Utah authorities say that one year ago Saturday, a Clark County School District employee was masturbating in his office, sending images over the Internet to a viewer he thought to be a 13-year-old girl.
In fact, the "girl" was an adult working with the Iron County, Utah, Sheriff’s Office to snare child molesters.
The case was passed to police in Las Vegas. Eventually, it landed with the school district’s own police department.
One year later, Utah investigators wonder why the man, Darren Boyett, 45, a district accounting coordinator, is still on the job and has never been charged.
"It’s a shame,” said Iron County Sheriff’s Cpl. Nik Johnson, who handled the case. "I wish we could do more, but the only people that can are in Nevada. … If I could, I’d go to Vegas and arrest him myself."
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Johnson said police first identified Boyett after he posed as a 33-year-old Mesquite man using the screen name "braymyfld" and approached police decoy "drama princess444" in a Yahoo chat room called Utah1.
During conversations between Jan. 15 and Feb. 2, "braymyfld" asked about the girl’s sexual history, if she was masturbating and whether she would like to watch him have an orgasm on his webcam.
The contacts all took place after normal work hours on weekdays.
The decoy twice mentioned her age.
The second time, "braymyfld" took notice:
"(Expletive), I missed that, you aren’t supposed to be watching this," he wrote, referring to a camera pointed at his penis. "lol i’m sorry, i missed your age."
He continued: "I just showed you my (expletive) though. and you liked, it. at 13 you liked looking at (expletive)."
He identified himself as "darren" and gave Darren Boyett’s school district phone number and extension to the decoy, according to a Utah police report.
He asked her to call him when her dad was away. The decoy agreed, and they had a brief telephone conversation.
Investigators traced the IP address, which linked to Boyett’s office computer.
Because Johnson did not have jurisdiction to arrest Boyett, the case was given to a Nevada law enforcement agency, which Johnson wouldn’t identify.
The case was then sent to the Clark County School District Police Department, he said.
Last week, Johnson said he learned the school police would not submit the case to the Clark County district attorney’s office, and Boyett would keep his job.
Johnson said that was a surprise, in part because he was told that school police found pornography on Boyett’s office computer.
"I was told they found pornography, but I’m not sure what the nature of it was," Johnson said. "But we’re hearing they found porn and he’s not even going to get terminated."
When contacted on the number in the Utah police report, Boyett said, "I’m not aware of any investigation."
He denied that his work computer had been seized, and declined further comment.
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School officials had little to say about the case on Friday.
School Police Chief Filiberto Arroyo said a federal law enforcement agency brought the case against Boyett to his department, and he believed that agency was handling the criminal investigation.
But Arroyo said he could not say which federal agency was involved, or if the case still was open.
"We can’t do anything since it’s (the alleged crime) crossed state lines," Arroyo said. "As far as we’re participating, it’s currently an active administrative personnel case. I can’t discuss our segment of it."
Arroyo said he never spoke to the Iron County Sheriff’s Office.
"I can only tell you who came to us, and they (Iron County) did not contact us," he said.
Johnson said the case wouldn’t qualify at the federal level because no one actually crossed state lines, and there was no attempt to arrange a meeting between Boyett and the decoy.
"I take a lot of these cases federal, and it wouldn’t qualify,” Johnson said. "They have to meet a certain standard."
He said he isn’t sure why Arroyo would claim the case wasn’t local.
How the case reached school police was irrelevant, he said, because it should have been submitted to district attorneys in any event.
Johnson would not reveal which agency ended up giving the case to school police, but he said the school district was the only agency investigating.
"I just know they (school police) ended up with it, and that’s where it died," Johnson said.
A school district spokesman confirmed that Boyett, who has been an accountant for the district since 2005, is still employed there.
The spokesman said he could not comment on personnel matters, or say if Boyett had been disciplined.
Pornography on work computers can lead to dismissal, school officials said, but that depends on specific circumstances.
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Ron Bloxham, a Clark County chief deputy district attorney for more than 30 years, screens cases for possible charges when they are submitted by police.
When asked about the case , he said it appears there was enough evidence for it to be submitted to prosecutors, possibly for a gross misdemeanor charge for open and gross lewdness.
There probably isn’t enough evidence to meet the state’s "luring" statute, however, which must involve a meeting or an arranged meeting between two parties, he said.
That charge can be a felony if a minor is involved.
"I’m surprised it wasn’t submitted to us," Bloxham said. "It should have come in for analysis, in my personal opinion."
Chief Deputy District Attorney James Sweetin, who oversees the special victims unit, agreed with Bloxham after examining the Iron County, Utah, police reports .
Sweetin said he would want to know more about the investigation, including what was found on Boyett’s school computer.
"From cursory readings, there are some potential charges that could be brought,” Sweetin said. "I would want additional information on how everything went down, besides what is laid out there" in the police report.
The sequence of events as described by Arroyo doesn’t make a lot of sense, he said.
Sweetin said it’s possible that federal authorities are investigating because they have jurisdiction over Internet crimes.
But a local agency will normally submit charges first to local prosecutors because their federal counterparts are notoriously slow, he said.
"If they eventually decide they want it, we make a determination on which agency would be more appropriate," he said.
Johnson said the case can’t be tried in Utah because his agency used decoys from Perverted Justice, a national organization that specializes in Internet stings.
Because the decoy was based in another state, Utah authorities can’t show that a crime happened in their jurisdiction, he said.
That won’t happen next time, he said, because Iron County now uses locally based decoys.
In Utah, an adult involved in a similar incident could face felony charges, he said.
Beyond any criminal investigation, Johnson said he was disturbed Boyett is still free and on the job a full year after the investigation began.
"If this guy was working in a school where my kids go, I’d be a little freaked out knowing that they (school officials) know about it and did nothing," Johnson said.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283.