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Former child protection official rearrested on child sex abuse charges

Posted at 10:27 PM, Sep 15, 2022

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — After being released on charges of possession of child pornography, a former child protection official with the Utah Attorney General's Office has been rearrested on charges of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.

Gary Bell, 66, is once again in custody and is now facing 14 charges. After his initial release on the child pornography charges last week, Bell was fitted with an ankle monitor and given strict rules to follow, but after his devices were searched and analyzed, it became clear to investigators that not only possessed child pornography, but produced them as well.

The new charges against Bell will include 12 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated sexual abuse of a child and sodomy of a child

Investigators found the new images and found some that matched walls and furniture inside Bell's home

"Pictures and video that they had now showed Mr. Bell actually perpetrating these acts against at least one child," said Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah's County Sheriff's Office.

The victim in some of the photos found in Bell's possession involved a child as young as a year old.

Bell spent a number of years in the Attorney General's Office working on cases involving children, but it's not known if his employment with the department factored into his behavior.

"...we don't know when he may have turned this direction, whether he's been that way for decades and has just never been caught, or whether it's something that was a more recent development," said Cannon,

Bell's original arrest stemmed from a tip that came in to the Utah County Sheriff's Office on Aug. 4 from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

After obtaining a search warrant, police searched Bell's Spanish Fork home and found multiple images of child pornography. His wife also told officers that her husband had attempted to secretly record her without permission while she was in the shower.

Lance Bastin, a criminal defense attorney and former head of the Utah County Special Victims Unit within the county attorney’s office, shined light on the seriousness of Bell's offenses.

"Both the production and actually committing a sexual offense against a minor, I guess in my mind, and it's pretty subjective, but in my mind, those are equally have greater gravity than the simple possession," he said,

Bell is now in jail and being held without bond.

"It's beyond imagination how, how he could do that, and it's beyond disappointing to realize that it looks like he may have been involved in that," Cannon said.

The Utah Attorney General's office stressed in his role, Bell seldom, if ever, had direct interactions with children, but did work in the department and released a statement about his current status.

“Mr. Bell deserves his day in court, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our office works diligently to fight the kinds of sexual exploitation Mr. Bell is accused of in the charging docket. We will continue to bring justice for every sexual exploitation case investigated and prosecuted by the attorney general’s office. Mr. Bell’s prior connection to the office will in no way prevent the course of justice to prevail.”