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James Young, Deseret News, File

Reports detail sex assault allegations against ex-Provo police chief

By Annie Knox  |  Posted Jun 1st, 2017 @ 9:48pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Newly released police records shed light on sexual assault allegations against Provo's former police chief that forced him to resign in March.

John King said he had consensual sex four times with a volunteer at his department, according to Unified police documents released Tuesday.

The woman reporting a series of assaults by King said otherwise in interviews with investigators. She had been working on a research project at the department and initially thought their relationship was only professional, according to the reports. The pair began working on a grant application and meeting socially.

King was never arrested or charged with any crime and could not be reached Thursday at a Maryland phone number believed to be his. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office declined to file charges in March, saying there was "insufficient" evidence of nonconsensual sex.

In a timeline he gave to investigators, King wrote that after an event in September — a few weeks after first meeting the woman — he received a hug from her that struck him "as more than just Utah friendliness."

The volunteer told detectives she believed she had set boundaries by reminding the chief that he was married and telling him she thought it wouldn't look good to be going to restaurants with him, according to investigative records.

The woman reported she became uneasy in October when the chief became "flirtatious and suggestive and this made her feel nervous," a report states, and she said he sexually assaulted her multiple times.

King said the pair had sex four times in January, according to his timeline.

The woman said she was scared of the chief and didn't know how to say no because he had a gun, according to the reports. She also told investigators she felt her research and her reputation were on the line.

After they went to a movie together in November, she said, she accepted a ride from him to what she thought would be a restaurant nearby. But he drove her to his house, undressed in front of her, groped and touched her inappropriately, trying to pull off her clothes even though she told him no, the reports state.

She said he sexually assaulted her at his home and at hers on different occasions in January. At one point, she got a call from him saying he was coming to her house, where he told her he knew "if he kept pushing her he would eventually get what he wanted," according to the reports.

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She told another person who gave a written statement to investigators via email, documents show, but it's not clear whom she confided in.

The Unified Police Department was asked to conduct the investigation after the woman first reported King's alleged actions to the Utah County Attorney's Office.

"(The woman) walked into the Utah County Attorney's Office and disclosed she was raped by the chief of police in Provo," a Unified police report dated Feb. 9 states.

The woman said she told Provo Mayor John Curtis "brief details" about what happened.

Curtis asked King to step down in March. The mayor and King at the time said the chief was leaving because of family issues and did not mention the sexual misconduct allegations. Later that week, news of the allegations surfaced.

Curtis said King's reputation was damaged but no policies or laws had been broken. He said he and King agreed it was in the best interest of the city that King resign.

Capt. Rich Ferguson became interim chief.

King took over the Provo Police Department in 2013 after more than 30 years in law enforcement, and previously was chief in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He is believed to have returned to Maryland.

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