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UHP trooper charged with multiple child sex abuse counts

Published January 4, 2013 10:59 am

Courts • Girl told investigators Bruce Turner molested her from age 6 to 14.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper based in Sevier County has been arrested and jailed on allegations he had sexually abused a young female relative over the past eight years.

Trooper Bruce Turner, of Salina, was being held in lieu of $270,000 cash bail Friday in the Sevier County Jail.

Prosecutors on Wednesday filed 13 first-degree felony counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child — as well as one count each of first-degree felony sodomy upon a child and second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse — against the 47-year-old UHP veteran in 6th District Court.

Spokesman Dwayne Baird confirmed that the UHP had been notified by the Sevier County Sheriff's Office of the arrest on Dec. 31. Turner was taken into custody in Richfield, at the same law enforcement complex shared by UHP and the sheriff's department.

"Turner was immediately placed on administrative leave. The Highway Patrol will perform an internal review of Trooper Turner's off-duty conduct," Baird said in a statement, referring all further inquiries to Sevier County sheriff's investigators.

Sheriff Nathan Curtis said his deputies were well acquainted with Turner and other troopers assigned to the central Utah region. "You always hate to see something like this," the sheriff said. "But we have a responsibility to protect the public's safety, and that girl, too."

He said Turner was off-duty and responding to a request to come to the UHP/Sevier Sheriff's Office complex when he was arrested.

In a probable-cause statement accompanying the charges against Turner, sheriff's Detective Sgt. Alan Pearson wrote that on Dec. 30, he, another officer and a child welfare worker interviewed the girl at a Sevier County residence. The girl, now 14, told Pearson that Turner had been sexually abusing her since age 6, when he put his hand under her clothing and touched her genitalia.

Similar contact purportedly occurred "on a weekly basis" between 2004 and 2007 at locations in Salina.

The alleged abuse halted in early 2010 but resumed in early 2012, according to charging documents.

Turner made his initial court appearance on Thursday. He is scheduled to return Jan. 15 for a status hearing before Judge Marvin Bagley.

remims@sltrib.com