Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen, right, along with his attorney, Kurt Altman, leave after Petersen's arraignment hearing in Phoenix, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Petersen pleaded not guilty to fraud and theft charges stemming from an alleged human smuggling scheme involving pregnant women from the Marshall Islands who were brought to the U.S. to give birth for adoptions. (AP Photo/Jacques Billeaud)
PHOENIX (AP) — A leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says he is “disgusted” by an Arizona elected official and church member accused of running an adoption scheme.
Ronald Rasband, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told The Arizona Republic the church leadership has found the human smuggling charges against Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen “sickening.”
It’s the first time an official with The Church has weighed in on Petersen’s case. The Quorum is the highest governing body after the president.
Rasband says they will also review Petersen’s membership.
Prosecutors in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas say Petersen brought pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to the U.S. and paid them to give up their babies for adoption.