Investigative records: Ex-Provo police chief admitted to sexual relationship — but she says it wasn’t consensual

No charges • John King resigned in March after woman made allegation.

Former Provo Police Chief John King admitted to investigators that four times in January, he had sex with a woman who was volunteering with his police department.

That woman, however, told investigators that the sexual contact never was consensual. She described how Provo's top cop made suggestive comments, pulled at her clothing and forced himself on her. She worried that her work with the Police Department — and her reputation — was on the line, according to a recently released Unified Police Department report.

"She was scared of him," a detective wrote, "and didn't know how to say no and knew he had a gun and didn't know how he would react to her saying no to him."

Ultimately, the Unified police investigation ended with prosecutors declining to file charges against the chief, who resigned from his position in mid-March.

City officials initially said King, who had been with the Provo department for three years, had stepped down to move out of state to care for his ailing mother. But Provo Mayor John Curtis later revealed that the resignation was due to the sexual-assault complaint. Though no charges were filed, the mayor said he did not feel he could let King remain as chief because of issues with public trust.

As the news of allegations came to light, government officials remained tight-lipped about specifics. But on Wednesday, the Unified Police Department — which investigated the case so Utah County authorities could avoid a conflict of interest — released their investigative records after The Salt Lake Tribune appealed a records request denial.

King and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

The report details how King met the woman when she began volunteering and working on a project with the Police Department. Their relationship was at first professional, according to the report, with King communicating with the woman primarily about her work with the department. But the woman later told investigators that the chief's subsequent "flirtatious and suggestive" comments made her feel nervous.

She set boundaries, she told investigators, by telling King that "he was married and she wasn't and thought how would this look for [her] to be out to dinner and lunch with him alone." She wanted to keep the relationship professional, she said.

But one night after a police advisory meeting, they went to dinner and the woman said King asked her to come back to his home to watch a movie. She agreed.

There, she told police, he began kissing and groping her — despite her repeated protests.

On a later occasion, a similar situation unfolded: After a police-related meeting, King asked her to dinner and then to his home to watch a movie. The woman told investigators that there, he had sex with her, though she told him she "didn't want to do this" and tried to keep her clothing on. He overpowered her, she reported to police, by pushing his body against hers while removing her clothes.

The woman said King had sex with her several more times after that at his home and her apartment, but she said it was never a consensual act.

Before one alleged assault at her residence, the woman said King called her and said he was coming over. She didn't want him to, she said, but she told King it was OK. Once in her home, the woman said King pulled her into her bedroom, took off her clothing and had sex with her.

"[She] said he told her the reason he wanted to do it at her house was he wanted her to remember him every time she went to bed," a detective wrote in the report, "and also said he knew if he kept pushing her he would eventually get what he wanted."

King was not interviewed by Unified police, according to the investigative reports, but he did provide them with a detailed timeline of the relationship, including a number of texts the two exchanged and the dates they had sex.

King wrote that when he first met the woman at an event, she was very kind to him and his mother, and she hugged him before she left.

"Her behavior struck me as more than just Utah friendliness," King wrote.

After Unified detectives completed their investigation, which included gathering physical evidence from the woman and speaking with friends whom she had told about the alleged assault, they took their case to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.

Chief Deputy Blake Nakamura declined to file charges because of "evidence problems," according to the police report.

"When we looked at the totality of the information presented to us, we didn't feel we could make a case this was done without consent," Nakamura told The Tribune on Thursday, declining to discuss specific details because charges weren't filed.

"We had a variety of information," he added. "Some of it electronic, some of it spoken, but when we looked at all of the information, that was the issue we were confronted with — we weren't confident we could meet all the elements of a sexual assault."

The woman's attorney, Bethany Warr, said Thursday that they plan to ask the district attorney's office to reconsider prosecuting the case.

"We think it warrants prosecution," Warr said. "It did happen, there was an assault. And we understand that the prosecution has a really high burden ... [but] we feel this is a strong case that could end in a conviction."

The Tribune generally does not identify victims of sexual assault, and the woman's name, as well as many other identifying details, were redacted from the released records.

After the Unified police investigation, King also faced an investigation by Utah's police regulators, the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), which can discipline and revoke licenses of the state's law enforcement officers. The result of that investigation isn't known; The Tribune has requested the investigative report.

Before King was hired as Provo's police chief in late 2013, he had worked as director of the police academy at Hagerstown Community College in Maryland.

Prior to that, King was a rare outside hire at the Baltimore Police Department in late 2011, where he took over the department's controversy-plagued education and training division, according to the Baltimore Sun. But just six months later, he abruptly resigned and was escorted from his office, the newspaper reported. King said at the time that the acting Baltimore police commissioner wanted to "go in a different direction."

Before Baltimore, King served as police chief for the city of Gaithersburg, Md., from 2007 to 2010. He "abruptly quit" that position, following a closed-session city council meeting, according to The Town Courier, Gaithersburg's newspaper.

The Tribune requested records detailing King's departure from the two police departments, but was denied, as Maryland's public records law protects the public release of personnel or employment records.

King spent the majority of his career working up through the ranks of the Montgomery County Police in Maryland, eventually rising to assistant chief before taking the Gaithersburg position.

Over his career, King picked up several high-profile assignments and accolades. He helped investigate the D.C. sniper, served abroad as an instructor for the U.S. Department of State's Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, and testified before Congress.

But King also gained notoriety when, in 2008 and 2009, he faced an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office for abuse of Montgomery County's disability retirement pension program, according to reports. He was ultimately cleared of the allegations.

King, 58, moved back to Maryland following his departure from Utah, records show.

The Provo mayor said in March that he expects it to take several months for a new chief to be appointed. He named Capt. Rich Ferguson as chief in the interim.



| Courtesy Former Provo Police Chief John King

| Courtesy Provo Mayor John Curtis.