Ronald Rasband, a general authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks on Oct. 18, 2019, to The Arizona Republic Editorial Board. (Photo: Brady Klain/The Republic)

A top leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints denounced Paul Petersen's adoption scheme as "sickening."
Ronald Rasband, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said Petersen's membership in the church does not exonerate his conduct nor excuse any wrongdoing.
“We’re just as disgusted with it as anybody," Rasband told The Arizona Republic in a recent interview. “The details of this case are sickening.”
The Quorum is the second-highest governing body in the church, after the president, and helps set worldwide policy for its 17 million members.
Rasband's comments mark the first time the church has taken a public position on the case, which is reverberating with political, cultural and legal implications.  
He acknowledged the church will review Petersen's membership.
Petersen is the elected Maricopa County assessor. He was indicted on human trafficking charges last month in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas related to his private adoption practice in  Mesa.
Authorities say Petersen illegally transported pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to the U.S., fraudulently enrolled them for Medicaid and orchestrated adoptions of their children to American families for up to $40,000 each.
Neither Petersen nor his attorney would comment on Rasband's remarks.
Petersen has pleaded not guilty to charges in Arizona and Arkansas and is scheduled to appear Friday in a Utah court.