PROVO — A former state hospital worker has been accused of sexually abusing three young female patients. Now, the same 20-year-old Orem man also stands charged with raping a 15-year-old girl in September.
Police say Jason Eric Thorkelson sexually abused three patients between the ages of 14 and 18 while working as a psychology technician at the Utah State Hospital in Provo between February and March of last year.
Karen Mayne, Provo police spokeswoman, said the three girls were patients in the hospital's behavioral problems section. Police began investigating when one of the girls told hospital staff about the alleged abuse.
Thorkelson is scheduled to stand trial in March on two counts of second-degree felony forcible sex abuse in the case.
But police in Pleasant Grove also believe Thorkelson is the same man who raped a 15-year-old girl at a park last fall.
According to police, a man matching his description picked up two Timpanogos High School students in Orem who were truant from school Sept. 14.
Pleasant Grove Police Capt. Cody Cullimore said the man then drove the 15- and 16-year-old girls to Kiwanis Park on the east side of Pleasant Grove. When the man began going beyond kissing, the 15-year-old told police she ran from the car. Cullimore said the man was able to persuade the girl to get back into the car with him.
Cullimore said the 16-year-old took her books and sat behind a tree to do her studies while the other two were in the car. "She kind of left them to be alone, it sounds like," Cullimore said.
After getting back into the car, the 15-year-old girl told police the man threw himself on her and forced her into oral sex and sexual intercourse.
Five days after the alleged attack, Thorkelson was arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail, where he remains incarcerated. He is charged with two counts of forcible sodomy and one count of rape, all first-degree felonies, in connection with the Pleasant Grove incident. Thorkelson could be sentenced to prison for life if convicted.
In 4th District Court Monday, Utah County public defense attorney Christine Johnson said Thorkelson is working out a plea bargain on the rape case but asked the court for more time for negotiations.
Thorkelson is scheduled to be back in court Jan. 28 to enter a plea to charges in the rape case.