As wave after wave of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct crash over Hollywood, the media and Washington, D.C. — and, locally, against Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves — it’s time to take a look at Utah’s track record over the past three decades of politicians caught up in sexual misdeeds or, in some cases, the misbehavior of associates.
Rob Miller, 2017
The longtime Democratic activist dropped out of the race for state party chairman after being accused of sexual harassment and misconduct by seven women.
Allegations from these prominent party insiders — including a former Salt Lake County Democratic chairwoman — included unwanted hugging, kissing, stroking hair, pulling down his pants to show his Mormon undergarments and using a supposed job interview to seek a date.
Miller denied any inappropriate behavior, blaming political opponents. He withdrew from the race and, he said, left the party after decades of activism.
Chris Burbank and Ralph Becker, 2015
Salt Lake City’s popular police chief was pressured to resign by Mayor Ralph Becker for mishandling substantiated sexual-harassment complaints brought by three women officers against a former deputy chief.
The alleged misdeeds by one-time Deputy Chief Rick Findlay included him sharing a nude photo he said was one of the women and a photo of the other two in bikinis. The officers said they were discouraged from complaining and retaliated against when they they did.
Burbank, who had placed Findlay on administrative leave but did not fire or demote him, alleged Becker was trying to make the chief a political scapegoat when the scandal exploded into public view in the middle of a mayoral election.
For months, Becker had previously remained silent about the harassment allegations, saying he was protecting the victims’ privacy until they went public with a lawsuit against the city.
The controversy was widely believed to play a role in Becker’s re-election loss a few months later.
Greg Peterson, 2012
The longtime Republican activist who hosted an annual conservative forum/barbecue that drew Utah’s GOP elite (Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, Reps. Mia Love, Chris Stewart and Jason Chaffetz and Attorney General Sean Reyes were all attendees) was charged with rape and kidnapping in the alleged attacks of five women. The 37-year-old committed suicide while out of jail on bond.
Kevin Garn, 2010
The Republican majority leader took to the floor of the Utah House on the final night of the annual legislative session to confess to a 25-year-old nude hot-tubbing outing with a then-15-year-old employee. His admission to assembled colleagues came as The Salt Lake Tribune was about to publish a story about the incident and his payment of $150,000 to the woman, who threatened to go public with the past relationship during Garn’s failed 2002 congressional campaign.
The veteran lawmaker resigned from office two days later.
But the House’s standing ovation for Garn that night, led by then-House Speaker Dave Clark, also contributed to Clark’s ouster as speaker a few months later.
Instead Becky Lockhart, who walked off the floor in disgust during the Garn applause, was elected the state’s first woman House speaker. She died of a rare brain disease at age 46 after serving two terms.
Ozwald Balfour, 2005
The GOP activist, founder of the Utah Republican Black Assembly and a talk-radio host, was arrested and accused of groping three women during job interviews for his Salt Lake City media production company. Nearly six years later and after repeatedly denying the allegations, Balfour pleaded no contest to three counts of sexual battery, reduced from original felony charges. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to undergo a psychosexual evaluation on the trio of class A misdemeanors.
Kay and Katherine Bryson, 2004
A contentious divorce between two prominent elected Republican leaders from Utah County turned into scandal — with allegations of infidelity and invasion of privacy through government surveillance — leading to a civil suit and criminal investigation, but ultimately, no criminal charges.
Kay Bryson, the elected Utah County attorney, suspected his wife, state Rep. Katherine Bryson, of adultery and set up surveillance equipment borrowed from the county sheriff and installed by a county employee at her Salt Lake City condo.
The lawmaker complained to Salt Lake City police, who investigated but concluded there was “not sufficient basis” to file charges. The decision was reviewed and upheld by the Salt Lake County district attorney, partly based on the grounds that the condo was being rented by the Brysons’ son, who consented to the covert taping.
Katherine Bryson retired from her House seat that year. Kay Bryson stood for re-election in 2006, but lost to current County Attorney Jeff Buhman.
Charles Warren, 1997
The chief of staff to then-Congressman Chris Cannon, R-Utah, resigned after acknowledging an improper sexual relationship with another congressional staffer, a subordinate who alleged he coerced her into an unwanted affair.
The woman sued the congressional office, the Cannon campaign and Cannon’s private company — all entities in which the two had worked. That suit was later resolved with a confidential settlement agreement.
The issue was reignited when Cannon, one of the House Judiciary Committee members who recommended the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, told The Tribune that neither he nor taxpayers paid any money in the settlement and denied any impropriety or ‘hostile environment’ in his office.
The woman’s subsequent lawsuit for defamation and breach of contract dragged on in court for nearly a decade — most of the congressman’s tenure — and Cannon ended up paying $22,000 in settlement and legal fees.
Warren continued to work in politics, although generally behind the scenes.
Ted Cannon, 1986
The elected Salt Lake County attorney, an anti-pornography-crusading Republican, was indicted and ended up pleading no contest to two misdemeanor assault charges, reduced from felony sexual assault, and three other misdemeanors. He spent 25 days in jail and stepped down a few months shy of finishing his second term.
Cannon also was sued for sexual harassment by two former secretaries, who alleged he made sexually oriented remarks and attempted to grope them, later disciplining or demoting them when they complained.
He settled one case and a jury found him liable in the second after a trial in which a deputy county attorney told jurors that the victim contributed to the atmosphere in the office by wearing provocative clothing and telling off-color jokes.
Federal Judge J. Thomas Greene set aside the jury verdict and entered a “no cause of action” ruling.
Cannon later sued one of the secretaries for libel for a magazine article titled “My boss ordered me to sleep with him.” A few months later he dropped the suit.
He died in 2009 at age 77.