Today, Utah Attorney General Reyes released the following statement upon hearing of the passing of the Ogden Police officer who was killed in the line of duty:
“This is the worst news possible. I am heartbroken to learn of the Ogden Police officer who was killed in the line of duty while answering a domestic violence call today. His wife and family received the phone call today no law enforcement family member ever wants to get.
“My agency and I send all of our prayers and love to the officer’s family and to Chief Randy Watt and the entire Ogden City Police Department. We also pray for the rapid recovery of the Adult Probation and Parole agent who was also shot in the same incident. This is a humbling reminder of the risks and sacrifice our officers face every single day on the job. I am filled with gratitude to all those men and women in law enforcement who are answering calls even under the added duress of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“I know our Utah 1033 Foundation is activated and we will be ready to support and help the family financially immediately. Other great organizations like FOP are mobilized to assist the family as well.”
Last week, the Utah Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force charged a Utah man after he allegedly groomed a 6-year-old girl by chatting through video and text for over a year and received sexually explicit images of her and her 6-year-old cousin.
Danny Steven Hardman, 43, was charged in the 3rd District Court with four counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, a second-degree felony.
On April 13, 2020, Facebook reported that four images of child pornography had been sent to Hardman through Facebook Messenger. The Facebook account that sent the images belonged to a 6-year-old girl in Indiana. The account was setup “as a permitted child account associated with a parent Facebook account”. In an interview with Indiana law enforcement, the mother of the victim admitted to approving the Facebook contact with Hardman and that they had met Hardman through a mutual friend and played online video games together. She denied knowledge that Hardman had been chatting with her daughter. She was able to identify the other 6-year-old girl in the photos as a cousin who often visited their home.
On May 21, 2020, agents served a search warrant on Hardman’s home. During an interview, Hardman admitted to chatting with the victim for over a year, almost every day through both video chat and Facebook Messenger. He stated that these chats would often last for over an hour but were never sexual.
The charges state that Hardman had “built a close personal relationship with the victims in this case through more than a year-long pattern of grooming behavior”.
UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE, CHILDREN’S JUSTICE CENTERS LAUNCH NEW SHINE CHILD ABUSE SUPPORT INITIATIVE SHINE Campaign Lead By Survivors Rabbi Avremi Zippel, Former Senator Aaron Osmond and Musician Deondra Brown
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General’s Office and Children’s Justice Center Program (CJC) have launched a public awareness campaign dedicated to changing the conversation around child abuse and empowering survivors.
Utah is the first state to roll out a SHINE campaign of this size with a digital marketing presence and an original PSA. Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes was joined by Utah natives and SHINE ambassadors Rabbi Avremi Zippel (Chabad Lubavitch of Utah), Aaron Osmond (former state senator) and Deondra Brown (pianist of The 5 Browns). Additionally, billboards have been placed throughout the state promoting SHINE and the important work of local CJCs.
The National Children’s Alliance, national membership organization for CJCs, created SHINE as an initiative to end the stigma associated with child abuse and encourage community members to support survivors.
Zippel said that being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse is a lonely and isolating experience. “The SHINE Campaign provides survivors of child abuse with reminders that are so necessary — that they are in no way alone and can and will go on to lead the fullest and most meaningful lives imaginable. We are fortunate to have organizations like Utah’s CJCs that are a pillar of support to young people in our community. I am proud to be part of this endeavor to stand with, inspire, and support fellow survivors.”
The campaign’s ambassadors acknowledge that each survivor’s path is different and equally valid. For some, their healing is private and personal. For others, action is a powerful tool.
Osmond said as a legislator, he felt compelled to strengthen state laws to protect the rights of victims. “As a victim of abuse, I also realized my own story needed to be told in that public setting to help remove the stigma of talking about abuse. It was hard to open up about such a personal impact. But in sharing my story, I have helped to engage my legislative colleagues, neighbors, and friends in discussing the problem and creating awareness in how we can all prevent child abuse”.
During the current pandemic, Attorney General Reyes stated that Utah’s child abuse reports have dropped by about 40%, but not because child abuse has declined. Stay-at-home restrictions have made it difficult for the most common mandatory reporters — teachers, coaches and other trusted adults — to observe concerning behaviors, or for children to safely disclose to them. As statewide restrictions inch closer to a new norm, professionals who work with child abuse victims hope children will begin to feel comfortable enough to disclose. But public awareness is also an important factor moving forward.
The SHINE campaign celebrates the resiliency of survivors and the critical role of CJCs in helping children find hope, support and healing. Every year Utah’s 25 CJCs handle more than 7,200 cases, providing advocacy, medical and mental health services, and other support to children throughout the justice process.
Brown is optimistic about the road ahead for this next generation of children. “If I had known as a child that CJCs were out there, I would have come forward much sooner and disclosed about the abuse I experienced. I was afraid I wouldn’t be believed and would be all alone. But the tides are shifting. People are discussing this topic and the message of SHINE is an opportunity to take that a step further — to celebrate the strength and determination of survivors and challenge us all to stand by them. If children who are experiencing abuse now see there are others out there who understand and will believe them, they will feel more empowered to come forward.”
To download press materials on the Utah SHINE Campaign, please click here.
About SHINE SHINE is a national campaign to transform the conversation about child abuse. For too many, childhood is where the trauma starts. It’s time for us to be a light that survivors can turn to.
About Utah Children’s Justice Centers When abuse is suspected, the child is brought to a Children’s Justice Center–a safe, child-focused facility– to talk to a trained interviewer. A team of professionals make decisions together about how to handle the case and help the child. Children and families are connected with services and supported throughout the process.
Watch the press conference on the launch of the SHINE campaign below:
UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES AND UTAH LAW ENFORCEMENT UNITED TO SUPPORT FIRST RESPONDER BENEFITS Congress Considers Bill to Extend Death Benefits Due to COVID-19
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes is leading a coalition of law enforcement officers from around the State of Utah in urging Congress to quickly pass S.3607 – Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act of 2020.
S. 3607 has already passed the U.S. Senate and is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives. The bill extends death benefits under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program (PSOB) to survivors of public safety officers (e.g., law enforcement officers) who die because of COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019). The PSOB program provides death, disability, and education benefits to public safety officers and survivors of public safety officers who are killed or injured in the line of duty.
Specifically, this bill creates a general presumption that a public safety officer who dies from COVID-19 or related complications sustained an injury in the line of duty.
“Our men and women of law enforcement are answering calls on the front lines every day, facing numerous threats including the coronavirus. I see it every day in my own state. I’m proud we can join our voices together as a Utah blue community to care for the families of our fallen officers,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “It is urgent Congress pass this bill and allow President Trump to sign it quickly. The pandemic has already claimed the lives of several law enforcement officers and there will sadly be more. The families of these front-line responders deserve these benefits in the fastest and most efficient way possible.”
Among the Utah law enforcement agencies joining in support of this legislation include the Utah Fraternal Order of Police, the Utah Sheriff’s Association, the Utah Chiefs of Police and the Utah Peace Officers Association.
On this Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those brave men and women that gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation and our families. We remember our fallen comrades who never returned home, and we offer our greatest condolences those who have lost their loved ones.
Today as we celebrate with our families, let us make sure we recognize those that have served through hardships and who courageously fought to protect our rights and freedoms. We express our gratitude to those who have served in uniform, whether overseas or on American soil. May we never forget those that allow us to live in liberty and prosperity, today and every day.
Attorney General Sean D. Reyes released the following statement on the passing of Coach Jerry Sloan:
“Today, I join the many Utah Jazz and NBA fans around the world in mourning the loss of Coach Jerry Sloan. He was a tough, no-nonsense All-Star player and Hall of Fame coach who demanded the highest level of excellence and hard work from himself, his staff and players. On a personal level, I enjoyed our interactions very much. Coach was a man of no pretense. He was always himself and those around him were better for it. He took time to talk to me about life, tractors (he had dozens of them) and sports in spite of the fact I grew up as a kid in the rival Lakers organization.
“The leadership and consistency he provided to the Jazz organization over decades as its coach are unparalleled and he will always be remembered for the Jazz’s most successful years to date. Because he was not self-promoting, many Jazz fans don’t realize the elite company he keeps among the Mount Rushmore of NBA coaches.
“Some of his most impressive accomplishments include: A career regular-season win-loss record of 1,223-803, placing him third all-time in NBA wins at the time he retired. Coach Sloan was only the fifth coach in NBA History to reach 1,000 victories and is one of two coaches in NBA History to record 1,000 wins with one club. He also coached for one team longer than anyone in NBA history. He coached the Jazz to 15 consecutive playoff appearances from 1989-2003-one of only four coaches in NBA history with 15-plus consecutive seasons with a winning record (Greg Popovich, Pat Riley and Phil Jackson are the others). He, of course, led the Utah Jazz to NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998 and was deserving of multiple Coach of the Year awards (in my book).
“In his later years, Coach fought Parkinson’s disease and dementia the way he fought through a screen or for a rebound–with determination and unapologetically. Saysha and I offer our condolences to his family and close friends, to the Utah Jazz organization and to Jazz fans everywhere.”
ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN REYES JOINS COALITION OF 34 STATES URGING CONGRESS TO PASS LEGISLATION ALLOWING MARIJUANA-RELATED BUSINESS TO ACCESS THE BANKING SYSTEM Utah Treasurer David Damschen and Utah Bankers Association in Support of This Effort
SALT LAKE CITY – The badly needed gap between federal regulations and the lack of access to financial institutions for medical and legal use marijuana businesses is being addressed with proposed federal legislation that has the support of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Utah Treasurer David Damschen and the President of the Utah Banking Association, Howard Headlee.
Attorney General Reyes today joined a bipartisan coalition of 34 state and territorial attorneys general urging Congress to pass, as part of upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 1595) or similar measures that would give legal marijuana-related businesses access to the federal banking system.
“This bill would allow Utah to make critically needed changes regarding legal medical cannabis transactions in our state,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “Utah worked hard to find a sensible, humane and balanced approach to medical marijuana policy. But current federal law prevents access to insured financial institutions for businesses in this industry. That creates significant practical and public safety issues for both the general public and for Utah businesses legally operating in the medical cannabis space.”
Utah Treasurer David Damschen said, “There is no silver bullet to address the cannabis banking problem on the state level. We need the federal government to respect the move among states toward varying degrees of legalization and to better harmonize its laws regarding cannabis-related activities, particularly with respect to banking regulation.”
Damschen continued, “The inability of insured financial institutions to handle cannabis-related transactions has forced businesses and governments throughout the U.S. to resort to cash to settle transactions. This represents an enormous public safety issue, increasing risk of violent crime, fraud, and theft. Providing regulated and insured financial services to cannabis businesses allows law enforcement, and specifically the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) within the U.S. Department of Treasury, the transparency needed to distinguish legal cannabis businesses from illegal activity.”
Utah Banking Association President Howard Headlee said, “Utah Banks offer critical services for small businesses to deposit their daily receipts, manage cash flow, secure loans and protect assets. The changes outlined in the SAFE Banking Act will allow the new medical marijuana businesses to operate just as every other law-abiding business does in our state. We will be able to safely accommodate a sector that otherwise would be relegated to untenable methods just to operate normally.”
Under existing law, federal regulators prohibit financial institutions from providing services to marijuana businesses in states where medical or retail marijuana sales are legal. Forcing legal businesses to operate as cash-only operations poses serious safety threats, creating targets for violent and white-collar crime. The SAFE Banking Act permits marijuana-related businesses in states and territories with existing regulatory structures to access the federal banking system.
