Mormon church leader charged in Pennsylvania for not reporting sexual abuse allegations

A Mormon church leader in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania has been charged with not reporting sexual abuse allegations against another leader in the church.

Rhett Hintze, a stake president at seven Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints locations in the state, was charged Wednesday with “failure to report or refer” allegations that were made against Shawn Cory Gooden, an LDS official and Boy Scout leader, who was accused of abusing at least two victims in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Gooden, a leader with the church’s Lebanon ward, was charged in separate cases in Virginia in 2022 and Berks County, Pa. in 2023 with sexually assaulting a minor, ABC 27 reported.

Pennsylvania State Police said another assault was alleged to have occurred at a state park.

According to police, Gooden and the victim “had disclosed the sexual assault’ to Hintze as early as October 2020. Under Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law, Hintze’s role as a stake president, which includes counseling other church officials, made him a mandated reporter, one of many categories of people — like social workers and school employees — who “are required to report suspected child abuse if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse,” according to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

Hintze allegedly failed to report the abuse the proper authorities.

The law was expanded several years ago in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. More categories of people were put under the law’s umbrella as mandated reporters and penalties were beefed up.

Under Pennsylvania law, failure to report or refer, a third-degree felony, can carry a penalty of up to seven years in prison.

Hintze is also the chief operating officer at the Bravo Group in Harrisburg.