A Utah County sheriff’s deputy who shared a police report about a sexual assault with Brigham Young University appeared upset when he learned the school had dismissed the student who said she was raped, according to an internal investigation.
The deputy, Edwin Randolph, now 48, told investigators from the sheriff’s office that he was trying to help the student. The investigators appeared to believe him, though he had previously told a Provo detective her allegation was “bull crap” and repeatedly criticized her conduct, according to documents.
Utah’s police regulators later asserted he had lied to them and to sheriff’s investigators and sought to suspend him.
Utah County earlier this month released a new version of its internal affairs inquiry into Randolph, whose decision to give BYU a copy of a rape investigation spurred questions about how the campus treats sex assault victims.
The county last year provided The Salt Lake Tribune a heavily redacted version of an internal affairs report and, citing exemptions in the state’s public records law, declined to provide the full report. That led to a lawsuit in 4th District Court.
Utah County and the newspaper agreed to settle the case by allowing the county to redact only the names of the alleged rape victim and witnesses and details from the Provo Police Department’s rape investigation.
Much of the newly released portions of the report recount what has already been disclosed in other records. Randolph, who also had worked as a BYU assistant women’s track coach, was an acquaintance of Nasiru Seidu, now 41. Both men are from Ghana. In September 2015, a BYU student told Provo police that Seidu raped her. Last month, a Utah County jury acquitted Seidu of first-degree felony rape.
The student consented to be identified in previous Tribune articles about policies at BYU, but recently requested her name not be used in connection with coverage of the criminal case. The Tribune has a general policy of not identifying victims of sexual assault.
For giving the Provo police report to BYU, Randolph was charged with witness retaliation, a felony, on Feb. 19, 2016. But Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman asked a judge to dismiss the case five days later. Buhman has said he did so after reviewing the sheriff’s internal affairs investigation.
The new portions of the internal affairs report elaborate on what happened after Seidu was booked into the Utah County jail, where Randolph worked as a corrections officer. Someone associated with Seidu called Randolph and asked if he could check on Seidu.
Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said Randolph’s supervisor also asked him to speak to Seidu and ensure he understood the case against him. Tracy said it’s common for correction officers to have such conversations with inmates for whom English is not their first language.
In the jail, Randolph spoke to Seidu in Twi, a dialect common in Ghana. Randolph said he explained how the legal system worked and the seriousness of the situation.
“Deputy Randolph said that he told Nasiru he was ‘looking at’ some very serious charges and would ‘do time’ if he was found guilty,” the report says. “He said he also told Nasiru that it would be a good idea to get a good lawyer.”
Seidu was released from jail pending trial and Randolph met with him again. Randolph helped Seidu find an attorney.
The lawyer obtained a copy of the student’s report to Provo police. The attorney gave a copy to someone connected to Seidu — Utah County redacted the person’s name — and that person gave it to Randolph.
Randolph told investigators from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office he recognized the name of a football player in the report.
“Randolph said, at this point, he felt that this girl could be ‘preyed’ upon by the players and could be vulnerable,” investigators wrote in a newly released portion. “Deputy Randolph said, after he looked at the report, he felt like it was the right thing to do to go to BYU honor code. Deputy Randolph said he has seen several of the 19-20-year-old girls he has coached at BYU get ‘mess[ed] up’ with football players, get taken advantage of by them, dumped and then ‘going through all the emotions and stuff.’ ”
Randolph tried to meet with the staff who investigate violations of BYU’s Honor Code, which prohibits alcohol, drugs and premarital sex, includes a dress code, and sets rules for socializing between members of the opposite sex. Randolph was instead referred to the campus’ Title IX office, the report says.
That office investigates allegations of sexual misconduct and gender discrimination. Randolph arranged for the Title IX staff to receive a copy of the Provo police report.
Title IX staff later gave a copy to the Honor Code Office. The student has said BYU told her she would not be able to enroll in additional classes until she cooperated with an Honor Code investigation into her conduct.
Randolph told the sheriff’s investigators he thought the Honor Code Office would help the student. “It should be noted,” an investigator wrote, “that when he was told that the victim was dismissed from BYU, he was visibly upset and commented that is not what he wanted to see happen.”
Sheriff Tracy found that Randolph did not retaliate against a witness. Tracy did find that Randolph had an improper relationship with Seidu. Randolph received a two-day suspension.
The sanction might have been worse, but the investigators listed what they considered mitigating circumstances, including how Randolph did not use the county police database to obtain a copy of the rape report and how Randolph said he was trying to help the student.
But when the state’s police regulators, Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), reviewed what Randolph did, they found a discrepancy. POST said Randolph told BYU he was concerned about the student’s conduct, but Randolph told investigators from the sheriff’s office and POST he was worried about what the football player might be doing.
POST sent Randolph a notice dated Jan. 23 of this year accusing him of lying three times. Randolph opted to retire rather than contest the allegations.
Jeremy Jones, the attorney for Edwin Randolph, said in a recent interview that POST got it wrong, and the new details in the sheriff’s report show that.
“My understanding is Utah County determined that once Edwin had the opportunity to explain himself, they were not concerned by his honesty,” Jones said.
Jones declined to say whether his client is upset at how BYU treated the student.
The student told The Tribune on Nov. 20 that Randolph has never apologized to her. She declined further comment.
Tracy in an interview Monday said he agrees with POST’s allegations against Randolph, saying Randolph contradicted himself in his interview with the state investigators.
“I don’t think it was inappropriate,” the sheriff said of the POST charges. “POST gave him a chance to clarify his statements.”
In June of this year, BYU formally adopted an amnesty policy, generally shielding students who report sexual assaults from being investigated for Honor Code violations.
Update: Nov. 27, 2:47 p.m.: This article has been updated to include comments from Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy.