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AG Reyes Statement on UK’s Assessment of Google in Competition and Markets Authority Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY – This week, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) released their Online Platforms and Digital Advertising Market Study Interim Report, which assesses the market power of Google and other online platforms. Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes issued the following statement:

“The CMA’s interim report reflects a growing concern over Google’s business practices and our office applauds the efforts of many other competition authorities around the world to examine the dominance and conduct of tech giant Google in online markets. As a leader in the multi-state, bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys general, I pledge to closely follow the facts we discover in our own investigation to see if Google has harmed competition, undermined consumer choice, stifled innovation, or violated users’ privacy and trust.”

In September, Attorney General Reyes and 49 other attorneys general launched a bipartisan investigation of tech giant Google’s business practices in accordance with state and federal antitrust laws. The coalition announced plans to investigate Google’s overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers. This investigation is ongoing.

To view a copy of the report, click here

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Utah Man Convicted to Consecutive Terms of Up to Life in Prison for Sex Trafficking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2019

AGGRAVATED SEX TRAFFICKING CASE: CONSECUTIVE TERMS OF UP TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR UTAH MAN
 

SALT LAKE CITY – This week, James Savage Brown was sentenced to the maximum sentence on each of eight counts of human trafficking-related charges in the Utah Third District Court. Brown was convicted in August 2019 on each of the charges, which included Aggravated Human Trafficking, Aggravated Kidnapping, Rape, Forcible Sodomy, Aggravated Exploitation of Prostitution and Tampering with a witness.
 
“This is a case where the penalty has matched the severity of the atrocious crimes committed by James Savage Brown,” Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said. “Human Trafficking is a brutal violation of human rights and dignity and I pledge every resource in my office to continue to fight it.”
 
Attorney General Reyes continued, “I’m extremely proud of our team—particularly Assistant Utah Attorney General Tye Christensen, former Assistant Utah Attorney General Russell Smith, along with our victim advocate group—for their hard work and dedication in this case and those other cases still under investigation.” 
 
Background
Utah Attorney General SECURE Strike Force agents learned of Brown’s activity last year from one of the victims, S.S., after she was released from the Salt Lake County Detention Center. While there, S.S. encountered another woman, J.M., who had suffered similarly at the hands of Brown. Investigators later learned that J.M. had previously reported her encounter with Brown to the Salt Lake City Police Department. Both victims told stories of manipulation and coercion, including exploiting drug dependency, threatened or actual physical abuse, fear for their lives, and repeated attempts and/or success in forced commercial sex by Brown. Shortly after Brown was arrested, investigators overheard Brown, via telephone, direct an associate to tamper with a victim that Brown believed to be working with law enforcement.
 
Trial
At trial, the jury heard each victim-witness testify about how Brown victimized them and preyed upon their vulnerabilities. The victim-witnesses showed immense strength and authenticity in sharing such traumatic and personal experiences with the jury. During closing statements at trial, the jury was encouraged to consider the credibility of the victim-witnesses. After a few hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Brown on all counts.
 
Sentencing
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Parker with the Third District Court sentenced Brown to four terms of five years up to life in prison, one term of fifteen years up to life in prison, two terms of one year to fifteen years in prison, and a term of zero to five years in prison. The sentence of count one, five years to life in prison, will run consecutive to the remaining counts, the most serious being fifteen years to life in prison. This is the maximum possible sentence for these charges. Judge Parker explained that this sentence balanced the defendant’s interest in an appropriate length of imprisonment for rehabilitation with each victims’ interest in justice for what they experienced.

Acknowledgments
Human trafficking cases are very complex and require the strength and talents of many professionals in order to properly serve victims, as well as investigate and prosecute the criminal conduct. Attorney General Reyes wishes to thank the following organizations and individuals for their dedicated work in this case:

  • The Utah Attorney General’s Office’s SECURE Strike Force, which is tasked with investigating human trafficking throughout the state. The case agent and lead investigator uncovered important evidence to corroborate the victims’ testimony, assisted the victims throughout their recovery and trial preparation, and testified at trial;
  • The Salt Lake City Police Department, whose collaboration was instrumental in identifying victims, ensuring they received necessary medical care, and corroborating victims’ reports.
  • Victim service providers with the Refugee and Immigrant Center, Asian Association of Utah (RIC-AAU). They coordinated and provided comprehensive services to the victims in this case, untethered to the victims’ cooperation in the prosecution;
  • Victim service providers with Journey of Hope who initially referred the case and assisted victims throughout the case and in preparation for trial;
  • The Utah Attorney General’s Office’s victim services coordinator, who worked tirelessly to ensure that the victims’ needs were met, and their rights were represented at every stage of the proceeding;
  • Utah Attorney General’s Office Paralegal Michelle Rasmussen, who kept the case file for the prosecution, assisted in witness trial preparation, and organized and managed the evidence, exhibits, and witnesses for trial; and
  • Assistant Utah Attorney General Tye Christensen and former Assistant Utah Attorney General Russell Smith, who filed the case, argued important evidentiary motions, presented the trial, and argued at sentencing.

