PD: Former LDS bishop Michael Coleman arrested on count of luring minor for sexual exploitation

MESA, AZ - A former LDS bishop was arrested on a class 3 felony count of allegedly luring a minor for sexual exploitation, according to Mesa police.

Michael Wayne Coleman, 53, was arrested on Jan. 16 after an investigation that began in November 2013. When the investigation began, Coleman was the bishop of the Lehi Second Ward in Mesa. Police say they believe Coleman was removed from his position as bishop.

Police received a tip from a foreign exchange student company Educatius International after a 16-year-old male student told them of an inappropriate Facebook chat, according to police.

Police said Coleman allegedly made comments to the student about getting a kiss and a hug from him.

Educatius International suspended Coleman immediately after receiving the complaint from the student, and the company turned over the man's company laptop and cell phone.

After an internal review, Educatius found additional communication they deemed inappropriate, so they fired Coleman and turned the evidence over to police, company spokesman David Leibowitz said in a statement.

Police said they found evidence of an additional elicit sexual conversation with a 17-year-old male.

Educatius said they conduct thorough background checks on all applicants, even those who don't have any contact with students. 

"We had no reason to be concerned about Coleman prior to the student's complaint," Leibowitz said. "Educatius stands vigilant at all times to ensure the safety of all sponsored students."

Coleman admitted to having these conversations with both victims, but did not admit to any sexual contact with them, according to police.

Police are continuing to investigate the matter to see if there are any other victims.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated it has "zero tolerance" for any type of abuse. 

"When the Church became aware of these charges, Coleman was released as a bishop to allow him to attend to legal proceedings," said church spokesman Eric Hawkins. "We are supportive of the efforts of authorities to ensure this situation is addressed appropriately."

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