Utah bill would bring ID-based age verification to online platforms

A state lawmaker in Utah has introduced a bill that would require teens to get parental consent before they can use social media. The bill would require handing over more personal information to check the age of platform users.

This week, State Sen. Mike McKell introduced SB 152, a bill that would require social media platforms to not only verify age but also require children under the age of 18 to get a parent’s approval before creating a social media account.

We obtained a copy of the bill for you here.

The bill calls for users of platforms to show a valid driver’s license, a birth certificate, a currently valid passport, or a currently valid identification card or certificate.

The bill would also allow parents to have access to their child’s social media accounts.

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Utah official ‘apologizes’ after video reveals him pressuring police to release lawfully arrested son

A San Juan County Commissioner is “apologizing” after bodycam footage revealed him pressuring police to release his lawfully arrested son.

“It appeared to me that [Bruce Adams] was trying to use his influence as a County Commissioner to intimidate me into showing information that I was not permitted to do,” San Juan Sheriff’s Deputy Wyatt Holyoak said, per KUTV’s reporting.

Bodycam footage shows Bruce Adams’ disturbing interaction with San Juan County Sheriff’s Deputy Wyatt Holyoak following a November 25, 2022, traffic stop, KUTV reported.

Earlier in the evening, Deputy Brayden Giddings pulled over Bruce Adams’ son, Kenneth Adams, for failing to stop at a stop sign and failing to signal. Additional officers came to the scene after the deputy discovered Kenneth Adams had an outstanding warrant, the validity of which Kenneth Adams disputed. Kenneth then phoned his parents, the outlet notes.

Deputy Wyatt Holyoak, also at the scene, next suggests Kenneth Adams’ car be released to his parents, per the footage.

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First-of-its-kind ‘weapons detection system’ planned for Utah schools

The Salt Lake City School District in Utah plans to install the system at East, West and Highland High Schools. The Granite District is also planning a “pilot” system at Hunter High, which was stunned by the shooting deaths of two students near the school a year ago.

All of the new security measures could be in place in a matter of months, or possibly weeks.

“I think that’s a good start,“ said Joann Seybold, the grandmother of a student, adding the shootings are still on the minds of the school community. Last January, a teen shot and killed students and injured a third.

Deborah Servis, whose granddaughter attends Hunter, said it would be “wonderful” to have a new weapons detection system.

“We knew of one of the kids who was shot last year,” she said, “who is still recovering.”

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Mysterious Antennas Are Appearing in Utah’s Hills and Officials Are Stumped

Strange antennas have appeared in the foothills around Salt Lake City and authorities have no idea what they are or who put them up.

As first reported by KSLTV 5 in Utah, people first began noticing the antennas a year ago. They’re simple machines made up of a LoRa fiberglass antenna, a locked battery pack, and a solar panel to power it. The Salt Lake City public lands department has been pulling them down as they find them, and told KSLTV that there have been as many as a dozen.

It’s illegal to place structures on public lands without permission and some of the antennas have appeared on steep peaks. In one instance, the removal of an antenna required a team of five people. Other antennas were found on land managed by the University of Utah and the Forest Service.

Tyler Fonarow, Salt Lake City’s recreational trails manager, told Motherboard that when the antennas were first noticed a year ago, “We didn’t really have the bandwidth to look into it or remove them,” he said.

Fonarow said that there were no identifying marks on the antennas and that they’d been bolted into the stone and required special tools to remove. “We honestly didn’t even open the box,” he said. “We just wanted it off the hill.”

“Our Trails team and Foothills rangers have found some unauthorized solar panel towers in the Foothills,” Salt Lake City Public Lands said in a post on Facebook. “If you have information about these towers or who they belong to, please call our office at (801) 972-7800 so we can return them back to their owner.”

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First arrest made in Utah County ritualistic child sex abuse investigation

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a suspect in an ongoing ritualistic child sex abuse investigation.