The SAFE Banking Act has widespread, bipartisan support with 206 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House passed the bill in September 2019. The HEROES Act relief legislation, which the House approved last week, also included the language of the SAFE Banking Act.
In their letter, the attorneys general note that the COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on problems that the SAFE Banking Act is intended to remediate, including health and safety concerns stemming from frequent and large cash exchanges.
Last week, the Utah Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force arrested and charged the former director of operations for the Salt Lake City International Airport for possessing over 50,000 images of child pornography.
Randall Darwood Berg, 69, was charged in the 3rd District Court with 25 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, all second-degree felonies.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received eight separate Cybertip reports from Google of a user uploading and storing suspected files of child pornography to their account. An agent with the ICAC Task Force inspected the reported files and confirmed they contained child pornography. The ICAC Task Force was able to trace the files back to Berg who lived in Draper, Utah. A search warrant revealed approximately 30,000 images of child pornography.
After executing a residential search warrant, ICAC agents discovered an additional 20,000 files of child pornography on his computer.
In an interview with ICAC agents, Berg admitted to intentionally searching for child pornography since 2001 or 2002.
The Court has ordered that bail be set at $500,000.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has partnered with a number of local businesses to collect and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to rescue and law enforcement agencies who were running out.
Together, PPE was secured and distributed statewide when PPE was not readily available to first responders. There was a huge need based on the scarcity of PPE and the desire to help keep law enforcement agencies and other first responders safe.
So far, PPE has been delivered to over 100 law enforcement agencies and Children’s Justice Centers statewide. This has included:
14,300 N95 masks
500 KN90 masks
1,200 bottles of hand sanitizer
Over 200 hours and nearly 10,000 miles have been driven by Attorney General’s Office agents delivering PPE statewide.
Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes released the following statement in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month:
Whether one identifies as Asian Pacific American, Asian American Pacific Islander, some subset of those categories or, like me, all of the above, May is a month we celebrate the national contributions of a diverse group representing over fifty ethnic minority peoples and the fastest-growing minority demographic in America.
As with other parts of my ancestry, I’m very proud of my Asian and Pacific Island roots and how much they have contributed to my American heritage. All the wisdom, truth and beauty of Japan, Hawaii, the Phillipines and China have combined to layer into my identity as a proud, flag-waving, red-blooded American.
In many ways, I feel I have the best of all worlds. I’m the son of many noble and ancient cultures and people. I’ve inherited the honor, courage and strength of Asia and the South Pacific blended with the drive, ingenuity and pluck of the greatest nation on earth. All the history and inspiration of the American experience that my ancestors adopted when they came to this country—combined with the opportunities of the American dream they came for, fought for and then realized over generations—is mine.
What a birthright! While my predecessors did not come across the Mayflower or settle the colonies, they made up for lost time embracing America as their beloved home. And they are joined by countless other APAs who have overachieved across so many industries and disciplines to build and fortify America often in the face of discrimination, prejudice and many stereotypes.
The spirit and hard work of Asian and Pacific Americans throughout the nation, past and present, immigrant or native-born, have accomplished so much and forged such success in American business, medicine, law, education, engineering, art, public and military service, as first responders, in the skilled and food industries, small shops, startups and boardrooms, non-profits, sports and entertainment and in so many other professional endeavors.
APA sacrifices are part of our shared history and present-day experience. Just a few examples are Chinese Railroad workers in the 1800s connecting the vast expanses of our country, heroic Japanese 442nd combat veterans in WWII and Filipino nurses on the front lines of today’s COVID-19 crisis.
Equally important are the successes in the home with dedicated parents and grandparents raising families and educating kids with the values and principles that make America great. Their contributions are an integral part of the fabric of our proud Republic!
As we celebrate Asian Pacific Americans in the month of May, let’s not forget that every month of the year, we are beneficiaries of their patriotic contributions to America.