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Utah lawmaker calls for tougher sex offender rules

LAYTON — If the law isn’t doing enough to keep a dangerous predator behind bars, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, says he’s ready to step in and change it.

“No family and no kids ought to live in fear. If there’s a loophole, something that we’re missing than it’s important that we address it,” Ray said.

This comes after three girls, between ten and eleven years old, noticed a man following them at a Smith’s grocery store on Gentile Street. One of the girl’s mothers, Jamie Caroll, said they ran over to a nearby Subway and asked the employees for help.

“She said that they’d been followed by this creepy old man and that he was waiting behind the building for them.” Caroll said.

Court documents say the employee, Rachel Lucero, helped the girls call an uncle, then watched as Chad Flitton, 41, walked into the Subway and followed the girls back to the restrooms where they were “scared and screaming.” Lucero¬†intervened, hiding the girls in the back of the restaurant while another employee dialed 911.

“I honestly truly believe that if [Rachel] didn’t do that that we’d be facing a different outcome,” Caroll said.

When asked by police, court documents show that Flitton admitted to following the girls around the Smiths and into the Subway.

This wasn’t the girl’s first encounter with Flitton. One of the 11-year-olds noticed the man following her a few weeks before. She called her uncle and ran home.

According to the probable cause statement, police asked Flitton about that encounter.

“Chad said it was very possible as he often followed people around on Fairfield and said he had done similar things as he had done today in the same area,” the statement reads.

Flitton was booked on a stalking charge, but bailed out the next day. Now Caroll said her daughter is terrified.

“She’s scared to death and doesn’t want to leave the house,” Caroll said. “It made me sick that this man is following children around and preying on them and just getting away with it. He’s getting these little teeny slaps on the wrist.”

Layton city police aren’t happy either. Lt. Travis Lyman said in their staff meeting on Monday they discussed Flitton and warned officers he is becoming increasingly dangerous.

“It’s extremely alarming to us, continuing that type of behavior,” Lyman said, adding that the man has a history of arrests like the one on Sunday.

But to some degree, their hands are tied. Although police say his record is substantial and the man is considered a predator, Flitton is only ever arrested on minor charges. Lyman said it’s a problem they may take to the legislature.

“If someone commits a lewdness offense and they get arrested and charged and that’s end of it – there is no future pattern – then, no, I don’t think we should broaden sex registry. But if there is a pattern of those offenses then I think it justifies a really close look by the legislature,” Lyman said.

Rep. Paul Ray said he might bring the question to them. After hearing the three girls’ story, he said he’s willing to look into the problem and see if it warrants a change in law.

“The fact that there’s a little girl being terrorized is going to play a big role in that,” Ray said.