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FOX 13 Investigates: Registered sex offender allowed on campus

Both the sex offender and teacher who allowed him on campus face separate investigations
Posted at 11:08 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 15:13:57-04

BOX ELDER COUNTY. UTAH — The FOX 13 Investigates team is trying to determine how a registered sex offender was allowed to volunteer on a high school campus in Box Elder County for weeks.

Jeremy Rose used to be an officer with the Tremonton Police Department, until he was convicted on multiple sex crimes against a high-school aged girl in 2014.

He was caught tricking the minor into sending him naked photos in exchange for a fake modeling contract. He was also caught setting up hidden cameras to create his own personal collection of child pornography.

Rose served less than nine months behind bars. He has since attempted to live a normal life while on the registry.

Jeremy Rose's sex offender registry page on the Utah Department of Corrections website
Jeremy Rose's sex offender registry page on the Utah Department of Corrections website

Because his daughter is in the theater program at Bear River High School, Rose decided to volunteer to build props for the school play.

Parents and students were not notified that there would be a registered sex offender allowed on campus.

“I became aware of this story when the school play program was printed online and Jeremy Rose’s name was printed in bold letters and realized that Jeremy Rose was the registered sex offender in town,” said a mother, who asked to remain anonymous. “It was a really big story. I mean, everyone in town knew who he was.”

Jeremy Rose, a registered sex offender, is listed as a volunteer on the Bear River High School school play program
Jeremy Rose, a registered sex offender, is listed as a volunteer on the Bear River High School school play program

The anonymous mother said she was especially concerned because of the nature of Rose’s previous crimes. She filed multiple complaints with the principal and superintendent.

“It’s common understanding that registered sex offenders are not allowed around children,” she said. “(The victim was) the age of the students that he was working with at the high school… Unfortunately, Jeremy Rose was still allowed to stay on campus through the duration of the play (despite my complaints).”

Within hours of receiving a phone call from FOX 13, the Box Elder School District informed Rose he would no longer be allowed to volunteer on campus.

Superintendent Steve Carlsen declined to specify the reason why Rose was barred from campus.

“If we decide we don’t need you here as a volunteer, we just don’t have to accept you here as a volunteer,” Carlsen said. “We can turn down any volunteer that we want.”

“I think their hand was probably forced by this news story,” the anonymous mother said. “I was sending emails, and they weren’t taking action, but when the news story started to happen? They took action... The children’s safety should have made them take action. I think they were more concerned about saving face in the end.”

After speaking to FOX 13 briefly on the phone, Carlsen scheduled an interview to address the situation.

Carlsen did not show up for the appointment. He refused to reschedule.

“He’s had to run out to some schools,” his secretary said. “When something comes up he has to go take care of it.”

“He’s not available today?” asked FOX 13 investigative reporter Adam Herbets.

“He’s not,” the secretary responded.

“When is he done visiting schools?” Herbets asked.

“He wasn’t sure,” the secretary said.

“Would tomorrow work better?” Herbets asked.

“He won’t be in the office tomorrow,” the secretary said.

“Today’s Thursday,” Herbets said. “What about Monday?”

“You would have to check with him,” the secretary said.

“We can meet him at the school, if that’s easier for him?” Herbets asked.

“No,” the secretary responded.

Students expressed concern when they found out about the sex offender's presence on campus from FOX 13 rather than from their own school.

“It’s just weird. I mean, it shouldn’t have been allowed,” said a high school senior who asked to not be identified. “You don’t want that around. This is a high school, and the whole (hidden) camera thing especially? You don’t know what he’s up to… I know a few of the girls that are in the plays that I’d be worried for. That’s not okay.”

“Did the people in the play not know about it?” asked sophomore Paige Cutler. “Did they tell anyone?”

In an exclusive interview with FOX 13, Rose said drama teacher Derek Sorensen was aware of his status on the sex offender registry.

Rose identified Sorensen as a “family friend.”

Although the Box Elder School District declined to comment on whether registered sex offenders are allowed on campus, Sorensen defended Rose to parents.

