ST. GEORGE – A former Washington County Sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to 90 days in jail Wednesday for charges related to sexual misconduct with female inmates while he was working at the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
Steven Garrett Thayer appeared with attorney Gary Pendleton in 5th District Court before Judge G. Michael Westfall to be sentenced on three class A misdemeanor counts of custodial sexual misconduct involving two women incarcerated at the county jail in 2013. Thayer pleaded no contest to the charges Feb. 18.
In October of 2013, Thayer was fired as a sheriff’s deputy and arrested on a total of seven misdemeanors and one felony following an investigation into the matter. All but three class A misdemeanors were eventually dropped as part of a plea agreement.
Along with the dropped charges, the prosecution recommended Thayer serve 60 days in the Iron County Jail in weekend increments, be put on 36 months of supervised probation, and get a psycho-sexual evaluation. A presentencing report, however, recommended an additional 30 days in jail. Westfall followed the report’s recommendation.
“I take a very dim view of illegal activity in the jail,” Westfall said.
Traveling to Iron County each week would be a financial burden to Thayer and his family, Pendleton said, and he asked the court to bypass the proposed jail time.
“I know that’s asking a lot,” he said.
Westfall declined the request, saying he believed Thayer should serve time for what he did.
No longer in law enforcement, Pendleton said, Thayer has been self-employed on a contract basis, cleaning construction sites three days a week. He is also working to start his own business.
Before Westfall pronounced sentence, Thayer was allowed to address the court.
“My poor decisions have completely affected every aspect of my life,” Thayer said. Family matters are more complicated, as are factors surrounding employment and relationships, he said.
Thayer mentioned a letter he wrote to the court and reiterated that he was appreciative of how the court had handled his case so far.
“There’s going to be a lot of years and years of grief from this,” he said.
When others engage in criminal behavior, innocent people suffer, Westfall said, referring to the impact Thayer’s actions have had on his family. He also said he read the letter and felt Thayer was trying to shift some of the blame away from himself.
Westfall sentenced Thayer to serve 90 days in the Iron County Jail in four-day increments, to be followed by 36 months of supervised probation. Thayer was also ordered to get a psycho-sexual evaluation within the next six months. Fines and fees amounting to about $600 were issued, with the question of restitution being left open for the time being.
If Thayer violates his probationary period, he faces up to three years in jail – a consecutive sentence for the three class A misdemeanors – and fines of up to $7,500.
As a sheriff’s deputy at Purgatory, Thayer was one of the guards who routinely checked in on inmates, Deputy Washington County Attorney Zachary Weiland said in a prior hearing.
Two female inmates who shared a cell in a block Thayer was responsible for checking reported multiple incidents involving the former deputy, and the inmates’ reports were the foundation of the custodial sexual misconduct charges. Thayer later admitted, when being interviewed by investigators, that some of the encounters had occurred.
“We want to make sure this this type of behavior never, ever happens again,” Weiland said.
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