ST. GEORGE — A St. George man was arrested Wednesday after he was allegedly caught exposing his genitals to a toddler in a playpen.
The child’s father and mother were attending a meeting in the lobby of an auto shop in St. George, and they reported the alleged incident to police. According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest, their 1-year-old son was in a playpen in an adjacent room where they had a clear view of the child through a window between the two rooms.
During the meeting, the couple told police they noticed 73-year-old Delwyn Bracken, the reported owner of the shop, walk into the adjoining room where he stood directly in front of the playpen, with her son standing and facing the suspect.
According to the statement, the suspect had his shirt partially lifted and his pants were unbuttoned and unzipped. The mother told police that the suspect’s right hand appeared to be making a rubbing motion near his genitals. The mother reported that the child also appeared to be touching the suspect, but she was unable to see which specific area of the man’s body was being touched.
When Bracken realized someone entered the room, the report states that he coughed as he turned to zip up his pants in an adjoining closet. The woman told officers the suspect left the shop when she removed her child from the room.
During an interview with police, Bracken allegedly confirmed he was in the room with the child, explaining that he was making a phone call when he realized he had to urinate. Instead of going down the hallway to use the restroom, the report states that the suspect ended the call and decided to urinate in a bottle or cup while standing directly in front of the playpen.
According to the report, Bracken said he was standing within a few feet of the playpen but never looked at the child, so he was unaware if the toddler was looking at him while he urinated.
When the child’s mother walked into the room, Bracken told police he turned and coughed as he zipped up his pants and faced the closet so he didn’t cough on her. He then told police he left the building and threw the cup or bottle in the dumpster behind the building.
“Bracken initially stated he urinated into a bottle and did not put the lid on the bottle before throwing it in the dumpster,” police wrote in the report. “Bracken later stated he urinated into a white plastic cup. We were unable to find either a cup or a bottle with urine in it in the dumpster.”
When officers reviewed the shop’s surveillance footage, they noted Bracken was not holding anything in his hands when he left the shop and continued towards the dumpster. The mother also told police she did not see anything in his hands when he left the room.
At that point, Bracken was arrested and booked into jail on one class A misdemeanor count of lewdness involving a child. He was released from jail on his own recognizance the following day.
Washington County Attorney Eric Clarke told St. George News that lewdness charges are applied in cases where the evidence does not rise to the level of felony sex abuse of a child.
Clarke said prosecutors review each case and file only those charges they believe they can prove based on the evidence present at the time. He explained that the details in this particular case did not warrant a more serious charge.
Bracken is scheduled to make an initial appearance in 5th District Court on Dec. 10.
Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained.
This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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