CRIME

Before child porn arrest, lawyer retired from Utah AG’s Office amid allegations of misconduct

Sep 7, 2022, 7:16 PM
(KSL TV)...
(KSL TV)
(KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY —  Before his arrest on child pornography charges, a lawyer retired from the Utah Attorney General’s Office amid an internal review that ultimately found misconduct on his part.

But the office isn’t saying whether its findings and Gary Bell’s recent arrest are related.

Bell, 66, was placed on paid leave two years ago when his former employer began looking into “allegations of misconduct” against him, according to a letter sent to Bell from Spencer Austin, the attorney general’s chief criminal deputy. KSL obtained a copy of the correspondence dated Aug. 28, 2020, through a public records request.

The internal probe sustained allegations against Bell, spokesman Rich Piatt said Wednesday, and Bell retired in 2020, sometime after it began.

The office provided scant details and isn’t releasing its findings, claiming doing so could interfere with legal or administrative proceedings.

Former sex crimes prosecutor arrested for child porn in Utah County

Bell worked in a Utah AG’s Office division that handles child welfare cases. The job typically doesn’t involve working closely with children, Piatt said. Bell may have interacted with kids and teens in the course of his work, Piatt added, but only with at least one other adult present.

He was arrested two weeks ago after Utah County Sheriff’s deputies say they traced uploads of explicit images of a girl 6-8 years old to his IP address. His lawyer John Kwarm didn’t return a Wednesday message seeking comment.

A judge in Provo ordered Bell’s release from jail on Tuesday. He faces five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony.

At the time of Bell’s arrest, the Attorney General’s Office said it works diligently to fight the kinds of sexual exploitation he’s accused of.

It also noted Bell is considered innocent until proven guilty in the U.S. legal system and said his tie to the office of the state’s top law enforcer won’t stand in the way of justice.

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Before child porn arrest, lawyer retired from Utah AG’s Office amid allegations of misconduct