“From a legal standpoint, he is complying with everything that is asked of him,” Sorensen wrote in an email to a concerned parent. “That may make people uncomfortable, but legally he is well within his boundaries and we have made sure that no child is ever put in a situation where it's deemed a risk."

Sorensen then offered to move the student.

“Which I felt was horrendous,” an anonymous mother said. “I felt like the proper response would have been to remove the registered sex offender from the situation… (Sorensen) didn’t ask the principal if it would be okay. He didn’t ask the superintendent if it would be okay. He just took the word of Jeremy Rose that it would be okay for him to come on campus and be around students.”

FOX 13 has obtained an email from principal AJ Gilmore in which the principal confirms he “did not know that (Rose) has been here.”

Requests for records from the Box Elder School District were declined due to an active investigation into Sorensen’s conduct.

Carlsen has not answered whether Sorensen is on administrative leave.

“If there needs to be discipline taken, we’ll take it,” Carlsen said.

“I think (Sorensen) should probably lose his job. I don’t believe in cancel culture in any way, but I think such an egregious action deserves a harsh punishment,” an anonymous mother said. “He didn’t go through the proper channels to have a volunteer at the school, and I feel like it shows extremely poor judgment.”

Students stopped short of saying Sorensen should be terminated, but they felt changes needed to be made.

“I feel like that’s something me as a student, if I’m going to be around them, I feel like I would deserve to know for my safety,” Cutler said. “That reflects badly on our school too. It also looks bad on our faculty and our principal and our district, but if they didn’t know about it, that’s not something they can control.”

Sorensen has not returned requests for comment from FOX 13.

Exclusive Interview: Jeremy Rose

In an exclusive interview with FOX 13, Rose defended Sorensen and his own presence on campus.

“What process did you go through to see whether you had permission to be on campus?” asked FOX 13 investigative reporter Adam Herbets.

“None,” Rose responded. “I didn’t get permission from anybody… I did what I would think any father would have done when he’s asked to help by his kids.”

According to state law, a sex offender may not be in a “protected area,” such as a school, except “when the sex offender must be in a protected area to perform the sex offender’s parental responsibilities.”

“It’s really vague on how the law is written, so you kind of have to make a decision as to what your ‘responsibility’ is as a parent,” Rose said. “Who decides what your responsibility as a parent is? For me, it’s me and my wife and my kids… Do you want somebody else deciding what your responsibility as a parent is?”

"A sex offender may not be in a protected area except when the sex offender must be in a protected area to perform the sex offender's parental responsibilities."
"A sex offender may not be in a protected area except when the sex offender must be in a protected area to perform the sex offender's parental responsibilities."

Rose said one of the reasons he felt a “responsibility” to volunteer for the school play was for his daughter’s safety. She was an actress in the play who climbed a fake tree on set. Rose said he wanted to make the tree safer.

“But somebody else could fix the tree, right?” Herbets asked.

“There’s a lot to that tree,” Rose responded. “Maybe somebody else could have done it.”

Jeremy Rose said he volunteered on campus to make this tree safer to climb for his daughter, who was in the school play.
Jeremy Rose said he volunteered on campus to make this tree safer to climb for his daughter, who was in the school play.

Rose said he has constructed items for the theater department in the past, but this is the first time he was on campus, because the props on stage were too big to move back to his shop.

“I was around very few students,” Rose said. “They’re the tech - it’s the tech side of drama - and there’s only like ten of them. They’re the ones that go in on Saturdays to build the props and stuff.”

Rose said he kept his interactions with other students “very very minimal” in order to prevent concerned parents from “causing trouble.”

“I sorted it out with Derek (Sorensen) that I would go late at night when nobody was actually at the school,” Rose said. “I don’t want to spend time with kids. I’m sure they’re great kids. I really don’t want to spend time with them.”

“Do you think (parents or students) should have been notified?” Herbets asked.

“No. I think that, as long as I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, it’s the equivalent of — do I need to go to Walmart and get on the PA and tell everyone at Walmart that I’m on the registry?” Rose asked.

“In their mind, this is different than going to Walmart,” Herbets responded. “These are minor children.”

