School officials defend actions in probe of porn allegations


Stating a desire to "shed light" on claims that Clark County School District police failed to investigate an employee's alleged sexual improprieties, district officials on Thursday said the issues were fully investigated and the case was sent to the district attorney's office, which declined to prosecute.

In response, Clark County District Attorney David Roger said his office never received the case and was not involved.

The case dates to January 2010 when sheriff's deputies in Iron County, Utah, staged an Internet sting to snare predators looking for sex with children. According to the police report, a man contacted a decoy pretending to be a 13-year-old girl, engaged in lewd chat room exchanges and sent images of himself masturbating.

Utah authorities determined that the man was using a Clark County School District computer and telephone assigned to Darren Boyett, 45, a district accounting coordinator.

Because of a jurisdictional issue, the case was turned over to the school district's own Police Department in March.

In an article published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Sunday, an Iron County deputy criticized school police because a year had passed with no apparent action.

School district Police Chief Filiberto Arroyo responded to criticism from the Utah investigator who handled the case, saying the criminal investigation was the responsibility of a federal agency he could not name.

School District officials announced Thursday that school police thoroughly investigated the alleged misconduct described in the Utah police report passed on to them by a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, who had received it from Iron County.

Utah authorities say the ICE agent was not involved in the investigation but was just delivering the file.

"The District takes allegations very seriously and investigates them thoroughly. An investigation into the allegations about a CCSD employee was conducted, and the appropriate action was taken," according to a written statement provided by Michael Rodriguez, the district's spokesman.

The district said school police met with "several" deputy district attorneys in September or October who "determined there was insufficient evidence to attribute the misconduct to the CCSD employee" and they "did not pursue charges based on the evidence reviewed at that time."

District officials declined to name those prosecutors.

Roger said it's possible an investigator informally contacted a deputy attorney for advice, but that's not the same as submitting a case for criminal charges.

"Typically, law enforcement submits packages to us with reports, statements, and we enter it and submit a case assessment for a review," Roger said. "We do that because it's important to take a look at all information. At times police neglect to list everything in an affidavit, and at times further investigating might be appropriate."

Roger said he did not know who, if anyone, school investigators spoke with.

"If they wanted an opinion on whether the case was prosecutable, they're required to submit reports to us," he said.

While Roger said his office has no record of any written report being submitted or any contact on the case in the fall, the school police did call this week.

Roger said school police called Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Bloxham on Tuesday to say they would submit the case for review.

A spokeswoman for Roger's office said no case was submitted by Thursday, when the district issued its statement that: "There was no direct evidence that implicated the suspected employee to the original allegations.''

Last week, Bloxham and another chief deputy district attorney with experience in these cases told the Review-Journal that the case might qualify for a gross misdemeanor.

One prosecutor reviewed the Iron County police report, provided to him by the Review-Journal, and said it might qualify for a charge of open and gross lewdness, depending on what the school police investigation uncovered.

Utah police say they identified Boyett after they say he posed as a 33-year-old Mesquite man using the screen name "braymyfld" and approached police decoy "drama princess444" in Yahoo's Utah1 chat room.

During conversations between Jan. 15 and Feb. 2, "braymyfld" asked about the girl's sexual history, whether she was masturbating and whether she would like to see him have an orgasm on his webcam.

He identified himself as "darren" and gave Darren Boyett's school district phone number and extension to the decoy, according to the Utah police report. Minutes later, the decoy called that number and had a brief telephone conversation with a man, the report said.

The district said Thursday that investigators could not prove Boyett was in the office at the time of the chats, which took place after hours on weekdays.

While Utah authorities traced the chat messages to the unique Internet Protocol address for a computer at the district's Sahara Avenue office building where Boyett works, district officials said Thursday that they could not link the IP address to a district computer. They speculated that someone near the building could have accessed the district's wireless network.

Someone close to the building "with the proper password, which is well-known, can use the CCSD wireless network," the release said.

District officials did not respond when asked whether a nonemployee could have used Boyett's name and desk phone for the explicit chats, or whether someone else could have answered Boyett's office phone.

Speaking in general terms about IP address traces, Metropolitan Police Department's computer forensics lab Detective Paul Ehlers said IT networks usually record which computers are linked to an IP address. Even if the IP address was a "rolling" IP address, which constantly changes, records from that night should identify the computer used, he said.

"For example, if it was Cox (Communications), we would subpoena Cox and get a warrant to see who was using this address at this given date and time," he said.

District officials did not respond to questions about their network's IP address assignment, or whether records were obtained for the nights in question.

The district did say Boyett's computer was monitored and seized in March, but no evidence of a crime was found.

Ehlers, again speaking in general terms from his experience in hard drive searches, said file remnants are often left behind, even if online chats aren't saved by the user.

Finding those remnants can be difficult, however.

District officials did not respond to questions about hard drive searches.

Boyett last week said he had no knowledge of any allegations against him, but on Thursday the district said he was interviewed during its investigation last year, and that the investigation did result in some internal action.

"During the course of the investigation, evidence of other misuse of his work computer by the employee was discovered (e.g., watching YouTube videos and engaging in other personal, but not criminal, activities during work hours),'' the district said. "Those concerns were addressed by the employee's supervisor, and disciplinary action was taken against the employee."

District officials would not say whether they found pornography on the computer, as reported last week by Iron County sheriff's Cpl. Nik Johnson.

On Thursday Johnson said he could no longer comment because school police this week asked him to assist in their investigation, which was now listed as active.

"It's against our department policy to comment on open, active cases we're assisting," he said.

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@review journal.com or 702-383-0283.

 

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