Former therapist and accused serial child abuser David Hamblin has been granted a $100,000 bail as he awaits multiple trials for felony sexual abuse of children related to the Utah County Sheriff’s ongoing investigation of ritualistic child abuse.
On Wednesday, as protesters gathered outside the courthouse and in the courtroom, Utah Judge Mandy Larsen set a $100,000 bail for David Lee Hamblin, a disgraced former therapist and accused child abuser. Judge Larsen allowed Hamblin to pay the bail with either cash or a bond.
Hamblin’s potential release is also contingent on a number of other conditions, including that a private company monitor him in the months leading to an eventual trial, he wear a GPS ankle monitor and be confined to house arrest, and agree not to have any contact with the alleged victims or their families. Hamblin was also ordered to forfeit his passport and agree not to apply for a new one while the case is pending.
Hamblin, a 68-year-old former therapist from Provo, has been held in Utah County Jail since his September 2022 arrest by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office for multiple first-degree felony sexual offenses against a child. He was booked for 3 counts of sodomy of a child, 1 count of rape of a child, 2 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, and 1 misdemeanor count of lewdness involving a child.
Hamblin is the first suspect to be arrested in the Utah County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) investigation into reports of ritualistic child sexual abuse from as far back as 1990. In May 2022, the UCSO announced they were working with multiple county and federal agencies on the investigation which originally began in April 2021. The investigation subsequently discovered previous reports alleging “similar forms of ritualistic sexual abuse and trafficking” that occurred in Utah County, Juab County, and Sanpete County during the time between 1990 and 2010.
Wednesday’s bail hearing was not directly tied to the UCSO investigation but instead dealt with accusations that Hamblin sexually abused a young boy two decades ago in Spring City, Utah. The alleged victim is now an adult who brought his story to the UCSO after learning of their original investigation into “ritualistic child abuse”.
The USCO press release describes the allegations of abuse in Sanpete County as follows:
“The victim in this case told Detectives the abuse occurred at Hamblin’s home where the victim was taken for therapy sessions. The victim disclosed to Detectives that during these sessions Hamblin made the victim masturbate Hamblin. The victim also disclosed that Hamblin forcibly sexually abused the victim. The victim also described that Hamblin administered religious blessings during some of the therapy sessions. The victim described disclosing the abuse, but that the concerns expressed were not taken seriously because of Hamblin’s standing both in the Spring City community and Hamblin’s standing because of his membership in and involvement with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
During the bail hearing, Juab County Attorney Ryan Peters confirmed that the alleged victim in Sanpete County “has been telling people his entire life about the abuse he suffered”. Peters noted that the victim’s sister and mother provided testimony that when he was a child he reported the abuse he suffered. The victim apparently continued to report on the abuse throughout middle school and high school.
Despite the accusations of sexual abuse against David Hamblin from multiple victims across multiple counties, Judge Larsen said she did not believe Hamblin presented a “current danger” to the community or a flight risk. Regarding claims made by an alleged victim in Utah County being followed and threatened, Judge Larsen said she was “not one to disagree with the Judge Griffin’s (of Utah County) ruling that there is no evidence that Hamblin was behind alleged threats to other victims.”
Judge Larsen did, however, find that “there is substantial evidence for the charges in this case”.
If David Hamblin chooses to accept the bail agreement he will be confined to house arrest until further court proceedings in Utah and Sanpete County.
Alleged Victims of Hamblin Fear the Worst
Heidi Nestel, one of the attorneys representing the victims, attempted to persuade Judge Larsen that allowing Hamblin to leave the jail puts the community at risk because of Hamblin’s admitted abuse of children, including his own daughters. “Having that proclivity and that propensity is something that doesn’t just go away,” Nestel told the court. “It would be an absolute travesty if Mr. Hamblin were released and another child was abused.”
Juab County Attorney Ryan Peters also discussed the danger posed by David Hamblin. “I will note that Mr. Hamblin has actually written a book on how to manipulate children,” Peters stated during the hearing. “I would also note that since giving up his license, the defendant has engaged in what he calls “healing circles” involving the use of peyote”. Peters also noted that during Hamblin’s divorce proceedings it was discovered that he had administered peyote to one of his own young children.
It is these so-called healing circles which The Last American Vagabond (TLAV) first reported on in our 2-part series “Kate’s Story”, detailing how Kate Talley, an associate of Hamblin and ex-wife of his friend Eldon Talley, witnessed the healing circles and suffered abuse.
Kate Talley says she sought help from the Mormon Church for her memories of ritual abuse. She says her bishop said they would try to help and encouraged her to call the church’s “help line”. Two weeks later she met with the bishop again and was told there was nothing he could do for her. Ultimately, she decided to leave the church in 2007 as she sought help elsewhere.
Shortly after leaving the church, her husband at the time, Eldon Talley, and his sister, would recommend David Hamblin’s “healing circles”. After participating in the circles and witnessing the influence Hamblin had over her then-husband, Kate began to express her concerns to Eldon. Kate claims this resulted in her being sexually and emotionally abused by Eldon under the guidance of David Hamblin.
Kate Talley is one of many alleged victims of Hamblin who fears that granting him bail could lead to more abuse.
“I am disappointed that Hamblin will be let out on such a low bail. I know many of his victims are feeling unsafe and afraid right now,” Talley told TLAV. “It’s heartbreaking. I’m sad today, but tomorrow I will fight on for so many who have been harmed by David Lee Hamblin and his accomplices.”
Talley said she was encouraged to see protesters at the in-person hearing and others watching online. She hopes that the victims and their supporters can “bring awareness to this case and hopefully justice will be served”.
Read TLAV’s previous reporting on the case against David Hamblin, accusations of ritual abuse within the Mormon Church, and the history of sexual abuse of children in Utah.