CRIME

UHP trooper accused of sexually assaulting teenager after allowing her to drink alcohol

Apr 16, 2024, 4:41 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2024, 11:24 am

RICHFIELD — A Utah Highway Patrol trooper was arrested for allegedly allowing a teenager to drink alcohol in his home and sexually assaulting her.

Bronson Willas Wood, 46, was booked into the Sevier County Jail on Tuesday for forcible sexual abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to the police affidavit.

In March, the Utah County Sherriff’s Office was contacted by the Richfield Police Department about Wood’s alleged sexual assault while he was off duty.

According to the affidavit, a third party reported that Wood sexually touched a 19-year-old woman without her consent. The affidavit stated the victim was found and told police she did not report the sexual assault because “she did not think anyone would believe her because (Wood) is a Highway Patrol officer.”

A week later, Utah County detectives spoke to the victim about the alleged assault that happened on March 18, 2023.

The victim told police that she was staying in Wood’s home with a family member of his and two other people. The victim said that Wood allowed her and his 19-year-old family member to drink alcohol and “encouraged them to take shots.”

According to the affidavit, the victim was on the couch in the basement, and Wood visited her while everyone else was asleep. The victim said he sat beside her and asked if she was OK, which she told him she was.

The victim told police Wood asked again and placed his hand on her body, which caused her to worry about “escalating the situation, so she tried to stay calm,” the affidavit stated.

The victim said that Wood kept touching her, and she asked him to stop, but he continued to touch her. According to the affidavit, Wood asked the victim if she would “make out with me?”

The victim told police that she said “no” to Wood and told him that “he had a girlfriend upstairs and they were in love and he did not want to do that,” according to the affidavit.

The affidavit stated that Wood told the victim “he had been in love with her since the day she moved there.” The victim was 17 when she moved in.

The victim told police that Wood continued to touch her and tried to convince her to kiss him. She said she was trying to get Wood upstairs and eventually convinced him to leave the basement.

According to the affidavit, the victim had a friend pick her up from the house and left. The affidavit stated that the victim told Wood’s family member about the sexual assault, and he was confronted about that night.

“Bronson initially denied everything but later told two people that what the victim said happened did happen,” according to the affidavit, but left out some of the inappropriate touching.

In a written statement, UHP said Wood was placed on administrative leave while an outside agency conducted a criminal investigation. UHP has also initiated an administrative investigation into Wood.

“We take the allegations in this incident very seriously,” UHP said in its statement. “The Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Highway Patrol have zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”

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UHP trooper accused of sexually assaulting teenager after allowing her to drink alcohol