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Registered sex offender charged in Salt Lake sex assault, shooting investigation

A registered sex offender with a long and violent criminal history in Utah has been charged in connection with a 2021 sexual assault of a woman and the shooting of her friend who tried to help, according to prosecutors.

A registered sex offender with a long and violent criminal history in Utah has been charged in connection with a 2021 sexual assault of a woman and the shooting of her friend who tried to help, according to prosecutors. (Spaxiax, Shutterstock)


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SALT LAKE CITY — A registered sex offender currently in federal custody is facing new charges after allegedly sexually assaulting a woman at gunpoint whom he offered to give a ride home, and then shooting her friend who tried to help her.

Jeremy Mitchell Hanks, 48, was charged Tuesday in 3rd District Court with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, forcible sodomy and discharging a firearm causing serious injury, all first-degree felonies; and possession of a gun by a restricted person, a second-degree felony.

On Dec. 11, 2021, a woman was leaving a Salt Lake City bar in the early morning hours and walking to a TRAX station when Hanks drove up in his van and offered the woman a ride home, according to charging documents. According to prosecutors, Hanks "preyed" on the victim, who was in a "vulnerable mindset and cold" and thought Hanks was being nice, the charges state.

However, Hanks drove the woman to an industrial area and assaulted her, including pistol-whipping her, and then sexually assaulted the woman while holding a gun to her head, according to the charges.

After the assault, the woman was able to get her phone and message a friend for help. The friend found Hanks' van in the area of 4800 West and 700 South, knocked on the window and told the woman to get out before confronting Hanks. Hanks responded by shooting the man in the hip, the charges state. The man was still able to drive himself and the woman to a local hospital where he underwent surgery to remove the bullet, according to the charges.

Salt Lake police later found the van in the same location and processed it for DNA and other evidence. On March 21, police identified Hanks as a suspect, using DNA collected from the scene and running it through a national database.

According to court records, Hanks' long criminal history includes a conviction of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated assault in 4th District Court in 1993. He was also sentenced at that time for robbing a jewelry store in Orem. Those sentences came after he made headlines for escaping from the Utah County Jail.

He was sentenced to the Utah State Prison and paroled in 2010. He has since been in and out of prison on parole violations several times, prison records state.

Hanks was convicted in federal court of sexual exploitation of a minor and for possessing child pornography in 2012 and sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by 20 years of supervised released, according to court documents. In June, however, his sentence was amended and he was ordered to serve six more months in federal prison, court records state. Hanks is currently incarcerated at the Utah State Prison.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.

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