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2 fake officers sought

Woman says they stopped her car, then assaulted her

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Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies are looking for two men who allegedly posed as police officers and sexually assaulted a woman after pulling her over for speeding.

The incident occurred between midnight and 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. A 19-year-old woman was driving in the area of Fort Union Boulevard and Highland Drive when a car that had been following her for 5 to 7 minutes flashed a red light similar to a police vehicle, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Capt. Dave Burdett. She pulled over in a residential neighborhood just off Highland Drive.

Two men approached the woman's car. One of them was dressed in a long-sleeved dark blue shirt and had handcuffs in his back pocket. He asked the woman, "Did you know you were speeding?" Burdett said. He then asked the woman to step out of the vehicle.

When the woman stepped out, she was forced into the backseat of her car and assaulted while the other man stood guard outside, Burdett said. The alleged attacker made several threats against the woman's life during the assault, he said.

After the assault, the men drove away. The woman drove to a nearby location and called police.

Burdett described the victim as extremely "terrified" and "traumatized" but said she worked many hours with investigators Wednesday to help them try to identify the assailants and the car they were driving. Detectives said they want the men captured as much as the victim does.

"This is a slap in our face also," Burdett said. "This is personal to us, too."

To prevent something like this from happening again, Burdett said the public should know that it's rare for an unmarked car to ever pull over a vehicle for speeding. And officers hardly ever ask a person pulled over for speeding to step out of his or her vehicle.

"They prefer you sit in your vehicle as motionless as possible," Burdett said.

If a driver has a question whether he or she is being pulled over by a legitimate officer, that person can first drive at a slow speed to the nearest well-lit or public area, he said. When the officer approaches the car, the driver only has to roll the window down part way.

All officers are required to carry a badge and identification, Burdett said. And if a driver still isn't convinced that an officer is legitimate, "that person is totally in their rights to ask for a marked car," he said.

Investigators said they have not had any other similar incidents reported to their office.

The assailant was described as a white male in his mid-20s. He was about 6-foot-3 and had a medium build. His hair was sandy brown cut in a flat-top. The second man was described as a white male about 5-foot-9 with a more muscular build.

The vehicle the men were driving was described as a dark colored mid-size car, like a Honda Accord but wider, Burdett said.

"Impersonating police is the least of their concerns," he said of the assailants.

Anyone who may have information on the men or may have also been pulled over by "suspicious" cops in the area from 7000 South to 9400 South and Highland Drive between 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and 12:30 a.m. Wednesday is asked to call the sheriff's office at 743-5827.

E-MAIL: preavy@desnews.com