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Utah funeral home director allegedly posed as 17-year-old to lure teens online

Published November 23, 2011 1:11 pm

Spencer Scott McDougal faces a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence if convicted.
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A director at a Taylorsville-based funeral home is accused of surreptitiously filming minors undressing, as well as posing as a 17-year-old online to lure juveniles into sending him nude photos of themselves.

Spencer Scott McDougal, 54, who is employed by McDougal Funeral Home, was charged in U.S. District Court this week with felony production of child pornography and enticement for illegal sexual activity.

McDougal adopted the persona of "James Zupo Marsden" on a fake Facebook profile and claimed he was a 17-year-old living in Idaho who had previously lived in West Jordan, according to a complaint that was unsealed Wednesday in federal court.

McDougal contacted a teenager through the website in January and forged a relationship with the alleged victim. The two communicated through Facebook and email, the complaint states.

After several months of communication, McDougal asked the victim to send nude photos to him. The victim, believing McDougal was a 17-year-old, took sexual photos with a cell phone and sent them to McDougal, the complaint states.

Meanwhile, a local church leader contacted the Department of Children and Family Services in May to report that an anonymous person had observed child pornography on McDougal's home computer. One of the videos showed a minor walking around a bedroom in a towel, the complaint states.

The Taylorsville Police Department began investigating the case and McDougal admitted during a June interview that he purchased a "nanny cam" that he hid in places where juveniles changed clothing or were naked, the complaint states.

McDougal transferred videos from the nanny cam to his computer, he said. Computer analysts at the FBI's Regional Computer Forensics Lab discovered "several videos and images of a minor in various stages of undress which appeared to have been taken by the nanny cam," the complaint states.

Investigators also discovered sexually explicit images of a 16-year-old girl on McDougal's computer. Several photos focused on the girl's genitalia, the complaint states.

Also during the course of the investigation, a computer seized from McDougal's private office at the funeral home provided evidence that McDougal had been operating a fake Facebook account and storing "several hundred" nude photos of minors on his cell phone and thumb drives, the complaint states.

The complaint states that three alleged victims were interviewed prior to McDougal's arrest, but investigators are continuing to examine whether other victims fell prey to McDougal's advances.

At a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Samuel Alba on Wednesday, McDougal was ordered to remain in custody as the court case against him proceeds. Prosecutors told Alba that McDougal is a danger to the community.

McDougal's arraignment is set for Dec. 2. He is being held in the Davis County jail in the custody of U.S. Marshals.

If convicted on federal charges, he faces a 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for the production of pornography charge alone, and addition time for the enticement charge.

mrogers@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mrogers_trib