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Woman files claim, accuses policeman

She says South S.L. officer molested her

A 19-year-old woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by a former South Salt Lake police officer has filed a notice of claim with the city.

The city now has 90 days to respond or risk being sued.

The woman says she was walking home from a party with a friend on July 2 when they were stopped by a South Salt Lake police officer. The officer called for backup and gave each a Breathalyzer test, said Alan Mortensen, the woman's attorney.

"Police reports say she blew a .19," Mortensen said, which is more than twice the legal limit.

The officer told the woman's friend to go home, the attorney said. He then allegedly told the girl she had two options.

"He said, 'I can take you to jail or you can come to my apartment, sober up and then you can walk home,' " Mortensen said.

The woman chose to go to the officer's apartment. He then persuaded her to sleep on his bed and wear a T-shirt and sweat pants that he provided, Mortensen said.

He claimed his client woke up later that morning and found the officer "on top of her and sexually molesting her."

South Salt Lake police declined comment.

But in an Aug. 19 letter to the South Salt Lake Police Department, Salt Lake County prosecutors said they declined to file forcible sexual abuse charges because of inconsistencies in the woman's story.

The letter from the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office said the investigation showed the woman said she was unable to remember the trip to the officer's apartment or walking to the door but could describe the events inside the apartment and even used his computer to check her e-mail.

The officer failed a polygraph test and then admitted to touching the woman, according to both the notice of claim and the DA's letter.

However, in the district attorney's letter the officer said contact was consensual and when she later told him to stop, he did. The woman said she could not remember if she participated before telling him to stop, according to the letter.

In criminal proceedings it is up to the state to show beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.

"We could not possibly meet that burden when (the woman) cannot remember," the letter stated.

"The inconsistencies in the stories of both (the woman and the officer) make a determination of who to believe difficult," according to the district attorney's letter.

Although the district attor- ney declined to file charges, a letter written by South Salt Lake Police Chief Theresa Garner to the woman on Aug. 31 said the officer's "actions were in violation of department policy." But before South Salt Lake police could take disciplinary action, the officer resigned on Aug. 26 after five years on the force.

The woman now seeks acknowledgment from South Salt Lake that "something went horribly wrong" and undetermined monetary damages, Mortensen said, who noted his client was undergoing counseling.

Mortensen said the officer had to have had some type of preconceived plan in taking his client to his home.

"It just doesn't make sense that a police officer is going to take a 19-year-old who is clearly intoxicated and not have some design," he said. "As someone as intoxicated as she was, she couldn't have given consent. She should have been taken to the hospital. To be taken to his home is outrageous."


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com