“I can understand where they’re coming from. If they feel like they need to be notified, there’s just nothing that (requires me) to notify even Derek (Sorensen),” Rose said. “I don’t have time to be doing other stuff.”

“Do you have time to be telling people your status on the registry?” Herbets asked.

“I guess. I mean, I like to think I don’t. I’m a pretty busy guy,” Rose responded. “I can’t see the point in trying to make my family’s life more miserable.”

Rose also insisted, each time he was on campus, he was supervised — usually by his wife or Sorensen.

“It’s not that I don’t care about other people’s children, and it’s not to sound selfish, but I do what I need to do to protect myself,” Rose said.

In a text message sent to FOX 13, one mother said her child told her that’s not true.

“My student worked on the tech crew and had direct contact with Jeremy,” the parent wrote. “When my husband and I asked our student if they had been in contact with Jeremy Rose while working on the set, they were so excited to tell us about how awesome his job was and that he got to do all these cool sets for commercials and movies.”

“I felt like someone punched me in the gut. None of those students would have had any second thought about talking to him or being approached by him outside of school. He helped them out and had cool stories to tell them about something they were all interested in. Grooming 101.”

“I do feel like he was unsupervised. My student said sometimes other adults would walk through the area, but it was not a consistent thing. I felt even with that that he had too much access to other areas of the school. Especially with his voyeurism history.”

Rose insisted evidence will prove he was always supervised.

“Every second I was there, I was on (surveillance) camera,” Rose said. “So if anyone ever tried to bring anything up? There you go.”

Although Rose said he understands why sex offender restrictions are important, he went on to argue that registered sex offenders are often “some of the safest people out there” compared to strangers.

“I can guarantee you that those kids are safer with an honest person that is on the registry,” Rose said. “They’re probably some of the safest people out there, just because they’re so concerned about covering themselves… the recidivism rate of people who have gone through (counseling) is very very low.”

“If there was somebody hanging out at the high school that had no kids there or no business being there, I would be right with you saying, ‘Why is this person here?’ because I get it.”

There have not been any students who have publicly accused Rose of doing anything inappropriate while on campus.

Upon learning that Sorensen was under investigation by the Box Elder School District, Rose defended the drama teacher’s character.

According to Rose, Sorensen did nothing wrong.

“I’ll go to jail right now for him,” Rose said. “He is actually probably one of the most vigilant people I’ve ever met… In a perfect world, I would hope that he would be praised for his willingness to accept people and accept that people can change.”

During the interview, Rose listened to quotes read out loud from concerned students.

“I’m careful to respond and give an impression of what a high-school aged student would say,” Rose said. “I respect that they’re — I don’t know that they’ve lived long enough. I mean, I’m sorry. If it, in any way, made anybody feel uncomfortable, it was never my intent, and I’m sorry.”

The Weber County Sheriff’s Office has opened a criminal investigation into Rose’s conduct.

Investigators with the Tremonton Police Department forwarded the case due to Rose’s previous employment.

“A lot of times they will ask somebody else to investigate the case, just because they don’t want to be accused of being too severe, or too harsh, or too lenient,” said Chief Nealy Adams of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators so far are declining to specify whether they believe Rose was in fact fulfilling a “parental responsibility” on campus or simply violating sex offender restrictions.

“That is one of the parts of the investigation I can’t talk about,” Adams said. “It’s still an active investigation.”

Ultimately, it will be up to the Box Elder County Attorney’s Office whether to file criminal charges.

Parents declined to answer whether they would like to see Rose back in jail.

“I don’t think that’s for me to say. I think the law will handle that,” an anonymous mother said. “He did horrendous things, but he is also a parent, so I can see him trying to be a parent… I would like to see that background checks are done on volunteers so we don’t have this problem in the future.”

Rose said he has interviewed with investigators and left feeling confident that he will not be charged with a crime.

“I can’t say that I sit and worry about it, because I really feel like the right people are going to do the right things,” Rose said. “I relive my offense every day. It’s something I regret every day… I’m not that guy anymore, and I get, you know, it’s hard to prove that, but I’m not that guy any more.”

The Box Elder School District confirmed it is reviewing its policies and training procedures surrounding volunteers on campus.

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