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FOX 13 Investigates: Sex offender ex-cop at high school won’t be charged after ‘mediocre’ police investigation

Posted at 9:49 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 07:57:44-04

TREMONTON, Utah — Prosecutors have decided not to charge a convicted sex offender who spent days volunteering on a high school campus near Tremonton.

The investigation has prompted criticism from parents and multiple law enforcement experts, accusing both the Weber County Sheriff’s Office and Box Elder County Attorney’s Office of conducting an “incomplete” or “mediocre” review of the case.

According to records obtained by FOX 13, law enforcement agreed sex offender Jeremy Rose broke the law – although they made the decision not to charge Rose with a crime very early into the investigation.

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.

FOX 13 Investigates: Registered sex offender allowed on campus

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.

FOX 13 revealed his presence on the Bear River High School Campus in a special investigative report that aired in March.

In an interview with FOX 13, Rose said he was volunteering for his daughter’s school play.

Students said they wish they were notified of Rose’s status on the sex offender registry. There have not been any students who have publicly accused him of doing anything inappropriate while on campus.

Although the Tremonton Police Department received “multiple complaints,” they chose to hand over the criminal investigation to the Weber County Sheriff’s Office to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

The Weber County Sheriff’s Office and Box Elder County Attorney’s Office spent nearly 4.5 months investigating and reviewing the case.

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.”

"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."

The Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry confirmed Rose’s volunteer work for the school play does not qualify as a “parental responsibility,” according to the Weber County Sheriff’s Office report filed by Detective William Smith.

“Parental responsibilities at the school would be more in the realm of his daughter getting sick, in trouble, or there was some kind of emergency, and there was no one else available to pick her up,” Smith wrote.

Aside from checking with the registry, Smith only interviewed the suspect and “took no further action on this case.”

Per the report, police did not interview parents, complainants, or witnesses.

Investigators also made no effort to determine whether Rose was in contact in children.

Most importantly, investigators failed to fact-check Rose’s statements.

“It’s ridiculous,” one parent said. “A complete lapse in the system.”

According to Detective Smith’s report, Rose said he spoke with the Garland police chief to seek permission to volunteer on campus; “Jeremy felt from the conversation with the chief that he would be able to participate without any issues.”

In a phone call with FOX 13, Chief Chad Soffe stated he had never spoken to Rose.

“Jeremy (Rose) was obviously grasping for straws, trying to get away with, or out of trouble by making up excuses for his actions,” Soffe said. “I would never give a registered sex offender permission to be on the stage crew of a high school play, being around the same aged children that he victimized.”

During Rose’s interview with FOX 13 in March, he told a different story than the version of events he gave to police.

“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.”

During the March interview with FOX 13, Rose said he felt it was inappropriate for anyone else to decide what his “responsibility is as a parent.”

“Like I said, the law is pretty clear,” he said at one point.

“It’s really vague on how the law is written,” Rose said later. “I can’t say that I sit and worry about (the criminal investigation), because I really feel like the right people are going to do the right things.”

When FOX 13 reached out to Rose for clarification, he asserted his conversation with the Garland police chief was carefully documented.

“I remember the whole thing,” Rose said. “I had the conversation recorded, because I’m not an idiot!”

When asked if he could provide a copy of the recording, Rose became upset and hung up the phone.

“In (your) interview he said he did not ask anyone for permission to be on the high school campus,” Soffe said. “Now he is using my name to say that I gave him permission to be there. I think that he is using my name because I am no longer the Garland police chief.”

Soffe, who is now the chief of Woods Cross Police Department, confirmed he would have expected investigators to have contacted him to fact check.

Both the Weber County Sheriff’s Office and Box Elder County Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the discrepancy uncovered by FOX 13.

In an interview with Deputy Chief Adams in March, the department expressed possible interest in reviewing FOX 13’s interview with Rose.

“Don’t know (if it’s helpful) until you see it!” Adams laughed.

The agency’s report does not show any effort on behalf of investigators to review Rose’s interview with FOX 13 as part of its case.

On or around March 10, 2021 – prior to Detective Smith’s interview with Rose – Smith described a conversation he had with prosecutors, indicating there was no plan to charge Rose with a crime.

“I spoke with Blair Wardle at the Box Elder County Attorney’s Office,” Smith wrote, “and he advised me that at this time they were not looking to file charges but simply wanted Jeremy to understand that doing the volunteer work at the high school was not part of his parental responsibilities and could ultimately be charged with a violation if it continues.”

Box Elder County Attorney Stephen Hadfield has repeatedly refused to provide documentation outlining his office’s decision to not charge Rose, arguing the records should be concealed from the public because they were prepared “in anticipation of litigation.”

FOX 13 appealed the denial and has a case scheduled in front of the State Records Committee to litigate the matter.

“We can’t prove (Rose’s) state of mind,” Hadfield said. “The suspect did it upon what we felt was a good-faith belief that it was okay to be on campus.”

Chris Bertram, the former deputy chief of Unified Police Department, agreed to review the case as a neutral third-party expert.

He agreed FOX 13’s investigation into the matter appeared to be significantly more thorough than the law enforcement investigation.

“If that report is all that they did, that’s concerning,” Bertram said. “It’s definitely mediocre... It’s not fair to the public, and it’s not fair to that person that is the subject of the investigation.”

Bertram said he was especially concerned to find out investigators never fact checked Rose’s statements with the Garland police chief.

“That would just be the minimum, in my opinion, and that’s unfortunate,” Bertram said. “It leaves a cloud over the whole situation.”

It is also typical, Bertram said, for competent police agencies to review publicly available media interviews with suspects.

“It is the expectation of the public that they’re going to do everything that they need to do to make sure that it is a thorough investigation,” he said. “If he was less-than honest with one of those two interviews, law enforcement or you, then the question is why? … You absolutely need more information, because there’s simple investigative questions that can be asked.”

For more than a month, the Weber County Sheriff’s Office has ignored multiple requests for comment.

Since his first day on the job, Weber County Sheriff Ryan Arbon stated he wants to increase transparency within the department in order to improve public perception.

“We want to change our operations when it comes to accountability,” Arbon said in an interview with the Standard-Examiner in 2019.“We are going to discuss these issues no matter how big or small they are… we’re all going to be a lot more connected and have a lot better communication in this office.”

Sheriff Arbon has also ignored FOX 13’s requests for comment.

“I always find it disappointing when law enforcement doesn’t want to talk,” Bertram said. “As an investigator, you’re seeking the truth. Whether we like it or not, we’re seeking the truth.”

Bertram recommended anyone with concerns about the investigation to reach out to Hadfield or Arbon, who are both elected officials.

Law enforcement agencies in Utah do have the ability to reopen an investigation, if they see fit.

“The jurisdiction that you live in? You would hope, you would demand, you would expect that they’re doing the best possible job of conducting investigations,” Bertram said.

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