 
If you encounter or suspect any form of human trafficking, you can report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 888-373-7888, or text “HELP” to BeFree, 233-733.
 

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A Look into SafeUTNG

December 16, 2019

Since 2015, the SafeUT app has provided professional mental health support for youth in crisis. Lives have been saved amid tens of thousands of chats and tips generated on the app. Now, there is a similar resource for members of Utah’s Army and Air National Guard: SafeUTNG.

SafeUTNG is a new suicide prevention, crisis text and tipline, available to Utah military service members and their families. Like the SafeUT app, SafeUTNG provides a safe, confidential platform to communicate with a crisis counselor 24/7.

In 2018, 541 service members died by suicide. According to a report by the Department of Defense in September 2019, the suicide rate in the National Guard was significantly higher than the active duty and Reserve’s. The most recent figure is 30.6 deaths per 100,000 service members. Additionally, the majority of service members who die by suicide were not diagnosed with mental illness. SafeUTNG hopes this new, multi-faceted platform will make a difference and save lives, similarly to the success of the SafeUT app.

The SafeUTNG app is an extension of SafeUT, which provides real-time crisis intervention to Utah’s students, parents, and educators, and works similarly. Crisis help is available through texting and calling. Additionally, the app allows service members to submit tips anonymously. The app is managed by the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) in partnership with the Utah National Guard.

“Speaking up when in crisis, whether it’s in person or over the phone, can be uncomfortable for many,” said Robert Spencer, Suicide Prevention Program Manager of the Utah Army National Guard in a release regarding the SafeUTNG app. “Communicating via apps or text has been the main way in which Soldiers and Airmen prefer to correspond.” 

The app emphasizes that it should not be used in an emergency. Instead, users are encouraged to dial 911.

CrisisLine Counselors can assist with a wide variety of problems including:

  • Emotional crisis
  • Grief and loss
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Mental health issues
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide prevention

SafeUTNG is free and available for download from the Google Play Store and the App Store.


FCC Votes to Proceed Designation of 988 as New Suicide Prevention Hotline Number

December 13, 2019

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to proceed with the process of designating 988 as the new, nationwide, 3-digit number dedicated as a suicide prevention and mental health crisis line. This number will replace the current, 12-digit number 1-800-273-8255.

“This designation will help ease access to crisis services, reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health condition, and ultimately save lives,” the FCC said in a release Thursday.

This decision follows a report the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Economics and Analytics sent to Congress in August recommending a 3-digit dialing code as the crisis hotline. The report noted a more than 20% increase in suicides in over most of the nation from 1999 to 2019. It also noted increasing suicide rates in Veterans and the LGBTQ community.

“This is 911 for mental and behavioral crises. And this emergency number started right here in Utah, with amazing partners like Senator Daniel Thatcher and this office demanding more be done to address the alarming suicide rates in this nation,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes.

“We couldn’t get it passed at the state level, so we pushed to the federal level. Senator Hatch and Congressman Stewart were our champions. It’s amazing to finally see it come to fruition. It is one of the achievements in public service of which I am most proud.

“A simplified three-digit suicide and mental and behavioral health hotline will make a huge difference when it comes to intervention and prevention. It will save lives! No doubt,” Attorney General Reyes added.

All telecommunication carriers and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol service providers must implement the 988 number within the next 18 months.

The Commission will begin taking public comment on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking following publication in the Federal Register. Following review of that public record, the Commission will move toward final rules.

The change to the 988 hotline will not be implemented for several months. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or contemplating suicide, please use the SafeUT app to speak with a crisis counselor for free or call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).


AG Reyes Joins Bipartisan Coalition in Calling for Fentanyl Knock-offs to Remain a Schedule I Drug

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2019

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES JOINS BIPARTISAN COALITION IN CALLING FOR FENTANYL KNOCK-OFFS TO REMAIN A SCHEDULE I DRUG
All 56 Attorneys General Support and Agree
 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes has joined a bipartisan coalition of all 56 attorneys general in calling for Congress to permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs.

Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
 
“We’ve got to do everything we can to stop the catastrophic and accelerating abuse of Fentanyl-related substances and its family of opioids,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “Make no mistake: This is a national crisis. The legitimate use of these drugs has dwindled even as abuse and deaths grow. I urge Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

In the letter, the attorneys general urge Congress to pass S. 2701, the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary scheduling order in February 2018 to schedule fentanyl-related substances that has allowed federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against individuals who manufacture, distribute or handle fentanyl-related substances.

This scheduling order is set to expire less than two months from now on Feb. 6, 2020. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act codifies DEA precedent to schedule fentanyl-related substances.

The FIGHT Fentanyl Act will ensure law enforcement agencies and courts retain the tools needed to keep those who traffic in this deadly substance off the streets.

In the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 72,000 drug-related deaths in the United States in 2017. Of those deaths, roughly 40% involved fentanyl or a fentanyl-related compound.

Attorneys general from every state, territory and the District of Columbia signed the letter.
 

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Commemorating Human Rights Day & Week

December 10, 2019

Today on Human Rights Day and this week for Human Rights Week, we commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This document was a milestone in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world and adopted in 1948, the Declaration proclaimed a common standard for all peoples and all nations. For the first time in history, the Declaration set forth the fundamental human rights that are to be universally protected.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights states that the UDHR “has set the direction for all subsequent work in the field of human rights and has provided the basic philosophy for many legally binding international instruments designed to protect the rights and freedoms which it proclaims.”

The theme for Human Rights Week is ‘Human rights start with you’. This simple, yet important message establishes the inherent need for each of us to recognize our part in ensuring that the principles of freedom, respect, equality, and dignity are established and thriving in our communities and in our interactions with those around us.

Let us reaffirm our commitment to respect and adhere to the inalienable human rights proclaimed within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and continue to work to unify men and women of every background in every nation around the world.


Utah Gets an ‘A’ for Fighting Child Sex Trafficking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2019
 

UTAH GETS AN ‘A’ FOR FIGHTING CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING
Shared Hope International Scores Enforcement Standards of Protection for Minors
 

SALT LAKE CITY – The State of Utah is now ranked among the top in the nation for its dedication to the fight against minor sex trafficking, according to Shared Hope International. See Utah’s report card here.  

In its yearly rankings, Utah received an ‘A’ for its dedication and strength of the state’s laws related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In 2011, Utah received an ‘F’. The amount of progress is due to many factors and dedicated partners, including the tireless efforts of Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, the Attorney General SECURE Strike Force, the ICAC Task Force, the UTIP Task Force, legislation passed by the Utah Legislature and the dedication and commitment of the Governor’s office.

“Combatting human trafficking is an absolute priority for our office,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “There are incredible, dedicated people who work hard every day as part of this effort, and that work is far from over. We will continue to do everything we can to fight this heinous activity.” 

Every year, Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating minor sex trafficking, releases report cards for each state in the nation with a grade based on the strength of their laws related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Grades are based on an annual review of state laws as analyzed under the Protected Innocence Challenge Legislative Framework.

States are graded on the analysis and review of six areas:

  • Criminalization of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking 
  • Criminal Provisions for Demand (those who buy)
  • Criminal Provisions for Traffickers (those who sell)
  • Criminal Provisions for Facilitators (those who help)
  • Protective Provisions for Child Victims 
  • Criminal Justice Tools for Investigation & Prosecution

Shared Hope International is a non-profit organization that works to prevent sex trafficking and to bring justice to women and children who have been victimized through sex trafficking. 
 

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Native American Heritage Day

November 29, 2019

Today we celebrate Native American Heritage Day and urge our friends to take the time to recognize the rich cultural heritage and the significant impact of Native American culture on our past, present, and future. We honor their achievements and the numerous contributions Native Americans have made and continue to make to the United States and the world in the fields of agriculture, medicine, music, language, and art. You can learn more here: https://utah.com/culture/native-american-tribes

The Utah Attorney General’s Office encourages Utahns to join them in celebrating this great day by educating yourself and others on the great Native American tribes in Utah and the unique history and challenges they have faced both historically and in the present. 

On this Thanksgiving weekend, let’s celebrate and honor the many ways Native Americans enrich our nation and the great State of Utah.


Happy Thanksgiving!

November 28, 2019

Today as we gather with our families and reflect on the many blessings in our lives, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes shares his well-wishes for Thanksgiving:

On behalf of the amazing public servants with whom I’m privileged to serve, we wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

We’re blessed to live in this nation and thank all who serve and protect it. While we celebrate Thanksgiving, others in America and around the world are suffering from abuse, illness, addiction, depression, hunger, homelessness, as victims of crime, and in so many other ways.

We pray for and wish them all measures of peace, comfort, and hope as members of our human family.


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