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Fake-officer case sparks calls, leads

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The search continued Thursday for two men who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman after posing as police officers and pulling her over for speeding. But investigators said the case has sparked a lot of interest and they have several fresh leads.

A 19-year-old woman was raped just after midnight Wednesday after a dark, midsize vehicle with flashing red lights and alternating brights pulled her over in the Fort Union area near Highland Drive. A man wearing a dark-blue, buttoned shirt asked the woman if she knew she was speeding and then asked her to step out of the car. Detectives said the woman was then forced into the back seat of her car and assaulted while the second man stood guard.

"Being pulled over by police is frightening enough anyway," Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy Peggy Faulkner said. "It was said best (Wednesday), to have this happen is a slap in the face to us, too."

A computer-generated image of the alleged assailant was released Wednesday afternoon. Faulkner said the composite drawing has sparked numerous phone calls and e-mails to the sheriff's office from people who think they recognize the man.

"We have quite a few leads to follow," she said.

No one has reported having a similar encounter, and no one has called to report seeing the men's vehicle.

The case has also sparked questions about what motorists are allowed to do if they are pulled over. If a driver is being pulled over by a marked or unmarked vehicle, he or she can continue moving to the first well-lit or public area but must put on hazard lights and proceed at a very slow speed to acknowledge the officer.

A driver cannot completely ignore the officer and keep moving, Faulkner said. Drivers can also request to see a badge and identification from all officers.

The assailant was described as a white male in his mid-20s with sandy-brown hair cut in a flat top. He stood about 6-foot-2. The second man stood about 5-foot-9 and had a more muscular build.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office at 743-5827.

E-MAIL: preavy@desnews.com