Concerned about the welfare of a teenage son, a family hired a private investigator, triggering an inquiry that resulted in the downfall of a veteran Northern Utah police officer.
Brett Ryon Hadley, 39, was terminated in December 2015 from the Harrisville Police Department after an investigation into allegations of sexual improprieties dating back to his time as a school resource officer employed by the Pleasant View Police Department and assigned to Weber High School.
Now, in a case that has involved three police departments, three prosecutor’s offices and two state agencies, Hadley has been sentenced to probation on two misdemeanor offenses and faces the loss of his professional certification.
Key details of the case were learned only this week after six months of conflict over public access to an Ogden Police Department investigative report.
Responding to an open records request by the Standard-Examiner in March, Ogden City withheld the bulk of the report, having classified it as private and citing an invasion of privacy of alleged victims.
The newspaper appealed the denial, and the city on Sept. 2 released further portions of the report that provided a broader look into the investigation. Police interviewed this week said the alleged victim was 16 or 17 years old when the improprieties began and is now an adult. Detectives also looked into the possibility of a second male teen victim, but no charges resulted from that.
The Standard-Examiner does not identify the victims of sex crimes without permission from them. The victims’ identities were not released to the Standard-Examiner.
A partial timeline of the alleged criminal activities and a chronicle of the investigation and prosecution of Hadley was pieced together through police and court documents, as well as interviews with police, city and school officials.
On Dec. 2, 2015, Ogden police detective Reed Mackley filed an initial contact report saying investigators were looking into “a series of sexual assaults which reportedly occurred” from 2007 to 2015 at various locations in Weber County. Hadley was listed as the suspect.
The synopsis of a follow-up investigative report by Mackley dated Dec. 15 also referred to alleged sexual assaults “and possibly exploitation and distribution of intimate images.”
An alleged victim told police it began with Hadley sending and requesting sexually explicit photos via cell phone and he paid cash for the photos. The detective wrote, “This pattern of illicit behaviors appears to possibly be (Hadley’s) ‘grooming’ of (a victim) for a lengthy period of time.”
In the report’s conclusion, Mackley wrote, “It does appear from witness accounts as well as evidence on Officer Hadley’s own cell phone that he was soliciting sexual favors … in exchange for money.”
Hadley described the text messages “as a joke,” the report said. Mackley added, “It seems based on the entirety of the text messages that it is not.”
Also on Dec. 15, a Harrisville officer was placed on administrative leave pending a criminal investigation, a fact later confirmed by Harrisville Police Chief Maxwell Jackson. Two weeks later, Jackson said the officer was fired. The officer’s name was not released because an investigation was underway and formal charges had not been filed.
Mackley’s report was submitted to the Ogden City Prosecutor’s Office for screening of possible charges of lewdness and patronizing a prostitute. Because of a conflict of interest, the screening was referred to the Weber County Attorney’s Office. Due to another conflict, the screening was finally referred to Trent Nelson in the Roy City Prosecutor’s Office.
‘MORAL RECONATION THERAPY’
On Feb. 11, Ogden City, represented by Nelson, filed four misdemeanor charges against Hadley in Ogden Justice Court: Lewdness, sexual solicitation, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and intoxication. The criminal information filed in court said the alleged crimes occurred Oct. 9, 2015, in northern Ogden.
In plea bargain documents filed May 25, Hadley pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of attempted sexual solicitation and the original charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A no-contest plea is legally identical to a guilty plea but the defendant does not admit guilt.
The plea bargain also included dropping the lewdness and intoxication charges. They were dismissed with prejudice, meaning they cannot be refiled.
Judge Andrea Lockwood sentenced Hadley to 90 days in jail on the solicitation charge and 180 days in jail for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. However, his jail time was suspended so did not spend any time incarcerated.
Lockwood also fined Hadley $600, imposed one year of probation and ordered him to complete Moral Reconation Therapy. The therapy is a trademarked process that practitioners say attempts to reduce the likelihood of further criminal behavior by increasing the offender’s moral reasoning.
Hadley and his attorney, Randolph B. Neal of Idaho Falls, Idaho, did not respond to several requests from the Standard for interviews or comment.
OFFICER’S WORK AT WEBER HIGH REVIEWED
Ogden Police Lt. Tim Scott explained in an interview how the investigation developed.
“The family of the victim hired a private investigator,” Scott said. Once the investigator found evidence of possible criminal activity, he notified the state Bureau of Investigation. The BCI then contacted the Ogden, Harrisville and Pleasant View police departments on suspicion that crimes may have been committed in all three cities.
Ogden police took on the local investigation because Harrisville and Pleasant View, as Hadley’s former employers, had conflicts of interest, Scott said.
Detectives investigated Hadley’s background as a school resource officer at Weber High. They obtained Hadley’s work-related computers and cell phones and found no evidence of crimes or improprieties on them, Scott said. The communications that led to the sexual solicitation charge were on personal devices.
Scott said there was no evidence found that would suggest the alleged wrongdoing “stemmed from anything specifically” related to Hadley’s on-duty time with police department, including his time working at Weber High.
Weber School District spokesman Lane Findlay, a former county sheriff’s lieutenant, said school resource officers are supervised by their employing police agencies. The schools contract with police agencies for the resource officers, paying part of their salaries, but the schools have no supervisory control over the officers, Findlay said.
Although charges were brought against him, Hadley was never arrested. Instead, a summons was issued ordering him to appear in justice court.
Sgt. Matthew Jensen of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office said there’s no record of Hadley being booked into the county jail. Typically, a defendant facing criminal charges must go through a booking process at a jail — usually the defendant goes to the jail associated with the investigating agency. In Hadley’s case, it is unclear if or which jail Hadley was processed in and attempts to contact area jails to confirm the booking and get a booking photo have been unsuccessful.
Pleasant View City released Hadley’s personnel records after an open records request, Hadley became a full-time officer in March 1999 and resigned April 12, 2013. City Manager Melinda Greenwood said Hadley was the Weber High resource officer when he resigned, but she did not know how long he had been in that assignment.
Jackson, Harrisville’s police chief, said Hadley was a sergeant before he left the Pleasant View job for health reasons. Harrisville hired him as a patrolman in 2015. He was still on new-employee probation when he was fired, Jackson said.
PEACE OFFICER CERTIFICATION AT STAKE
Jackson said he was notified this week that the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Council will consider this month a staff recommendation that Hadley’s certification be revoked for 2 ½ years.
Efforts to contact Scott Stephenson, POST executive director, were not successful.
Hadley’s Pleasant View personnel file shows the city awarded him a Medal of Valor in 2002.
According to an Associated Press story, Hadley shot a suspect during an arrest inside the Harrisville Walmart in January 2004. An investigative report by the Weber County Attorney’s Office cleared Hadley in the shooting, saying he acted bravely.
Police said Hadley was assisting a Harrisville officer on a suspicious person call at the store. As officers were arresting the man, he drew a gun, police said.
Ryon Hadley, who became Pleasant View police chief in 2014, said Friday he is related to Brett Ryon Hadley. He said the two have never worked together for the same department at the same time, including Pleasant View.