Former therapist David Hamblin, 68, was previously charged with 18 counts of sexual assault. He was taken into custody Wednesday morning and booked on the following:

  • 3 counts of sodomy on a child
  • Rape of a child
  • 2 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child
  • Lewdness involving a child

According to records obtained by FOX 13 News, Hamblin had previously confessed to sexually assaulting at least one of his female family members in an undercover phone recording.

“I am sorry for raping you,” Hamblin reportedly said. “I’m not saying it isn’t true… I’m not saying somebody in my body didn’t do it.”

The Utah County Attorney’s Office dropped all charges.

Hamblin lost his license and was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In an interview with FOX 13 News in April, alleged victim Brett Bluth described a long period of abuse and grooming by Hamblin as he tried to “heal” Bluth of his homosexuality.

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State Lawmaker Advised Mormon Bishop Against Reporting Church Member Who Sexually Abused Daughters, Lawsuit Filings Say

Utah state representative told a Mormon bishop not to report a church member’s sexual abuse, advice that led to seven years of rape and abuse committed by the church member against his own daughters, according to new lawsuit documents.

State Rep. Merrill Nelson (R-UT), a prominent lawyer for the Mormon church, allegedly answered the first call from a help line when Bishop John Herrod told him that Arizona church member Paul Adams had admitted to sexually abusing two of his daughters. For more than two years, Nelson communicated with Herrod and another bishop who knew about the abuse allegations, according to call records, the Associated Press reported.

Nelson told Herrod “that he could be sued if he reported, and the instruction by counsel not to report Paul [Adams] to the authorities was the law in Arizona and had nothing to do with Church doctrine,” according to the plaintiff’s filings. However, as the AP reported, Arizona law allows blanket immunity for those who report child sexual abuse or neglect.

The sex abuser’s two daughters and one of his sons are trying to gain access to records from the Mormon church, but the church has refused them based on confidentiality. After a county judge ruled in the victims’ favor to see the records, the Mormon church took the case to the Court of Appeals.

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Utah FBI employee charged with sexually abusing multiple children

A man who works for the Federal Bureau of Investigation was arrested last week and charged with molesting multiple children.

Robert Alexander Smith, 65, faces four 1st-degree felony counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, four class-A misdemeanor counts of lewdness involving a child, and two class-B misdemeanor counts of lewdness.

According to court documents, Smith was arrested after a young girl told her mom in June that she wanted to talk about something “very uncomfortable.” She said that on multiple occasions, Smith had forced her to touch him inappropriately under his clothes in 2020.

Interviews were then conducted with the girl, as well as four other girls who said Smith had engaged with them in inappropriate ways. One of the girls said Smith forced her to do the same thing as he did with the first victim, and three other girls said Smith had touched them inappropriately under their clothing.

The arrest report states that Smith “occupied a position of special trust as it pertains to the victims in this case.”

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Utah County: 120 Come Forward with Information in ‘Ritualistic Child Sexual Abuse’ Investigation

An investigation into “ritualistic child sexual abuse” has continued to turn heads after 120 victims and those who know victims have come forward, a Utah sheriff reported. A local prosecutor was reportedly named in the probe during a May 31 press conference, though the sheriff’s office has not released names of potential victims or suspects.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Department has asked for assistance in the investigation from the FBI, which it has received. “It’s common practice for the FBI to offer assistance, when requested, to our law enforcement partners. We are assisting, and so I will defer to the lead agency, which is the Utah County Sheriff’s Office,” said FBI spokeswoman Sandra Barker.

“I don’t know the exact number, but it is now over 120 people who have contacted us. [Of that number], I am sure. There are likely more than 120 at this point,” Sgt. Spencer Cannon told The Epoch Times.

The 120 figure is comprised of both victims and people who know victims, Cannon said.

According to the department, the alleged abuse took place between 1990 and 2010. The Utah County Sheriff’s office previously announced the investigation — which has been underway since April 2021 — in a May 31 press release.

The department detailed its investigation into “ritualistic sexual abuse and child sex trafficking” in Utah’s second largest county. In addition, law enforcement uncovered similar instances in neighboring Juab County and Sanpete County during the same period.

