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Sex abuse alleged at Spanish Fork youth home

Published November 14, 2013 8:03 am

Crime • Prosecutors file felony charges against the man.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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 youth home employee in Spanish Fork is accused of performing sex acts on two 14-year-old girls who were in custody — despite previous warnings against unsupervised contact with the young residents.

In charges filed Wednesday in 4th District Court, prosecutors alleged that a girl living at the youth center Extended Family Services was just four days into her stay there when she told her caseworker that employee Wade Russell, 59, had touched her inappropriately.

The girl, identified in charges only as "V1" said that on Nov. 3, her third night at EFS, Russell went into her room, lay down next to her bed and fondled her over her clothing. She said she knew of another girl who also had been abused.

Security camera footage from that time shows Russell's feet "sticking out of the doorway as if he is lying down," court documents claim. The girl's roommate confirmed that Russell was lying close to the victim, prosecutors say.

The other victim, "V2," said Russell sexually abused her on multiple occasions after she arrived at EFS in June. She said that on Nov. 2, Russell asked her to join him in the laundry room because he could turn off the lights and escape the security cameras. Video from outside the laundry room allegedly shows Russell entering the laundry room and turning off the lights before the girl followed him inside.

She claimed that Russell molested her then, and later the same day in her room.

The second victim said Russell also used his cell phone to show her pornography.

A job evaluation for Russell by EFS in August shows he was told not to have "any contact with female residents alone or out of the view of the camera," and that he was told to stop "hugging the young girls," according to charges.

Charging documents do not indicate why those instructions were given.

Russell denied to police touching either of the girls sexually and said the events recorded on camera amounted only to poor judgment on his part. When asked for his cell phone to search its browser history, he said he lost the phone, police reported.

The owners of EFS were not available for comment on Thursday.

Russell was charged with two first-degree felony counts of forcible sodomy, six second-degree felony counts of forcible sexual abuse and third-degree felony dealing in materials harmful to a minor.

He was scheduled for his first appearance on Thursday before 4th District Judge James Taylor.

ealberty@sltrib.com