Utah AG’s Office reveals pornography was found on former attorney’s work computer two years ago

Sep 16, 2022, 6:10 PM | Updated: 6:48 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Amid new revelations about a criminal case against a retired attorney from the Utah Attorney General’s Office, the KSL Investigators have learned about the findings of an internal investigation into alleged misconduct by the lawyer in 2020.

Last month, an investigation by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit led to Gary Bell’s arrest for allegedly possessing child pornography. Bell, 66, was released this month on an electronic monitor, only to be arrested again six days later when detectives found evidence that led them to believe Bell had also produced child pornography.

Bell worked in a Utah AG’s Office division that handles child welfare cases. Through a public records request, the KSL Investigators learned Bell was the subject of an internal investigation in 2020.

Previously, the AG’s Office declined to release the findings of the investigation to the KSL Investigators, claiming doing so could interfere with legal or administrative proceedings. But Friday, a spokesperson released a statement confirming Bell had been investigated for files on his work computer.

A letter from Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office to Bell, a then employee, dated Aug. 28, 2020, informed him, “due to allegations of misconduct, you are being placed on paid administrative leave.”

The following month, Bell signed a notice that he was being questioned in conjunction with an official investigation for the AG’s Office that stated, “we may also question you relative to your off-duty conduct.”

A week later, Bell resigned.

“Because he was an employee, and because of concerns about the extent of his pornography use on a work computer, our office turned the evidence over to Sandy Police Department (an outside law enforcement agency) to avoid a conflict of interest,” spokesperson Rich Piatt wrote in an email. “The investigation is on-going.”

Sandy Police Sgt. Greg Moffitt confirmed they took on the case due to a conflict of interest and said the investigation remains active. No charges have been filed.

“That’s a valid question,” Moffitt said, when asked why the investigation is still ongoing two years later.

“When we start looking at cases where they involve digital data, any sort of data, or several devices, or even some particular devices, we can’t just open those up and with a couple of keystrokes, see what it is that’s on there,” he explained. “Most of these files – without getting into the nitty gritty of things – a lot of them are protected, a lot of them are encrypted. We also have a search warrant process we have to go through.”

Moffitt said the process of investigating cases involving digital evidence can sometimes be “painstakingly slow,” but the department is prioritizing the investigation into Bell.

In a statement provided to KSL Friday, Attorney General Sean Reyes commented on the case directly for the first time:

While everyone is entitled to a presumption of innocence, if these alleged facts are true, I’m disgusted and deeply disturbed by this conduct. I hope Utah County aggressively pursues prosecution. If not, we will. If these facts are proven true and he’s found guilty, it will be a most egregious breach of public trust by a former public servant who was supposed to be protecting our children.

While Reyes’ office has released some of Bell’s personnel records to KSL, the office cannot release the statements Bell made to investigators back in 2020 – that’s because Utah lawmakers passed legislation this year that now keeps those statements secret.

Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you

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Utah AG’s Office reveals pornography was found on former attorney’s work computer two years ago