Utah County Attorney David Leavitt was reportedly among those named in the probe.

Leavitt has denied the allegations and described one of the alleged victims as “tragically mentally ill” after the May 31 press release. “I learned that my wife and I were part of those allegations, allegedly that we were guilty of cannibalizing young children, and murdering young children,” Leavitt said before denying the allegations.

The prosecutor has also criticized the handling of the investigation by Sheriff Mike Smith and has accused him of conducting a politically motivated “witch hunt” in an election year.

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Utah Ritualized Sexual Abuse Investigation: Is There a History of Ritual Abuse in Utah?

As the Utah primary draws near, the investigation into “ritualized child sexual abuse” has garnered more than 120 tips related to claims of ritualistic sex rings. Let’s examine the history of these allegations in Utah.

In the nearly 4 weeks since the Utah County Sheriff’s Office announced an investigation into allegations of “ritualized child sexual abuse” in three Utah counties, they have received more than 120 tips in the form of phone calls, texts, and emails. UCSO Public Information Officer Sgt. Spencer Cannon told the Salt Lake Tribune that the office has “pulled in” sergeants with experience in sex assault cases to help review the information.

The Last American Vagabond (TLAV) has been following the unusual situation since May 31st when the Utah County Sheriff’s Office announced they were working with multiple county and federal agencies investigating reports of ritualistic child sexual abuse from as far back as 1990. The Sheriff’s Office said the investigation began in April 2021. The investigation subsequently discovered previous reports alleging “similar forms of ritualistic sexual abuse and trafficking” that occurred in Utah County, Juab County, and Sanpete County during the time between 1990 and 2010.

Following the  announcement of this investigation by Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt held a press conference where he shared a 151-page document titled “victim statement” related to a 2012 case involving allegations of sexual abuse of children. Leavitt and several other people are named in the statement as being involved with a group practicing ritual child sex abuse. He claimed the Sheriff’s investigation was a political attack on him related to the June 28th primary elections in Utah.

As TLAV reported last week, courtroom records revealed that Utah County Attorney David Leavitt lied when he said the 2012 case was dismissed by his predecessor because it was “unbelievable,” lacking evidence, and the story of a “tragically mentally ill” woman.

The Salt Lake Tribune has also reported that USCO Sgt. Cannon said the report that Leavitt was referencing was not what started the sheriff’s investigation last year. “We had a victim come forward and disclose abuse of this nature,” Cannon told the SLT. “And so that’s what started our investigation. The case that David Leavitt spoke about is not the case we initially started investigating. It’s not the case that we became aware of in April of last year.”

Cannon did acknowledge that the detectives became aware of the 2012 case and the allegations against therapist David Lee Hamblin, but did not say if the case was part of the current investigation.

As Utahans prepare to vote in the primary on June 28th — a race in which both Sheriff Mike Smith and Utah County Attorney David Leavitt are both up for re-election — we wait to see if there will be any additional announcements, indictments, subpoenas or any official action taken.

To better understand this current investigation, we have examined hundreds of pages of Utah government documents, articles, and allegations of ritualized sexual abuse to paint a picture of this history.

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Signed as Law: Utah Expands Limits on Drone Surveillance

On Monday, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill into law expanding state limits on government drone surveillance. The legislation will not only establish important privacy protections at the state level; it will also help thwart the federal surveillance state.

Rep. Ryan Wilcox (R) introduced House Bill 259 (HB259) on Jan. 28. In 2014, Utah passed a law requiring police to get a warrant before conducting drone surveillance in most situations. HB259 clarifies that the law applies “to any imaging surveillance device, as defined in Section 77-23d-102 when used in conjunction with an unmanned aircraft system.” This includes “radar, sonar, infrared, or other remote sensing or detection technology.”

In effect, the enactment of HB259 clarifies that this type of technology cannot be used in conjunction with a drone without a warrant.

The Senate passed HB259 by a 23-0 vote. The House approved the measure by a vote of 70-0. With Gov. Cox’s signature, the law goes into effect May 4.

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