VERNAL — A man is facing felony charges after police say he sexually assaulted an autistic teenager in the locker room at the community recreation center.
Vernal Police Sgt. Bob Taylor said officers were called to the Uintah Community Center just before 9 p.m. Thursday. Employees had detained Taggart John Anderton, 50, after he was found naked in a toilet stall with a 15-year-old boy, Taylor said.
Anderton "lay in wait" in the men's locker room until the alleged victim, who is autistic and has other developmental disabilities, entered a shower stall, the sergeant said.
"Taggert Anderton approached this child and physically molested the child," Taylor said.
The teen's father told investigators he had returned to the locker room when his son hadn't come out in a timely manner. He said he called out his son's name but got no response.
"Taggert had covered the child's mouth so he could not respond to his father," Taylor said.
The teen told police that after his father left the room, the man moved him to the toilet stall and locked the door. Taylor said the man attempted to further molest the teen.
"Rec center security staff and the parents at that point intervened and found Taggart in the nude with the child in the toilet stall," Taylor said.
Police believe, based on their investigation, that the teen had been targeted for abuse and that the man intended to kidnap him from the rec center to continue that abuse.
Taylor said officers determined that Anderton was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of his arrest. They also allegedly found a gram of meth in his wallet.
Thursday's arrest is not the first time Anderton has been accused of kidnapping someone.
In 2002, according to court records, he was charged with holding three people captive in their home overnight, tying the doors shut and setting an alarm system. Police said Anderton and the victims in that case knew each other through past drug deals.
Anderton was charged with three counts of kidnapping, along with distribution of a controlled substance, but was allowed to plead guilty to reduced charges and enter into the Uintah County Drug Court program. He graduated from the program in 2005, and the charges against him were dismissed.
Anderton remains in the Uintah County Jail. He is charged with forcible sodomy, aggravated kidnapping, forcible sex abuse, attempted forcible sex abuse, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.