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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Special Fiduciary Bruce Wisan speaks during a community meeting regarding the United Effort Plan (UEP) trust Nov. 30, 2012, in Colorado City, Ariz.
Polygamous trust fiduciary a witness in prostitution case
Courts » Bruce Wisan has missed court dates, causing trial postponement, prosecutor says.
First Published Jul 30 2014 11:00 pm • Last Updated Aug 11 2014 10:17 am

Police in Taylorsville found the man in charge of a state-run polygamous trust in a motel room with a suspected prostitute last year, newly obtained police and court documents show, and prosecutors say he has since failed to appear as a subpoenaed witness at the woman’s trial.

Bruce Wisan, the fiduciary of the United Effort Plan, has not been charged with any crimes. And an attorney representing him, Catherine Cleveland, said in a message relayed through her law offices that Wisan was never involved in any criminal activity.

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The 26-year-old woman has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor prostitution charge stemming from what police say happened in that motel room.

Taylorsville acting City Attorney Tracy Scott Cowdell said the woman appeared for a bench trial on June 11, but the trial was canceled because Wisan did not appear to testify.

Wisan, 68, also was absent July 18 for another bench trial. That time, the woman did not appear either. Taylorsville Justice Court Judge Marsha Thomas issued a $2,000 warrant for her arrest. Court and jail records indicate she remained at large on Wednesday.

Wisan did not respond to a request for comment. Cleveland on Wednesday said Wisan had good reason for twice not arriving to testify.

The first time, Wisan was out of town, Cleveland said. The second time, she said, Wisan was at the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City testifying in a hearing concerning the UEP.

While Wisan was in court in Salt Lake City, Cleveland appeared at the court in Taylorsville on Wisan’s behalf and explained the absence, according to an audio recording of the July 18 hearing.

Cowdell said the woman could have been tried in absentia if Wisan had appeared on July 18. Cowdell, who also is on the Canyons School District Board, said he is prepared to force Wisan to appear in court and explain his absences.

Court rules require that subpoenaed witnesses file motions explaining why they cannot appear, Cowdell said.

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Cowdell said he could not discuss details of the evidence because there is an "active, ongoing investigation."

According to a report by the Unified Police Department, an officer on March 20, 2013, responded to a motel on Redwood Road to investigate an assault complaint. UPD Lt. Justin Hoyal said it was believed the combatants were a man identified in police reports as the prostitution suspect’s "manager" and another man. There is no indication Wisan was involved in or witnessed the assault, Hoyal said.

To investigate the assault, an officer knocked on the woman’s motel room door. The police report says the woman opened the door and agreed to let the officer inside the room. Wisan was inside the room, according to the report.

The officer questioned Wisan and the woman. Wisan, according to the officer’s report, said he was helping the woman "financially until she got back onto her feet."

The officer asked if Wisan had any sexual contact with the woman.

"Bruce stated he had not and that he was only helping her with money," the officer wrote.

The officer returned to questioning the woman, who said Wisan "was just a friend helping her out financially."

The woman at first denied she and Wisan had sex, but then admitted she and Wisan had engaged in sexual activity, according to the officer’s report.

When the officer told Wisan what the woman said about sex, "Bruce was hesitant to talk anymore at this time," the officer wrote.

The officers found no money had been exchanged and released Wisan, according to the report.

Cowdell, speaking generally, said prosecutors do not necessarily have to show that a fee transaction occurred in order to prove prostitution, only that an agreement was reached to trade for sex.

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