Trucker convicted of raping woman at training facility is sentenced to prison

Utah Highway Patrol troopers arrest Thorpe Steele at the Utah-Arizona port of entry on Interstate 15, Washington County, Utah, Feb. 11, 2018 | File photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A man who was apprehended by state troopers in St. George early last year has been sentenced to prison after he was convicted of raping a woman at a trucking facility.

Thorpe Steele was sentenced to five years to life in the Utah State Prison for two convictions: first-degree felony rape and first-degree felony forcible sodomy.

The sentence was handed down Monday by Judge Paul B. Parker in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake County after a jury found the 55-year-old Texas man guilty of both charges following a three-day trial in January.

Steele was initially arrested in February 2018 after he was flagged for a warrant during a routine inspection of his semitractor-trailer at the Interstate 15 Utah-Arizona port of entry.

Read more: Authorities at Utah-Arizona border nab trucker suspected of rape 

The warrant stemmed from an accusation of sexual assault made by one of his female trainees at a CR England training facility in West Valley City in July 2017.

The woman told police that Steele was showing her the inside of his truck when he showed her his knife collection and then forced himself on her.

Thorpe Steele booking photo posted Feb. 11, 2018 | File photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

“When they entered the sleeping area of the truck, Steele grabbed the front of her pants and forced his hands into her pants,” police wrote in the warrant for his arrest.

The woman told Steele to stop, but he then threw her on the bed and told her to undress. According to the police statement, the woman said she protested, but he told her “No was not an option,” then grabbed her hair and made her undress.

The woman told police Steele then locked the truck, closed the blinds, pinned her to the bed and sexually assaulted her.

Steele later admitted to police that he had engaged in sexual activity with the woman but said it was consensual.

During the trial, multiple friends and family of the woman provided victim impact statements describing how she went from being a vibrant, outgoing hard-worker looking to advance her career to becoming anxious, depressed and distant.

Steele was remanded to the custody of the Utah State Prison in Draper where he will serve his sentences concurrently.

The judge also ordered Steele to pay an as-yet determined amount in restitution to the victim.

Steele has 30 days to appeal.

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