DUCHESNE — A Duchesne County woman has admitted she sexually abused a child in the early '90s while living as a man.
Susan Elizabeth Rye pleaded guilty Monday in 8th District Court to a single count of sex abuse of a child, which was reduced from a second-degree felony to a third-degree felony. Judge Samuel Chiara agreed to dismiss two other child sex abuse charges at the request of Duchesne County prosecutors in exchange for Rye's plea.
Rye, 61, was arrested in January following a 14-month investigation into allegations that she had sexually abused a 5-year-old girl. The alleged abuse took place over the course of several months in late 1989 and early 1990 while Rye was still living as a man.
Court records show Rye legally changed her name from Randall Donald Rye in January 2009. Defense attorney Bill Morrison said his client identifies herself as a woman. Her driver's license also lists her as a woman, Morrison confirmed.
Rye's victim came forward for the first time in October 2012 after months of counseling because she feared there might be other victims, according to Duchesne County sheriff's detectives. Over the next year, investigators interviewed a number of people, including Rye, before prosecutors reviewed the case and filed charges.
Following the entry of Rye's plea Monday, Morrison asked Chiara if his client could be released from jail pending sentencing. The defense attorney told the judge that a recent psychosexual evaluation conducted as part of the case showed that Rye does not pose a danger to the community.
Duchesne County prosecutor Grant Charles objected to any kind of release from jail prior to sentencing. Charles said during their investigation detectives obtained a copy of a book Rye was writing around the time of his arrest.
"It's a fictional book about incest and the sexual abuse of children," the prosecutor said. "I don't think the psychosexual evaluation went into enough depth to tell us how dangerous (Rye) really is."
Morrison countered that Rye's book was part of a therapeutic exercise meant to "purge inclinations toward behavior outside societal norms," but Chiara declined to reverse the decision he'd previously made to have Rye held in jail without bail.
The judge ordered Rye to undergo a second psychosexual evaluation in advance of an Oct. 22 sentencing hearing.
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