Former LDS leader sentenced for sending sexual images to teen girls

James Raborn

An Oakland man will spend four months in jail after pleading guilty to four misdemeanor sexual abuse charges.

On July 28, James Raborn, 27, pleaded guilty to two amended counts of lascivious acts with minor, and single counts of disseminating sexual materials to a minor and sexual exploitation of a minor, all misdemeanors.

On Tuesday morning, Raborn was sentenced to five years in prison. Raborn is married with children, and his wife was in the courtroom on Tuesday.

As part of the plea agreement, Fourth Judicial District Judge Mark Eveloff suspended all but 120 days of the sentence. Starting at 6 p.m. on Sept. 1, Raborn will serve 120 days in the Pottawattamie County Jail.

Raborn was also placed on supervised probation for two years and, after his jail sentence, he will be need to finish the sex offender treatment program at the Fourth Judicial District’s Residential Treatment Facility in Council Bluffs.

Initially, Raborn was charged with two felony counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. According to court documents, Raborn worked as a local ward young men president for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

According to the LDS webpage, the ward young men president serves as a member of the ward priesthood executive committee and the ward council. As a member of this committee and council, he participates in efforts to build faith and strengthen individuals and families. Investigators interviewed a representative with the LDS church who said that Raborn was a member of its clergy.

Investigators with the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office said that Raborn met the two 16-year-old girls in his role as ward young men president.

Since Raborn’s arrest on Feb. 12, his attorney, Jordan Glaser, has been arguing that ward young men president is an untrained position with little power and doesn’t meet the criteria of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. Glaser said Raborn no longer holds any leadership position with the church.

Glaser added that while 16 is the age of consent in Iowa, the teen girls would have had to be 18 for Raborn to legally send the girls sexual images.

Raborn will have to register as a sex offender and be placed on special parole for the next 10 years.

Eveloff also approved a no-contact order, which bans Raborn from contacting the victims for five years. If Raborn violates the terms of probation, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

During the next 30 days, the Pottawattamie County Attorney’s Office will decide if Raborn will have to pay restitution to the victims. Assistant Pottawattamie County Attorney Shelly Sudmann, who prosecuted the case, said members of the victims’ families have taken time off work to help the victims deal with the incidents.

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