The state's chief child abuse prosecutor says it's anger that keeps him going when pursuing criminal charges against people who beat, abuse and sexually assault kids.
"You just get mad," Assistant Utah Attorney General Robert N. Parrish said this week as he prepared for a four-hour road trip to Moab to file charges against two men - one involving the death of a child, the other alleged sexual abuse of a child.Parrish is the state prosecutor who convicted child molester Allan B. Hadfield in the sensational child abuse case that involved allegations of a child abuse "ring" in a quiet Lehi neighborhood. Other charges may follow in that case.
Since the Hadfield trial, Parrish has received numerous requests from county prosecutors from around the state who want to learn from his expertise in child abuse prosecution.
The work is challenging, but it's often depressing for Parrish, himself a father, to see the sometimes monstrous things mothers and fathers do to their kids.
In those moments, it's anger that sustains him - the sort of anger he felt Tuesday as he drove to Moab to file second-degree murder charges in 7th Circuit Court against Steven Ray Allen, 40, in connection with the death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old son.
A charging document, signed by state investigator Michael E. Hines, recounts the state's allegations in the strange and tragic death of 3-year-old Michael Barrie, son of Deborah Barrie.
On Dec. 16, 1986, Allen and Barrie were shopping. While Barrie and her older son went into a store, Allen stayed in the truck with the 3-year-old boy. Within three to five minutes, Parrish said, Allen rushed into the store with the boy in his arms, saying he had stopped breathing. The boy was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.
Parrish said Allen claimed he had done nothing to cause the death and doctors in the hospital did not suspect any problems, so the body was embalmed. Allen and Barrie put the body in the back of a pickup truck and headed for Idaho Falls for burial.
Parrish said Moab police finally became suspicious and contacted authorities in Bountiful, where the couple had stopped for the night. Police attempted to persuade Barrie to have an autopsy performed on the child, but she refused. The two continued to Idaho Falls where the boy was buried.
But the mother later decided to have the body exhumed for an autopsy. When Allen learned of the mother's intention, he left.
Parrish said the autopsy showed 11 broken ribs in various stages of healing. There were also bruises on the head and chin. But examiners could not determine the cause of death.
"But the pattern of child abuse was clear," Parrish said. "And whatever happened, he (the boy) was in good health three minutes before he turned up dead."
In addition to the murder count, Allen is also charged with three counts of physical abuse. The document charges that Allen kicked Michael Barrie in the buttocks; punched him in the chest and abdomen, breaking his ribs; and that Allen hung the boy from his shoulder with the boy's coat so that he couldn't breath.
Parrish said Allen's whereabouts are not known, but some witnesses say they saw him in Salt Lake City recently. Parrish said Allen is also something of a "mountain man" and could be hiding out in the Idaho Falls area, where he has also been seen.
In the second case, Jimmy Ray Richardson, 53, Moab, is charged with five counts of sexual abuse and four counts of sexual abuse of a 9-year-old boy between June 1984 and September 1985.