Sex assault claims piled up. Little jail time followed. Utahn now called an ‘extreme public safety risk’

Dec 20, 2022, 10:15 PM | Updated: 10:42 pm

SPANISH FORK, Utah — An accused serial predator faced a Davis County judge Tuesday morning.

Joshua Homer, 26, appeared remotely from inside the Utah County Jail, where he’s currently being held without bail. For now, that’s where he’ll stay.

Homer was arrested on suspicion of violating his probation conditions last week, the day after he was the subject of a KSL investigation that revealed crimes against women spanning the last decade, but sentences amounting to less than a month in jail.

Homer is also the target of a movement comprised of several Utah women pushing for his incarceration through social media posts and an online petition. Homer’s accusers claim he is a serial predator who the state’s criminal justice system has failed to hold accountable.

The movement caught the attention of investigators with Utah’s State Bureau of Investigation, which confirms it has received more than 25 claims of sexual assault against Homer.

Wednesday, Homer’s hearing went forward without his longtime private attorney, Rich Gallegos, who filed to be removed from the case last week.

Second District Judge David Connors approved Gallegos’ request and appointed public defender Jason Widdison to represent Homer against allegations of several probation violations.

A remote hearing held for Joshua Homer on Dec. 20.

“Allegation one is that he is currently under investigation for rape,” said Davis County prosecutor Coral Sanchez.

Vanessa Clark reported to law enforcement in Utah County that Homer sexually assaulted her on Nov. 6, just days after he was in front of Judge Connors and sentenced to zero-tolerance probation for sex crimes against a 16-year-old.

KSL does not typically identify victims of sexual assault, but Clark chose to be identified in the hopes of protecting other women.

“I can’t believe that he was able to do what he did,” Clark told the KSL Investigators.

Another troubling detail of Clark’s report to law enforcement is her statement that Homer had a gun.

“It was fully loaded and just out in the open,” Clark told KSL. “And even when I asked him to like maybe even put it away, showing him that I was scared of it, he was aggressively defensive about it, and it made me more scared in that position.”

Clark says she told police about the gun when she first reported the assault to the Orem Police Department on Nov. 7. The alleged assault was determined to have happened in Vineyard, and the case was transferred to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 14.

It is unlawful for felons to carry or own a gun, and doing so would also violate Homer’s conditions of probation.

When the KSL Investigators asked the Utah County Sheriff’s Office about it on Dec. 2, Sgt. Spencer Cannon said he did not know whether detectives had reached out to Adult Probation and Parole about the report of a gun.

“I don’t know the specifics of that. I don’t know if they’re – what steps they’ve taken – what contact they’ve made,” Cannon said.

Utah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon participates in an interview with the KSL Investigators on Dec. 2. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)

Now, the sheriff’s office admits that communication between agencies didn’t happen until after the KSL Investigators’ first report on Joshua Homer aired on Dec. 13.

Documents submitted to the courts by AP&P report the Utah County Sheriff’s Office notified them on Dec. 14 about an investigation into Homer for an alleged rape, wherein the victim reported Homer had a loaded gun.

Homer was arrested the same day.

AP&P agents did not find a gun at his home, but noted they recovered a “leafy green substance” from his car and found “several glass pipes with burnt residue,” two pocket knives, synthetic urine, someone else’s driver’s license and “several unopened alcoholic beverages” in his residence.

Documents submitted to the court by AP&P list items found after a search of Homer’s car and residence. (KSL TV)

AP&P submitted claims of eight probation violations in court, and despite previously recommending probation for Homer, the agency now alleges in court filings that “he’s continuing to exhibit the same behavior since he was 16 years old.”

Through his newly appointed attorney, Homer denied the allegations.

AP&P supervision records obtained by the KSL Investigators indicate between Oct. 18 and Dec. 7, the agency considered Homer to be in compliance.

Only two visits to his home during that period are listed in the broadly redacted records, and both attempts ended the same way: “No answer at the door.”

Clark questioned whether those visits were adequate.

“Aren’t they supposed to be checking up on him?” she asked. “Are they even doing their jobs?”

In its latest court filings, AP&P states Homer “is an extreme public safety risk and is not a good candidate for the privilege of probation.”

Judge Connors granted prosecutors’ request for Homer to remain in jail without the possibility of bail ahead of his next hearing in the Davis County case on Jan. 10.

“I am hoping that between now and the time of our next meeting, we’ll know whether Utah County has decided to go forward with the charges down there,” Connors said.

Homer is scheduled to appear in court in Weber County next week to face similar allegations that he violated his probation in a felony case there.

This report is part of a series examining how apparent gaps at every level of Utah’s criminal justice system failed to protect Utahns from an accused serial predator.

If you have experienced sexual violence, you can access help and resources by calling Utah’s 24-hour Sexual Violence Helpline at 1-888-421-1100. You can also call the Rape Recovery Center Crisis Line at 801-467-7273 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 for free, confidential counseling.

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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Sex assault claims piled up. Little jail time followed. Utahn now called an ‘extreme public safety risk’