FARMINGTON — A jury found a former Davis County correctional officer not guilty Monday of having an illegal sexual relationship with a woman while she was in jail.
Michael David Mueller, 53, was acquitted Monday of custodial sexual relations after a three-day trial, his attorney confirmed. Mueller was charged with the single third-degree felony count in January 2015.
Defense attorney Rich Gallegos believed the jury agreed with his argument that it was the woman who instigated sexual conduct, not Mueller. The jury deliberated for about an hour before returning the verdict.
"She had a plan, and she's the one who engaged in the sexual act, not him," Gallegos said Monday. "She was in the process of putting her plan into place and the jury saw through that. … Clearly she had something different in mind."
At a preliminary hearing in October, the 37-year-old woman testified that she recognized Mueller from previous stays at the Davis County Jail, but after being booked on a parole violation in late June 2015, the deputy began talking to her and kissed her a few times in the utility closet and an alcove in the jail.
The woman said that in September 2014 she was called from her cell one night, purportedly to look at a paint spill in the utility closet. Once there, she and Mueller engaged briefly in a sex act. The woman said she got nervous and pulled away, while Mueller told a detective he was the one who became alarmed and pulled away during the seconds-long encounter.
The woman claimed she didn't want the attention from the deputy but feared what might happen if she reported it.
"I felt like it was a line that shouldn't have been crossed. I wasn't comfortable with it," the woman testified. "At this point I was an inmate in jail. It was my thinking that it was my word against a deputy."
When Gallegos pressed the woman on whether she sought gifts or special treatment from Mueller, she answered that since she was in a situation she didn't know how to get out of, "why not get something out of it?"
Prosecutor Susan Hunt countered that the question was irrelevant because, as an inmate, the woman wasn't legally able to give consent.