ST. GEORGE – A former youth worker was sentenced in court Thursday for a sex abuse case involving minors.
Diarra Niccole Fields, 29, of St. George, appeared before Judge John Walton in 5th District Court Thursday for sentencing in a 2012 case involving three counts of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse. Fields, who worked at the the Red Rock Canyon School youth treatment center at the time, was accused of sexually abusing and having inappropriate relationships with three male students.
Fields initially denied the accusations, though he later pleaded guilty as a part of a plea deal on March 6, 2014.
The recommended sentence for a second-degree felony is one to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. However, due to “unusual” circumstances surrounding the case, those penalties were waived. Instead, both the prosecution and defense agreed on 36 months supervised probation along with other penalties and restrictions.
“Any normal case would get a prison sentence,” Washington County Deputy Attorney Ryan Shaum said, “but not all cases are alike.”
According to court documents, a 16-year-old boy at the school told his mother of an inappropriate relationship between himself and Fields. Police interviewed the boy soon after and were told he had seen and touched Fields’ genitals. Two other boys, ages 16 and 13, were revealed to have had similar experiences involving Fields.
The interviews and investigation ultimately led to Fields’ arrest in August 2012. At that time, Fields was also listed as the quarterback for the Dixie Rebels semi-pro football team.
As Shaum addressed the court, he said at least two of the three boys and their families were reluctant to see Fields go to prison. For their part, they acknowledged they entered into the situation consensually, he said. However, due to Fields having been in a position of trust with the boys, Shaum said the man also should have known better.
“There was a clear legal line he should have known not to cross,” Shaum said.
Shaum also said that despite the guilty plea, he felt Fields had not yet fully acknowledged his misconduct involving the boys.
Ron Yengich, Fields’ attorney, said the victims would feel badly if Fields went to prison. They felt their action, in part, led to Fields’ current predicament. The victims involved also have their own issues they are still sorting out, he said, and they simply want to put the case behind them.
Fields understood that the consequences for his own actions are severe because of the position of trust, Yengich added. “He believes what he did was wrong,” he said.
Since getting out of jail following his arrest, Fields has avoided contact with minors and is currently getting help from his religious community, Yengich said. He also said Fields didn’t always express himself well, which is why it may appear he hasn’t fully acknowledged his misconduct in the eyes of others.
“He is a very soft-spoken man and comes off as quiet,” Yengich said.
In addition to the 36 months of supervised probation, Fields will serve 210 days in the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility, pay $1,150 in fines and any additional court fees, undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation and have no contact with the victims or their families and no unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18. The defense asked that exceptions be made for Fields’ own children and that he also be allowed to continue working at a grocery store where he would likely come into contact with minors on occasion.
The prosecution had no objection to the exceptions, and Walton passed the sentence. Fields will report to the county jail Monday morning.
“It’s an unusual case, Mr. Fields,” Walton said. “The outcome could have been very different.”
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