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Ex-Wasatch County jailer faces second lawsuit, more sexual assault charges

Published: Monday, July 9 2012 5:02 p.m. MDT

Former Wasatch County jailer Christopher Stein Epperson faces criminal charges for allegedly sexually assaulting two former female inmates. Two women have filed civil lawsuits against him.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A second woman filed a lawsuit Monday claiming a former Wasatch County jailer sexually assaulted her while she was incarcerated.

Meantime, federal prosecutors recently increased the number of criminal charges against Christopher Stein Epperson in connection with the allegations. Epperson now faces nine counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and four counts of unauthorized access to a computer. Color of law means that the person is using lawful authority bestowed by a local, state or federal agency.

The 34-year-old Heber City man was initially charged last year with three counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. He pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court.

Epperson forced two female inmates at various times to expose their breasts so he could touch and photograph them and forced one woman to reach down his pants, according to a federal indictment. Because federal prosecutors allege some of the incidents involved aggravated attempted sexual abuse, he faces up to life in prison if convicted.

In her suit filed Monday, former inmate Deborah Hatch claims Epperson threatened to get her jail time extended if she did not comply with his demands. He took her out of her cell at night to a windowless commissary room where he sexually assaulted her, the lawsuit alleges.

Former inmate Julie Hoggan claims in her lawsuit filed in 2010 that Epperson backed her into a corner where he groped her and forced her to fondle him. On one occasion, the suit claims, he attempted to forcibly sodomize her.

Epperson denied the allegations in a response to Hoggan's lawsuit.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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