I was deeply saddened by a recent report that painted me as the kind of person who would try to shield or even protect a sexual predator and serial abuser. Let me be clear, I have not and would never knowingly do anything to shield any individual who acted inappropriately with respect to sexual harassment. That being said, I believe the facts surrounding my involvement in the allegations of sexual misconduct by former Provo Police Chief John King were misrepresented and not accurately reported.
I have the deepest respect and admiration for the brave victims who have come forward. I fully support them and continue to stand by their side. I can’t imagine how hard this has been for them. As a husband, father and grandfather, my heart aches to think that there may have been something I could have done to help avoid the pain and trauma those victims have courageously faced. Anyone who knows me or has worked with me, knows that I would never deliberately tolerate the abhorrent behavior that John King has been accused of.
I want to set the record straight.
As mayor of Provo, I received two complaints regarding former Police Chief John King. The first incident was when a police dispatcher informed the city that she felt uncomfortable with the way the former chief looked at her. I never once questioned the validity of this allegation, and worked with both the human resource and legal departments of Provo City to resolve the complaint. I insisted that the matter be promptly resolved by Provo City’s human resources team. I personally worked with the chief to set boundaries in dispatch to make a better work environment for the employee.
The second incident occurred when I received a phone call in my car from a woman who explained that she had been raped by the Provo police chief. Again, I did not question the validity of her story, and I took her allegation extremely seriously. Within minutes, I contacted the appropriate city officials. In addition, I contacted Utah County to insist they pursue an independent investigation of this allegation. In order to avoid any potential conflict, Utah County requested that the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office perform the investigation. The chief was put on administrative leave while Salt Lake County investigated. Ultimately, they came to the conclusion that no charges should be filed and the Salt Lake County district attorney determined not to pursue any criminal charges.
Regardless, the allegations were so serious that I insisted John King resign from his position as Provo police chief.
Contrary to what has been reported, these are the only two allegations of misconduct that I ever received regarding Chief King. I took both seriously and took decisive action to ensure that any misconduct would be addressed immediately. I never attempted to protect or shield John King or the alleged horrendous actions.
Like others, I have asked myself many times how someone with a background like John King was ever hired as Provo’s chief of police in the first place. In 2013, Provo City contracted with a firm to screen potential candidates for the vacant police chief job. The thorough screening process included a background check, a psychiatric evaluation and a polygraph examination. A seven-member hiring committee, which I was not a part of, interviewed the finalists for the job and described John King as an “outstanding” candidate. After that recommendation, references were checked and I even personally contacted several others independent of those King had provided. Through all this, I was never made aware of any information that would have led me to suspect that he was a serial sexual offender.26 comments on this story
All that being said, it is clear that he had been accused of sexual harassment by female co-workers while working for other police departments, and somehow, we missed those warning signs. It is a shame to me that his former employers failed to report these allegations to us, and that our own careful vetting processes failed as well.
As mayor, I believe I tried my best to respond to these allegations. I ask my friends, neighbors and constituents to not judge me solely on a mischaracterization of my involvement in this heartbreaking situation.
I have and continue to be fully committed to transparency and accessibility to all those who I represent.