SALT LAKE CITY — Additional charges have been filed against a former Wasatch County jailer accused of sexually assaulting a female inmate.
Christopher Stein Epperson is now facing a total of five counts of deprivation of rights under color of law in connection with alleged incidents in December 2009 and January 2010. An indictment was filed in the case Thursday.
Epperson was initially facing three charges and had entered not guilty pleas to all three counts. The Heber City man was a Wasatch County deputy sheriff assigned as a jail guard when the alleged incidents occurred. The color of law charge reflects that position of authority.
Three of the counts in the new indictment accuse Epperson of "depriving the victim of civil rights protections under the Constitution and laws of the United States" by sexually assaulting the woman, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. Two of the counts relate to the assault itself.
Federal prosecutors allege two of the incidents involved aggravated circumstances, which means Epperson could face up to life in prison if convicted.
The alleged victim, Julie Hoggan, filed a civil lawsuit against Epperson, Wasatch County and the sheriff's office in federal court in December 2010. Hoggan was incarcerated from September 2009 to April 2010 on prescription drug fraud charges.
Her suit contends Epperson began making inappropriate comments to her in November 2009. In December of that year, he ordered her to bare her breasts so he could photograph them, according to the lawsuit, and also showed her photos of his genitalia.
Hoggan alleges Epperson backed her into a corner where he groped her and forced her to fondle him. On one occasion, the suit claims, he attempted to forcibly sodomize her.
Epperson denied the allegations in a response to the lawsuit.
The suit also contends other guards saw or knew about the alleged incidents, and that the county and the sheriff's office failed to adequately train and supervise its officers in the jail.
An arraignment hearing on Epperson's new charges has been scheduled for Feb. 9.
Email: Emiley Morgan