Saratoga Springs officials covered up officer’s sexual assault of woman, lawsuit alleges

The woman was repeatedly harassed, stalked, threatened and intimidated after the alleged assaults, according to the complaint.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Chantelle Jones listens as her attorney Robert Sykes talks about a new federal lawsuit filed Monday that accuses the Saratoga Springs police chief, assistant police chief and city manager of dismissing Jones' complaints and requests for help after an officer sexually assaulted her in 2019, effectively covering up the alleged attacks, on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.

The Saratoga Springs police chief, assistant police chief and city manager dismissed a woman’s complaints and requests for help after an officer sexually assaulted her in 2019, effectively covering up the alleged attacks, a new federal lawsuit contends.

Saratoga Springs officer Kevin Norris, who resigned in 2022, sexually assaulted the woman twice in 2019, then repeatedly harassed, stalked, threatened and intimidated her, the complaint filed Monday alleges.

When the woman reported Norris’ alleged assault and misconduct to Assistant Police Chief William Robertson, who is also named as a defendant, he dismissed her, telling her that “boys will be boys,” the complaint states, and threatening that he would “create trouble” for her if she “mentioned the inappropriate conduct to anyone.”

Over the course of about two years after the alleged assaults, Robertson wanted to “run [the woman] out of the city,” the complaint accuses, arguing that led to an improper police search of her home “based on exaggerated or false claims,” as well as officers “following her on errands, parking by or near her home” and other “improper law enforcement behavior.”

Norris also is accused of conducting two illegal traffic stops of the woman after the alleged assaults “without reasonable articulable suspicion for the sole purpose of finding out what [she] was saying about him and threatening to keep her quiet,” the complaint states.

The complaint alleges that Saratoga Springs Police Chief Andrew Burton and City Manager Mark Christensen, who are also listed as defendants, were regularly updated on the case and states that Christensen “supported Robertson’s efforts to run [the woman] out of the city.”

“The abuse of power demonstrated by Robertson, Burton and Christensen shocks the conscience and is abhorrent to reasonable people as well as reasonable officers of the law,” the complaint argues.

When one Sarasota Springs detective reported his suspicion about Norris sexually assaulting the woman, Robertson threatened him with the loss of his job, the complaint alleges. When the same detective then filed a formal complaint, Robertson “ordered the detective to be suspended and, later, fired,” the lawsuit states.

The city of Saratoga Springs, which supervises the Saratoga Springs Police Department, also is named as a defendant in the complaint. On Tuesday, the city declined to comment on the complaint, noting that the city had not yet been served with the lawsuit.

“I don’t want anyone to ever experience what our family has gone through,” the plaintiff, Chantelle Jones, said during a news conference Tuesday with her attorney, Robert Sykes, by her side. “Our entire life basically was destroyed because of Saratoga Springs.”

It remained unclear if Norris had been served with the lawsuit as of early Tuesday. Court records did not indicate whether he had acquired legal representation.

The alleged assaults

According to the complaint, the alleged abuse and misconduct began after Jones and her husband, along with their two children, began to experience “random acts of intimidation and threats” in January 2019.

The family didn’t have any idea who was behind the attacks, the complaint states. The acts progressed from notes to vandalism and destruction of property.

Norris was assigned to investigate the case. On multiple occasions, Norris told the woman that Saratoga Springs police did not believe her story and that the department was considering pursuing criminal charges against her, stating that that he was her family’s “only advocate,” the complaint states.

“Norris’ actions were a planned effort to manipulate [the woman] into believing that he was the only person who could protect her,” the complaint alleges.

In April and May 2019, Norris began meeting with the woman for drives in his personal truck to discuss the case with her, the complaint states. On one of these drives, he attempted to kiss her, the complaint alleges, stopping only after the woman said his conduct was inappropriate.

About a month later, the woman was driving when she was forced off the road by another vehicle, resulting in a crash that left her with a broken nose and two black eyes, the complaint states.

