PROVO — Jeffery Westerman should have known better.
That message was presented loud and clear Thursday when the former Provo police officer was sentenced to 180 days in jail for fondling a woman in exchange for not arresting her.
Westerman was in a position of trust and authority, yet he violated that and should "expect the condemnation of the community," said 4th District Judge David Mortensen.
"She literally had nowhere to run to," Mortensen said of Westerman's victim. "Where could her protection be found when her perpetrator was a police officer?"
Westerman, 33, pleaded guilty to attempted forcible sex abuse, a third-degree felony, and obstruction of justice, a class A misdemeanor, in December. In addition to the jail time, Mortensen sentenced him to three years of probation and ordered him to pay a $950 fine and $1,265 in restitution.
Westerman's victim, Leslie, who asked that her last name not be used, said she now suffers from "extreme anxiety," sees the former police officer in her nightmares and is afraid to drive her car anymore.
"If it was anyone other than a police officer I could have turned and walked away," she said. "I no longer feel safe in the presence of a police officer. I feel like I'm being stalked whenever I'm with a cop.
"I just hope I never have to call 911."
In the hearing, she told Westerman that she thinks of him every day "in a way that is terrifying and traumatic." But while she cannot forget what happened, she said she hopes to forgive him.
"As much as I feel the sting of your actions, I am a child of God and I hope you turn to Heavenly Father again."
Leslie's father, Patrick, spoke of the rage he had to fight when he heard what had happened to his daughter and the inclement disgust upon realizing Westerman had committed the abuse while in uniform.
"In my mind, he was never a police officer. He was a predator with a badge," he said.
Westerman's actions have impacted police investigations, because they can no longer place him on the stand as a credible witness in cases he investigated, prosecutor Craig Johnson said. His actions have also affected the legitimacy of other officers, who now have "people making cracks like: 'I'm ready to flash you, officer. What's the protocol here?'"
"Officers who used to be respected are being seen in a different light because of Mr. Westerman's actions," Johnson said.
The prosecutor said he was "surprised" Westerman had ever been hired by Provo police considering he had a history of assault, criminal mischief and possession of a dangerous weapon as a juvenile. That said, he asked for jail and probation to be consistent with the sentences of other cases.
Westerman issued a tearful and expansive apology in court, asking for forgiveness from everyone, including his victim, his wife, two sons and the Provo Police Department.
"Not a day goes by I don't regret my decisions that day," he said. "I'm sorry I was in a position of authority and trust, and I used the public to satisfy my sexual desires."
He said he embarrassed both Provo police and law enforcement officers everywhere through his actions.
"I was supposed to be the type of person who had high moral standards and I acted contrary to everything I am and everything I believe in, Westerman said.
Both Leslie and her father said they don't believe Westerman's apology was sincere.
"They were crocodile tears," Patrick said. "He was crying because he got caught, not because he was sorry for what happened."
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