A former employee at a Salt Lake City center that offers therapy to LGBTQ youth has been charged with sexually exploiting a minor after police say he shared child pornography on social media.
Tyler Neal Domgaard, 28, was arrested late last month and now faces three felony counts for the alleged exploitation. At the time when he viewed and posted the pictures, court documents say, he was working “at a mental health therapy provider which treats juveniles and family members.”
According to his online accounts, Domgaard had a job at Encircle, a nonprofit group that helps LGBTQ youth find community. He was previously listed on the group’s website as a program manager at the John Williams Encircle Home in Salt Lake City, according to an archived version of the staff page. The site describes that position as running the day-to-day operations of the home.
His profile, though, has since been removed, as have photos of Domgaard marching with Encircle’s staff at the Freedom Festival Parade in Provo when he was a volunteer in 2018.
Encircle responded to the allegations with a statement Wednesday, confirming that Domgaard worked for the organization from February 2019 until last month, with his final day on Aug. 24 — when he was arrested.
“The alleged actions stand in stark contrast to Encircle’s mission, which is to bring families and communities together to help LGBTQ+ youth thrive,” the group wrote. “We have a zero-tolerance policy for improper conduct or crimes of any kind and immediately terminated Mr. Domgaard’s employment upon our learning of his arrest for the alleged conduct.”
Encircle said, too, that it has safety procedures in place at its houses and performs background checks on all personnel. It will be “conducting a thorough review” of those policies, and said it is “committed to making improvements where appropriate.”
Domgaard did not return calls for comment.
The LGBTQ center began operations in Provo in 2016 before opening its second home in Salt Lake City in February 2019. Encircle focuses on providing therapy to LGBTQ teenagers and young adults and starting dialogues about orientation and identity with faith communities, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The charging documents do not allege that the exploitation with Domgaard involved any clients at Encircle. But according to a probable cause statement, he did post the pictures to a Twitter account, which he logged into while at work there in August 2019.
Police say they first went to Encircle to try to contact Domgaard in May after receiving a report about five posts of explicit pictures from an account tied to his address. Domgaard wasn’t there at the time, but he later called the officers back and acknowledged that he had the images and that his Twitter profile was suspended because of his activity. He said he got them from other Twitter users. He was charged shortly after.
He made an initial appearance in court on Aug. 31 and has been ordered not to have any contact with minors or use the internet.
The Utah attorney general’s office additionally identified Domgaard’s case Wednesday in a tweet as one that’s part of “a surge in file sharing of child sexual abuse imagery, with an increase of almost 50% more than last year.”