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Provo police officer arrested on sex charges



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NEPHI -- A Provo police officer has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman at the scene of a traffic accident. Investigators say he was on duty at the time.

Jeffery Westerman, 33, was arrested and booked into the Juab County jail Tuesday night. A judge set his bail Wednesday morning at $10,000 bond or $1,000 cash.

Investigators with the Utah County Sheriff's Office, who handled the case as an outside department, say that on July 22, Westerman responded to a car accident along 300 South in Provo.

A 29-year-old woman failed field sobriety tests, and investigators say Westerman then threatened to arrest her if she would not provide sexual favors. The woman reported the incident the next day.

"He used his position to ask for sexual favors in exchange for not arresting her on criminal charges. She was to the point she felt trapped and finally gave in to his demands," said Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon.

Surveillance video from a nearby business substantiated the woman's claims.

Provo city officials say Westerman was terminated from the department on July 27 after a brief investigation.

"We did an internal investigation, and we learned enough that gave us reason to terminate him; and he was terminated last Tuesday," said Provo City spokeswoman Helen Anderson.

Westerman was booked into jail on second-degree felony charges of forcible sexual abuse. He was also booked on third-degree felony charges of obstruction of justice -- those charges involve false statements Westerman allegedly made to investigators.

Prosecutors are now reviewing evidence in the case for possible charges against the former officer. They call his arrest very serious, and one that will be aggressively prosecuted.

"Anyone who abuses that power and discretion, it's something we take very seriously because we don't want the public to be concerned about police officers when they get pulled over," said Deputy Utah County Attorney Craig Johnson.

Westerman posted bail Wednesday afternoon and is scheduled to be in court for his initial appearance next week, when formal charges are expected to be filed.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com

Sam Penrod

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