Dashcam video appears to debunk woman's claim of sexual assault by deputy

Published: Friday, Sept. 28 2012 7:41 p.m. MDT

"We made the decision for her — for legal strategy reasons — not to have her talk with them," said tribal attorney Jeff Rasmussen, who works for the same law firm as Patterson and Bassett.

The Deseret News filed a public records request seeking a copy of the attorney general's investigative report. It was told the final report is still awaiting approval from the office's chief of law enforcement, so it could not be released.

But Foote said Friday that state investigators deemed Wopsock's allegations "unfounded."

"They found that there was no wrongdoing by the officer and we stand by that," he said. "Had it gone the other way, I think that the officer would have been charged."

Wopsock is not interested in seeing Dalton face criminal charges, according to Preston Stieff, the Salt Lake City attorney who filed the federal lawsuit on her behalf.

"She doesn't have any particular desire to do that," Stieff said back in June. "She sought the relief she wants to obtain through this lawsuit."

On Friday, Stieff confirmed that his client still intends to move ahead with the $1 million suit.

Both Foote and Mitchell believe the timing of the lawsuit against Dalton shows that the Ute Tribe is trying to  intimidate the county into softening its position in a long-running dispute over law enforcement jurisdiction in the Uintah Basin.

On May 21, Dalton and Duchesne County Justice Court Judge Clair Poulson asked a federal judge to prevent the tribe and its members from suing county officials in Ute Tribal Court. Wopsock filed her lawsuit one month later.

"Some of the communications we had received (from tribal leaders) — I considered them threats — said that they were going to file actions against us in court over possible civil rights violations," Mitchell said. "I had no idea it would come in the form of a fabricated (allegation)."

Tribal officials have long claimed their members are singled out by Mitchell's deputies for harassment. They also claim that deputies regularly try to enforce the law on tribal lands where they have no jurisdiction.

The sheriff, however, continues to maintain that his office has received no formal complaint from a tribal member alleging misconduct by his deputies. The allegations against Dalton have had a devastating impact on the former deputy and his family, Mitchell said, and have prompted the sheriff to issue his staff a warning.

"I've told them they need to be extra cautious when dealing with tribal member," Mitchell said. "By the same token we wouldn't want them to treat tribal members any differently than they would anybody else, but (the deputies) need to be careful and protect themselves."

E-mail: gliesik@desnews.com, Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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