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The Sanpete Messenger

Child sodomy case is example of chief’s ‘paperwork’ problem

Child sodomy case is example of chief’s ‘paperwork’ problem

 

John Hales

Staff writer

6/29/2017

 

EPHRAIM—Amid responses that either justify Ephraim Police Chief Ron Rasmussen as being overworked, or impugn him as being lazy and incompetent, not many have gone so far as to utter the words “criminal conduct.”

Except one. A former Ephraim resident says not only was paperwork in her case left undone, but that this failure was part of a larger cover-up of a serious crime.

Contrary to an apparent misconception that “unfinished paperwork” was just so many statistics that didn’t quite get filled in, or some other “administrative” omission, a preliminary examination by the Messenger shows that the lapse consisted of missing police reports. That could mean alleged suspects are never prosecuted and that victims will not recieve justice.

Rachelle Adair alleged that just such a felony—sodomy of a child—happened to her son, and that Rasmussen may have obstructed justice in failing to pursue the case.

Adair brought the matter to light in a Facebook post following news Rasmussen had been put on administrative leave.

Rasmussen had many ardent defenders in the comments sections of websites where news stories appeared. Amid the praise, however, Adair took steps set the record—at least hers—straight.

Using sometimes scathing language, she has accused the chief of hindering an investigation, tampering with evidence and failing even to provide documentation so any case could proceed through the court system.

“The justice system wanted to work properly,” she wrote. “However, Ron failed to do his job as chief.”

The Messenger was unable to reach Adair for an interview, but through her Facebook posts and information provided by other sources, a version of the story can be pieced together.

Sometime in 2012, it is alleged, a teenage boy sexually abused at least two younger boys. The abuse was reported and an officer, called a “detective” by Adair, investigated. Rasmussen, she and others say, took the first officer off the case and assigned himself, for unknown reasons.

“Our case…went nowhere after this detective was removed. The proper documentation and children’s interviews were never provided to requesting agencies,” Adair wrote.

She said she became aware of similar complaints regarding the same perpetrator, as well as a report of illegal drug use at the same location where the abuse allegedly occurred, but that case also went nowhere, again due to the lack of proper police documentation.

The police report on the case, which the Messenger received through a records information request, shows almost nothing.

The report was written on Oct. 23, 2012, by Chief Rasmussen. But records indicate the case started some months before.

Though Adair says another officer first investigated, Rasmussen is listed as the initial investigator. There is no incident summary or narrative detailing either the complaint or any investigation, merely, “Report of sexual abuse at above address,” followed by the redacted name of an individual. The crime was listed as “Sexual assault, sodomy boy strongarm.”

There is no reference to interviews, recorded or not, of anyone. Adair maintains her child was indeed interviewed.

The only other guidance the report gives is that it was “referred other jurisdiction,” though that jurisdiction is nowhere named.

A second, related report appears to have been created to document various requests for information the police department was receiving about the alleged sexual abuse case.

Those requests, however, begin in July 2012, indicating that reports of the case should exist dating from at least then. If such reports exist, they are as yet unavailable to the Messenger.

One the second report, there is a request the Division of Family and Children’s Services made in July 2012 for information about the abuse.

A notation made by Judy Gines, police department secretary at the time, indicates she asked one officer for a report, but he responded that another officer had taken over the case (neither officer was named). Gines asked the second officer for the report “but an incident number had not yet been generated,” which means a report had not been writen.

On Oct. 22, 2012, the department received an “urgent” second request from a Crime Victims Reparations (CRV) representative.

“At this time, the report is still under investigation and [name redacted] is not on the report,” is the secretary’s notation to the Oct. 22 request.

CRV requested again on Oct. 26, Nov. 26, Dec. 12 and Dec. 20, by which time the one-page incident report had been written, but with no information other than that the case, by that time, was “inactive.”

The Utah Attorney General’s Office—most likely the Child Protection Division, though there is lack of specificity in the accompanying note—also requested information, apparently unsuccessfully, on Oct. 26 of that year.

“Our case was a serious case and needed to be handled properly to stop this nasty cycle so no other children could be hurt,” Adair wrote.

She and others maintain that not only was the case handled improperly, but that it may have been intentionally so.

She wrote, “It had been brought to my attention that Ron was asked to let this case slide under the rug.”

In an earlier Facebook post, which she later removed, Adair provided more details, some of which were reiterated by another Messenger source.

All of them said either a neighbor, longtime friend, fellow LDS ward member or combination of all three, who was a worker at the Central Utah Correctional Facility, “persuaded” (Adair’s word) Rasmussen to let the case slide.”

“The sad part,” Adair wrote in her first, now-removed post, “is my boys were being told what Ron was doing to help protect the reputation of these people. Although it’s been years and the damage has been done I still feel an urgency to step in.”

Besides the alleged denial of justice for victims, Adair fears what the failure to properly pursue the case might have done. Are there other victims? What about the obviously troubled perpetrator who five years later is now an adult?

“Unfortunately, there is a perpetrator out there that has never been tried and has never received the help this individual needs,” Adair wrote.

The Messenger is awaiting Ephraim City’s responses on other public information records requests, including any police report written by Chief Rasmussen since 2007.

The Messenger was unable to reach Rasmussen for comment as of press time.