Ex-sheriff’s deputy pleads no contest in sexual misconduct case

ST. GEORGE – A former Washington County Sheriff’s deputy pleaded no contest in court Wednesday to charges related to sexual misconduct involving female inmates at the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.

Steven Garrett Thayer, 29, appeared with attorney Gary Pendleton in 5th District Court in St. George Wednesday to enter “no contest” pleas on three class A misdemeanor charges of custodial sexual misconduct as a part of a plea deal. Though he didn’t plead guilty, Thayer acknowledged through the no-contest plea that the state had sufficient evidence for a potential conviction if taken to trial.

Steven G. Thayer, Washington County, Utah, October 2013 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News
Steven G. Thayer, booking photo posted October 2013 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Thayer originally faced seven class A misdemeanors; four were dismissed through the plea deal. Deputy Washington County Attorney Zachary Weiland said those charges were ones the state “could prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”

A felony charge that was on the original list of offenses was dropped in December while the state and prosecution worked out preliminary details of the eventual plea agreement.

In addition to the dismissal of the four charges, the state recommended Thayer serve no more than 60 days in the Iron County Jail, be placed on probation and submit to a psycho-sexual evaluation in lieu of a fine.

Judge G. Michael Westfall reminded Thayer that he didn’t have to abide by the sentencing recommendation of the state, and that he could impose the maximum penalties attached to the misdemeanors if he felt appropriate. He could also order the sentences for each charge to be served consecutively, which could lead to three years in jail.

A sentencing hearing was scheduled for April 1 at 9:30 a.m.

Since the victims were not incarcerated minors, Pendleton said, Thayer wouldn’t be required by law to register as a sex offender in this case.

Thayer was arrested and charged in October 2013 after accusations arose that he, then serving as a sheriff’s deputy working at the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility, had engaged in inappropriate sexual relations with some female inmates.

He was one of the guards who would routinely check in on the inmates,” Weiland said.

Two female inmates who shared a cell in a block Thayer checked reported multiple incidents involving the ex-deputy. Thayer later admitted to some of the encounters while being interviewed by investigators.

“We want to make sure this this type of behavior never, ever happens again,” Weiland said.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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17 Comments

  • native born new mexican February 18, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Can you say special privilege? Law enforcement never fails to protect their own. What sort of charges, Jail time and fines would the rest of us be facing and sentenced to? Is there any doubt why courts and law enforcement in this country are not respected and trusted. Here is the reason in black and white print, No fines, No felonies, only sixty days in the Iron county jail and no having to register as a sex offender. I didn’t even read that he got any probation time. Wow what a deal! Perks of the job I guess.

    • fun bag February 18, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      I was gonna say he’s probly part of the ol’ boy network. He may also we a worthy and paying member… not sure. Would he still get to keep his recommend?

      • ladybugavenger February 18, 2015 at 9:01 pm

        Koolaid? LOL

        • Mesaizacd February 18, 2015 at 11:06 pm

          Yep that was KOOLAID.!

      • native born new mexican February 18, 2015 at 10:43 pm

        Fun bag what does church membership have to do with this? I didn’t mention it and I didn’t see it mentioned any where in the article. Seems like you are deliberately getting off the topic. Why don’t you do some research and tell us all where or if he goes to church. Unless you know that answer don’t be bringing the subject up.

        • fun bag February 19, 2015 at 9:11 am

          Don’t be naive, little boy. Around these parts it has everything to do with it. Sometimes it gets them away with much worse crimes, including murder.

  • ladybugavenger February 18, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Really???? Doesn’t have to register as a sex offender???? Not more than 60 days???? I say special privilidge. Four charges dropped that the state could prove??? And they recommend no more than 60 days??? ( worth repeating)

  • girvine February 18, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    wow really? I think you need to get the rest of the story. You judge by what the media is saying and sounds like you are a mormon hater too or at least have no clue how it all works……if they would have protected him this wouldn’t even go public and perks what perks? and what job?

    • ladybugavenger February 18, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      Tell us the rest of the story Girvine.

    • Mesaizacd February 18, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      Wow you sound like a hater of non Mormon people

    • fun bag February 19, 2015 at 9:13 am

      he pretty well got away with it. he will re-offend, I guarantee it.

  • rawginald February 19, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    I think you are all reading more into this article than there is. He was charged with sexual misconduct. It doesn’t say he forced sex on the women or even that he used his position to coheres them to have sex with him. He lost his job, which he should and it says he may get 60 days in jail. Now tell me how many people that get caught having sex in the back room at work are convicted of a crime, I mean really, they lose there job at the most, I’m not saying he shouldn’t get charged with a crime since he was having sex with someone he was supposed to be guarding and in a position of authority. but if the sex was consensual why should he get more? He probably won’t be able to have a job in law enforcement so how can he re-offend

    • Mesaizacd February 19, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      Ever ask yourself if we even care what you think.? Your comment is nothing but another opinion and that’s all it is

    • Mike February 19, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Not reading more into it, he did get off easy. The term is “Rape under Color of Authority”. There is no such thing as “consensual sex” in this situation. Like a juvenile, those in custody are not in a position to give consent. It is not like getting caught having sex in the back room with a coworker. Law enforcement is different; they are indeed held to a higher standard.

  • Mesaizacd February 19, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Fundraiser.!

    • sagemoon February 20, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Hmm, I think I’ll pass on this fundraiser.

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