St. George man receives prison sentence in sexual assault case

ST. GEORGE — A St. George man appeared before Judge Eric Ludlow in Washington County’s Fifth District court on Tuesday and was sentenced to prison for an incident that occurred in May 2013.

Rodger William Kelly, St. George, Utah, March 25, 2014 | Photo Courtesy of Washington County Sheriff, St. George News
Rodger William Kelly, St. George, Utah, March 25, 2014 | Photo Courtesy of Washington County Sheriff, St. George News

Rodger William Kelly, 50, was sentenced to 1-15 years at the Utah State Prison. Kelly had pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony charge of forcible sexual abuse on Jan. 10, 2014.

According to the probable cause statement, the charge stems from an incident on May 19, 2013, when St. George Police responded to an unconscious person call at 1366 West Indian Hills Drive. When police arrived, they found Kelly giving CPR to a unconscious 29-year-old woman. The woman was transported to the hospital where she was eventually revived.

Kelly told police that he saw the woman laying on the porch of an adjacent apartment when he returned home at about 6:30 a.m. Thinking that she had been kicked out of her apartment for drinking, Kelly told police he picked her up and took her to his apartment. After getting her to his apartment, he said that the woman was unresponsive so he called 911 and began CPR, the statement said.

When police interviewed the woman at the hospital,  she told police that she believed that Kelly had raped her.

On June 7, 2013, police questioned Kelly and he told them that he had changed her clothing, put her on his bed and laid next to her in order to “get her temperature up because she had been outside in the early morning.” Kelly then admitted to police that he had sex with her, but said he did so to get her temperature up, that he was trying to save her life, the statement said.

Kelly told police that he had had sex with the woman previously, but she had sent him a text message on May 18, 2013, telling Kelly they should not have sex again, according to the statement.

During the sentencing hearing, Kelly’s defense attorney, Ryan Stout, introduced two letters from family members that Judge Eric Ludlow read.

Testifying for the defense was Christian Warmsley, who said he was a licensed private investigator. Warmsley said he had known Kelly for over 10 years and was a close friend of Kelly’s brother. Kelly had gone through ups and downs, but Warmsley said prior to this incident, he had observed Kelly going to AA meetings and he was trying his best to turn his life around. Warmsley acknowledged the seriousness of the offense, however he told Ludlow he believed Kelly deserved some leniency because in Kelly’s mind he believed he was helping the woman.

Arguing for jail and probation instead of prison, Stout told Ludlow that Kelly understood that what he did was wrong, but in all actually Kelly did save the woman’s life.

“If he had ignored her when he found her, things would have turned out very different. Number one; he wouldn’t be facing a prison sentence, he wouldn’t be in jail and number two;  she would be dead, there is no question about it,” Stout said.

Kelly told Ludlow that he had written a letter of apology to the victim and was sorry for what had happened.

“I have been involved in the criminal justice system since 1987…a total of 27 years and I’ll be honest with you I have never heard such an implausible and quite frankly ridiculous explanation as you came up with in this case,” Ludlow told Kelly.

Senior Deputy Washington County Attorney Brian Filter said the victim was not present in the courtroom and acknowledge she had struggled with her own issues. The victim may have died, Filter said, if Kelly had not intervened, but “like so many things in life, the bad action outweighs the good,” he said.

Citing Kelly’s past history of prison terms for robbery and felony DUI, as well as the egregious nature of this offense, Ludlow said he could not overlook those factors in pronouncing the maximum penalty.

After the hearing, Filter told St. George News  that he believed justice had been served with the prison sentence.

A brother, Mitchell Kelly, also agreed with the sentence, “It hurts, that’s my brother, I love him, I don’t understand it either, at the same time I understand where the judge is coming from,” he said.

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1 Comment

  • Jon R. Cocktoasten March 25, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Bringing her temperature up??? WOW! I’m so glad we have a Judge like Judge Ludlow who can see past the crazy arguments of suspects and their attorneys! Good job on SGPD for getting this scum to confess what he did!!! That is all!

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