Payson man, 75, charged with sexually abusing young girls in Fruit Heights

A 75-year-old Payson man was charged Tuesday with sexually abusing multiple neighbor girls when he was living in Fruit Heights from 1977 to 1989.

A 75-year-old Payson man was charged Tuesday with sexually abusing multiple neighbor girls when he was living in Fruit Heights from 1977 to 1989. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

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FARMINGTON – A 75-year-old Payson man was arrested Monday and accused of sexually abusing several young neighborhood girls from 1977 to 1989 when he lived in Fruit Heights.

"It has been 40 years that some of these victims have sought justice and we're happy to tell these victims that Alan Bassett is off the streets," said Davis County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Taylor West.

Alan Brower Bassett lives in a senior residential community in Payson and was sitting at his kitchen table when he was confronted about the allegations and told police, "If they said I did it, I did it. Why would they lie?" according to a police booking affidavit.

He was charged in 2nd District Court on Tuesday with nine counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a second-degree felony.

Several alleged victims were interviewed, but only the abuse testimony from five victims could be used to charge Bassett, due to statutory limitations, the affidavit states.

Bassett "had unlimited access to young female children throughout this time frame," but was "unable to give me a total number of all victims he sexually abused," the sheriff's detective reported in the affidavit.

"Detectives with our office put in hundreds of hours in identifying, locating and interviewing victims," said West, after receiving the first report in August 2020. The incidents all took place between when Bassett moved his family into a new Fruit Heights neighborhood in 1977 until he moved in 1998, according to the arrest report.

The allegations, broken down into eight distinct offenses, detail the man sexually assaulting the friends of his children when they came over for sleepovers, visits or hikes when they were between 5 and 10 years old. In one instance told to police, Bassett was inappropriately touching a young girl when a helicopter flew over his house.

Bassett "stopped the touching and ran out of the room distressed, believing the police were coming for him," the affidavit says. The helicopter was actually a medical helicopter responding to a neighbor, and that neighbor was able to confirm "the exact time frame" of the incident.

A civil lawsuit filed in 2019 against Bassett and his wife detailed similar accounts of abuse, claiming the man sexually assaulted a young girl during trips, hikes and visits to his house.

The lawsuit says Bassett "used any excuse he could to get (the child) alone and molest her," including checking her for ticks while on camping trips and checking her for injuries following a car collision.

In the victim's seventh grade year, her parents met with Bassett and a religious leader and Bassett told the girl's parents "he was sorry for what he had done, and that he was happy to pay for therapy," the lawsuit says, but "did not disclose the exact nature of the actions for which he was apologizing."

The lawsuit alleges that Bassett continued to sexually abuse the girl, and that Bassett's wife "did nothing to stop him or else to report his actions to parents or law enforcement." Bassett once asked the girl's mother if she could go skiing with his family, but when he arrived to pick her up from school, he told her it would just be the two of them going skiing and throughout the day would repeatedly "fall" on the child on the slopes as an excuse to grope her, the lawsuit says.

"We remain committed to seeking justice for all victims, regardless of the time that has passed," West said in a statement. The Davis County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone who might have been victimized by Bassett to call detective Derrick Pyles at 801-451-4403.

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