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Police say rape victim had prior relationship with attacker

Investigators don’t believe assault was completely random

SHARE Police say rape victim had prior relationship with attacker

Police say a woman raped at gunpoint by a former car salesman who allegedly found her address off a credit report had a prior relationship with the man.

Investigators Thursday said they still believed an aggravated rape took place and that they are not minimizing the crime, but they don't believe the attack was completely random as originally reported, said West Valley Assistant Police Chief Craig Black.

Cleon Jones, 34, was arrested Feb. 15 on multiple first-degree felonies after an 18-year-old woman said she was raped at her West Valley apartment. The victim told police that her attacker, a car salesman at Stockton to Malone Honda, 10860 Auto Mall Drive (120 West), had used the credit application she filled out at the dealership to track her down.

She told police the man threatened to kill her and her family, saying that he knew where they lived "due to his employment."

But after additional investigation and speaking with witnesses, Black said detectives now believe the story is only half true.

"The initial information she gave out was not complete," he said. "Information has come to light that she did know who he was . . . we do have information these two had a prior relationship before the alleged sexual assault took place. There is evidence to suggest to us that her involvement with this guy included them both being involved in some criminal activity."

As for whether the man ever told the woman he tracked down her family using her credit application, "That statement is highly suspect to me right now based on what I know,"

But he also stressed that regardless of their prior relationship, "she didn't deserve to have this happen. He is still a predator."

Jones, who is wanted on a parole violation out of San Bernardino, Calif., where he served nine years of a 16-year sentence for manslaughter beginning in 1993, still faces a potential aggravated rape charge based on the West Valley incident.

In addition, federal charges will likely be screened against Jones for drug and firearms violations. Investigators found drugs and a gun stolen out of Nevada during a search of Jones' apartment.

Jones had worked at Stockton to Malone from the spring of 2003 until Feb. 10 of this year.

Black was very complimentary of Stockton to Malone Thursday, saying the company had been very open and forthcoming about Jones. He said the dealership did nothing wrong and their business practices should not be questioned.

"There is no way they could have or should have known what was reasonably going on there," he said. "I would have no reservations about doing business with this company."

Jones applied for a car dealership salesman license in 2003. That licensing procedure includes a check for any active warrants, both locally and nationally, basic criminal history in Utah and a fingerprint-based criminal background check of seven states that are members of a shared database system that includes Utah.

California is not one of those seven states.

Stockton to Malone was aware of Jones' manslaughter conviction, according to the Utah Department of Corrections.

Jones came to Utah under a compact parole agreement, meaning the Utah Department of Corrections agreed to supervise him and send progress reports back to California, said spokesman Jack Ford.

The Corrections Department made visits to Jones' apartment as well as Stockton to Malone as part of that supervision, he said.

Jones' parole was scheduled to end in December, but the Corrections Department did not know that Jones was arrested for investigation of simple assault, a class B misdemeanor, by Salt Lake police in November.

"(Jones) was supposed to tell us. He didn't," Ford said.

Jones even had a face-to-face interview with Utah authorities on Dec. 18 as part of his supervision and didn't mention the arrest, he said.

California authorities apparently learned of the arrest shortly after it happened, however, and revoked Jones' parole, Ford said.

But for a reason unknown Thursday, the paperwork informing Utah officials of Jones' parole violation was not delivered until early February.

"They issued a warrant in November; we didn't know about it," Ford said.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com