CEDAR CITY – Authorities released a Cedar City man from jail Tuesday after the alleged victim admitted he had lied to police.
The Iron County Attorney’s Office dismissed the proposed charges against Jared Michael Tucker, who had been arrested for allegations he had sexually abused a 16-year-old male. Police have since learned the accusing male is really 19 years old.
Tucker was first booked into the Iron County Correctional Facility Sept. 3 with $50,000 cash bail required.
At the time, Tucker faced one second-degree felony for forcible sexual abuse of a child and three third-degree felonies that included two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old minor and one count of enticing a minor over the internet.
The county attorney moved to have the case thrown out after Tucker’s alleged victim, Andrew John Blodgett-Bennie, recently admitted he lied to authorities about his age, according to Cedar City Police Sgt. Jimmy Roden.
Blodgett-Bennie has since provided police with evidence supporting his real age of 19.
“We take it very seriously when people are accused of a crime they didn’t commit,” Roden said. “That’s why he’s (Blodgett-Bennie) in jail and we have charged him with what we believe are the appropriate offenses.”
Cedar City Police were called Sept. 1 to investigate allegations Tucker, 38, had sexually abused Blodgett-Bennie after the two met via a phone app for gay singles.
Blodgett-Bennie told police he and Tucker met on two different occasions where they engaged in sex. The second time, he said, Tucker offered him $100 for sex via a text message, according to court documents.
The alleged minor – now determined to not be a minor – agreed to the meeting where, authorities said, Tucker allegedly took “indecent liberties” with him. The incident as alleged resulted in the forcible sex abuse charge.
According to charging documents, Tucker allegedly admitted to having sex with Blodgett-Bennie but said he thought he was 19 years old.
Cedar City Police Det. Mike Bleak wrote in the court document at the time that the alleged victim “appeared to be much younger than his actual 16 years of age.”
Blodgett-Bennie told investigators multiple times then that he was only 16, Roden said. He also said he had never obtained a state ID after moving to Utah.
Investigators also reportedly verified Blodgett-Bennie’s age with his alleged guardian who reiterated the same. In addition, the defendant signed a court affidavit claiming to be 16 years old.
Blodgett-Bennie was arrested Tuesday and booked into jail. He faces charges for filing a false police report, a Class B misdemeanor, providing false personal information to a police officer, a Class C misdemeanor, and providing a false court document, a Class A misdemeanor. His bail is unknown.
Officials are still investigating the case, Bleak said.
Ed note: This report supersedes and replaces St. George News earlier reports on Tucker’s arrest.
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