KINGMAN – Mohave County is close to hiring an investigator to look into problems in polygamous Colorado City.
On Monday, County Attorney Matt Smith said that a decision was made to hire an investigator on Friday but that the man must pass a background check.
Smith said the investigator, who likely will be hired this week, will look mainly into reports of child sexual abuse and sexual conduct with minors.
Another possible facet of the investigation is crimes associated with the state’s new child bigamy statute.
In bigamy cases, Smith said it’s usually necessary for the victim, such as a second spouse, to come forward. But in case of child bigamy, the state doesn’t necessarily need a witness.
Smith said if a man has fathered a child with a minor and is married to the woman the state can prosecute without testimony from the minor.
Sheriff Tom Sheahan said the Mohave County Sheriff’s office is now investigating child sexual abuse in Colorado City. Previously, the Colorado City town marshal’s office handled the investigations.
Sheahan and Smith said the change came about as a consensus between the sheriff, county attorney and state Department of Economic Security.
The first case since the sheriff’s office began investigating Colorado City sex abuse cases is now in Mohave County Superior Court. Nephi Draper, 30, had a case management hearing before Judge Steven Conn on Monday.
Draper is accused of fondling the breasts of a 15- or 16-year-old girl and is charged with sexual abuse of a child, Smith said.
Sheahan said Utah is investigating Colorado City Town Marshal Sam Roundy’s POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certification. Roundy is being investigated to see whether he has multiple wives, which is against Utah and Arizona law.
The POST certification of former Hildale, Utah/Colorado City police officer Rodney Holm was revoked last year by Utah.
The revocation came two months after he was convicted of two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old girl and one count of bigamy.
The case against Holm was the first to target a polygamist within an organized religious polygamist community since the raids on Short Creek (now known as Colorado City) in 1953, and originated from a custody battle between Holm and the victim, Ruth Stubbs, Holm’s third “wife.”
Roundy insists Stubbs’ parents consented to the marriage and has criticized Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff for the prosecution of Holm, a report by a Utah television station stated.
An initial investigation by Utah officials showed that several officers, including Roundy, failed last year to complete the 40 hours of training required annually for an officer to remain certified. Their certifications were temporarily revoked but later reinstated.
Investigations of the department will continue and evidence of an officer practicing polygamy will be brought before the board. That person will have the choice of accepting revocation or taking the matter to a hearing before an administrative law judge, Shurtleff said recently.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.