ST. GEORGE — Not all media coverage concerning well-known figures in the community is always pleasant. Both they and their family members can be prone to the media catching something questionable, such as creating some sort of public scene or being arrested. On Wednesday the latter happened to the husband of a state Senate candidate and perhaps one of the best known Democrats in the county.
Wednesday afternoon didn’t hold the most pleasant of surprises for Dorothy Engelman when a St. George Police officer knocked on her door. The officer asked for her husband, Gary, and she originally thought the officer wanted to speak to him about some recurring parking issues.
“(The officer) asked to see my husband and as the afternoon progressed and he spoke to (Gary), I became aware that there had been an incident with some shoplifting,” Dorothy Engelman told St. George News Thursday.
Gary Engelman appeared on the Washington County Sheriff’s bookings page Wednesday with two class-B misdemeanor charges related to retail theft and receiving stolen property. The charges apparently stem from the theft of FPV, or first-person view, goggles from Custom Drone and Hobby in St. George.
This wasn’t the first incident, shop owner Dave Amodt said. While at the Washington County Fair a couple days prior to the theft at the store, a pair of FMV goggles disappeared from the hobby shop’s booth at the fair.
“That kind of ruined our weekend,” Amodt said.
After looking at surveillance footage following the theft at the store, Amodt said he noticed the man was wearing a T-shirt related to Dorothy Engelman’s senate campaign. From there, they found the man’s photo on Facebook and Amodt recognized him as a man he had seen at a nearby booth at the fair. The police subsequently became involved.
“That’s very, very out of character for Gary,” Dorothy Engelman said, adding she was overwhelmed by the news. However, she also said, the only reason the incident is getting attention from media at all is because of who she is.
See video of in-studio interview with Dorothy Engelman at the top of this report
“The only reason that we’re having this discussion right now is that I’m running for state office and I have a fairly high profile in the community,” she said. “If he were ‘Gary Jones,’ we wouldn’t be sitting here.”
As to how her husband’s actions may reflect on herself and her campaign, Dorothy Engelman said she believed it wouldn’t have a negative impact.
“I think our educated voters here realize I’m a separate person,” she said.
If anything, Dorothy Engelman said, the incident allows some light to be shed on the potential effects depression can have on someone. She shared that her husband has dealt with depression for many years and recently was put on a new medication. He also started seeing a therapist in June to help with the issue.
While she wasn’t excusing what had happened, Dorothy Engelman said the depression has been a longstanding issue and that it is being addressed.
Dr. David Tate, the psychologist Gary Engelman is seeing, said there could be a potential connection between his client’s depression and the shoplifting, yet that it did not justify the action by any means.
“When someone is depressed like Gary is, there is a greater susceptibility to poor judgment (and) sometimes to impulsive behaviors,” Tate said. “… He is struggling with depression and has for some time. He struggled with it before he came to see me. Gratefully, he is getting help.”
Tate said he hopes his client sees this incident as a wake-up call.
“Hopefully that will be the case, but I do think, yes, people are more susceptible when they’re depressed to poor judgment and sometimes impulsive behaviors,” Tate said. “I think it probably did contribute to this; but again, I’m not making an excuse for it in the sense that it’s something that’s wrong.”
According to a study published in the February 2000 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 30 percent of first-time offenders were clinically depressed.
“I’ve been having problems with depression. Even more so the last month or two,” Gary Engleman said. “I did something really stupid. I’m terribly ashamed of that and terribly embarrassed. Most of all, I feel really bad for letting down somebody that I love and who depended on me and supported me.”
At the time, Gary Engelman said, he was angry over a lot of issues that seemingly compounded things. He was having issues with the homeowners association he and Dorothy lived in over parking on the street where he supposedly could not. He said he’s been ticketed over the matter by the police as well as fined by his HOA for the same reason.
“I was angry over a number of issues and I just did something stupid, something compulsive,” he said. “I have no excuse for doing it. I was wrong.”
Due to his actions, Gary Engelman said he worries it will reflect poorly on his wife in the eyes of the public.
“The thing that aggravates me the most is that people will judge Dorothy on my actions, and they shouldn’t do that. She’s a very fine person,” he said. “She does a really good job. She’s never been involved in anything like this before. I’ve let her down terribly.”
Dorothy Engelman said she and her husband will work through the issue and move forward. And as stated before, she doesn’t believe this incident will have much of an affect on her campaign overall.
“I don’t think this will cause people to vote for me or not vote for me,” she said. “… I will carry on with (the campaign) and (Gary) will be a support there for me and we will support each other. That’s what marriages are. It’s supporting each other in sickness and in health, for rich or poor.”
Dorothy Engelman is currently running for state Senate District 29 on the Democratic ticket against Republican candidate Don Ipson, who currently represents House District 75. Both put their hats in the race following Sen. Steve Urquhart’s announcement earlier this year that he was retiring from the Senate.
Engelman previously ran for House District 74 in 2014 against Republican incumbent Rep. Lowry Snow who ultimately retained his seat with 75 percent of the vote. She also served as the chair of the Washington County Democrat Party prior to running for state office.
Engelman currently serves as the executive director of the Erin Kimball Foundation, a nonprofit that helps provide assistance and transitional housing for the survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
St. George Assistant Editor Paul Dail and Senior Reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this post.
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