Officers responded to her home later that day, where she was alone with her daughter because her husband was on a trip to visit family, she said, according to the complaint. As officers wrapped up their crash investigation, Norris handed the woman a note asking her to send him an email the next day, asking him to come back to the house for additional follow-up on the case, the complaint alleges.

Believing that Norris had additional information on the case, she sent the requested email, the complaint states. While on duty, Norris then arrived at her home wearing plain clothes, where he told her that the department was “becoming very serious” about pursuing criminal charges against her, the complaint alleges. The woman began to cry.

That’s when Norris hugged the woman, the complaint alleges, “and would not let go” even though the woman tried to stop him. He then forced himself on her and sexually assaulted her while her daughter was downstairs, the complaint alleges.

Norris later apologized for his actions, the complaint states, and a few days after the alleged assault, asked her to go on a drive. She agreed, “once again believing that he wanted to discuss the SSPD investigation,” the complaint states.

He arrived in uniform, driving a police vehicle, in which he soon sexually assaulted the woman again, the complaint alleges.

Afterward, the complaint states that Norris told her that if she ever reported the alleged attacks, he would not protect her from the potential criminal charges.

When Jones later went to Robertson, the assistant police chief, in August 2019 and reported that an officer had acted inappropriately with her, Robertson told her to “ignore those things,” the complaint alleges.

‘Nobody will ever believe you’

The next month, the woman experienced a medical emergency while driving. Norris was first on the scene, the complaint states, and took possession of her car for about five hours, during which the complaint alleges that Norris “took notebooks and a camera from the car which he knew contained evidence of his interactions” with the woman regarding her case.

Several days later, a search warrant was served at the woman’s home in an apparent effort to “locate and identify incriminating evidence proving that [the woman] had made up or created the threats, vandalism and personal attacks which she was requesting the SSPD to investigate.”

Robertson personally participated in the search, the complaint states, alleging that he called her a liar during the search and told her she would go to prison “for a long time.”

When the woman began to cry, Robertson allegedly told her, “If you are going to get all sad, I can give you some rope and point you to the nearest tree.”

She argued that one of his officers had “attacked her sexually,” the complaint states. Robertson called her a “lying b----” in response and said “nobody will ever believe you,” the complaint alleges.

Along with other alleged threats and intimidation outlined in the complaint, the filing also states that Norris in February 2020 “threatened to kill her if she ever said anything about the sexual assault.”

In October and November 2020, the complaint also alleges that Robertson instructed a detective to prepare criminal charges against the woman. The detective did not agree with attempting to charge her, the complaint states, but “because Robertson was his supervisor and had ordered him to do it,” the detective presented 20 misdemeanor counts and two felony counts against the woman to the Utah County district attorney’s office, the complaint states.

The complaint did not specify her alleged crimes. The district attorney’s office declined to prosecute the case, the complaint states.

“First of all, I’m a very confident person,” Jones said during the Tuesday news conference at her attorney’s office. “And I have very strong belief system. And I never thought it would be put in that position.”

“So it felt horrible; I’ve never felt like that before,” she said of the ordeal. “It was a very, very scary position to be in.”

Norris ultimately resigned from the Saratoga Springs Police Department in March 2022, about a year after the complaint alleges he “improperly and without authorization” accessed Utah Bureau of Criminal Investigation information to conduct “research on [the woman’s] family, her relatives, and others.” The discovery of the improper searches apparently prompted his resignation, the complaint states.

In June 2022, the woman and her family moved to Bluffdale because of the alleged harassment. But Bluffdale’s law enforcement is contracted out to Saratoga Springs police, the complaint states, alleging that “SSPD has continued its policy of harassment and intimidation against [the woman] by tailing her while she and her family are on errands, by stopping at or near her house, and by driving by her house.”

The complaint filed Monday accuses the defendants of violating the woman’s civil rights and accuses Robertson, Burton and Christensen of executive abuse of power. It asks for punitive damages.

The complaint also alleges that Norris has a history of predatory behavior and that he had been accused of “similar practices” at other Utah police departments where he was previously employed, arguing that the Saratoga Springs Police Department was “fully aware” about prior accusations against Norris and “knew or should have known not to employ him.”