critical questions about the oversight of therapeutic practices, especially in sensitive areas like counseling for sexual orientation issues.