PAYSON — The resignation of Payson Police Chief Dee Rowland in February came just days after the city attorney recommended disciplinary action against the chief for a string of incidents related to a child sex-abuse case.

In a report obtained by the Deseret Morning News, City Attorney Dave Tuckett scrutinizes Rowland's actions in connection with the case of the teenage son of a Payson police officer who was convicted of sexually abusing a 6-year-old neighbor girl.

Tuckett said he didn't know if his recommendation of discipline had anything to do with Rowland's resignation, and city administrator Andy Hall said he didn't ask Rowland to resign.

Rowland said he didn't know about Tuckett's recommendation at the time of his resignation.

"I don't know anything about the discipline," he said. "I resigned. I wasn't fired."

Tuckett's report, obtained through a request citing the Government Records Access and Management Act, said Rowland and other city officers acted inappropriately on more than one occasion.

During an interview, Tuckett said the city had other minor complaints about Rowland.

"There was some concern," Tuckett said. "We had other verbal complaints."

The only written complaint was from the woman whose daughter was abused.

Tuckett, in his report, said Rowland and Payson Police Lt. Bill Wright acted inappropriately during incidents on April 10 and Dec. 22 of last year.

In early April 2004 police arrested the officer's teenage son for investigation of sexually abusing his neighbor's daughter. The boy was released and back home when a biker club — Bikers Against Child Abuse — showed up at the girl's home on April 10, 2004.

The bikers were there at the request of the girl's mother.

Most of the group didn't know the boy lived next door. But the attorney for the boy's family, Melinda Morgan, said BACA members were revving their engines and pointing to his home, intimidating his family.

The boy's father, a Payson police officer, called police, and officers responded from Payson, Utah County and Provo. The girl's mother said she counted more than 20 officers at the scene.

Tuckett said Provo police told Payson's Wright not to respond, in an effort to deter a conflict-of-interest problem. Payson officers disregarded that request, went to the scene and the argument ensued between the bikers and Payson officers.

BACA chapter president Chris Clark said most BACA members learned the teen accused of abusing the girl lived next door when Wright shouted it out to them, telling the group to leave.

Following that incident, the girl's mother said Payson police began to follow her, her husband and BACA members.

"If (the Payson police) saw one of us drive by they would whip around and follow us," she said.

She complained to Mayor Bernell Evans in May 2004. Evans said he spoke with Hall about it, and she says the officers stopped following them.

Meanwhile, the police officer's teenage son went through the juvenile court system. He no longer lives at the Payson home, Tuckett said.

The mother of the girl has filed a lawsuit in 4th District Court against family of the boy who abused her daughter. The suit alleges negligence, claiming the neighbors ran a day care for children out of their home and left the teenage son in charge of children while knowing of his alleged history of child sexual abuse.

Morgan said the family runs a salon out of their home, not a day-care center, and occasionally cares for neighborhood children. The boy's parents had "no idea" of their son's history of sexual abuse, Morgan added.

The boy's family has countersued, alleging that their vehicles were damaged by the girl's family in retaliation for the abuse.

The woman's attorney, John Romney, denied she had anything to do with the damage.

In the other incident, Romney's client was concerned for her safety after a September break-in at her home. She felt that police weren't helping her, so on Dec. 22 she went to see Rowland.

The meeting ended in a shouting match, and Rowland ordered her out of his office. Tuckett said in his report that Rowland acted inappropriately.

"That happened, but I was never talked to (by city officials) about it," Rowland said.

Tuckett said he didn't learn of the trouble between the woman and Payson police until January, when Provo prosecutor Steve Schreiner, chairman of the Utah Council on Victims of Crime, brought a complaint the woman filed about Payson police to his attention.

Tuckett started his investigation in January. He completed the report in February.

The City Council named Tuckett interim chief until it replaced Rowland on April 6 with Tom Runyon, a 21-year veteran of the police force. It was the second time in his career that Tuckett has acted as interim chief. He was serving in that position when Rowland was named chief three years ago.

Upon his resignation, the city paid Rowland $10,742.69 for benefits he had earned. Mayor Bernell Evans said the city also paid Rowland two more paychecks of $2,771.55. The last one came on March 11.


E-mail: rodger@desnews.com