Spanish Fork, UT — For 12 years, before he retired without notice in 2020, Gary Lee Bell was the assistant attorney general from the Utah Attorney General's Office where he worked in the Child Protection Division, prosecuting individuals who harmed children. His years of service are now being called into question, however, as he was arrested this month for that very act.
Bell was arrested on August 24th by Utah County sheriff's deputies and charged with six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. According to police, the investigation into Bell was launched on May 22, 2022, after they received a tip about child sex abuse material being uploaded to social media.
According to the tip, submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Bell was distributing images and videos on an unnamed social media app of children under the age of 10 being sexually abused.
Bell’s probable cause statement confirmed that “Gary is a retired Assistant Attorney General from the Utah Attorney General’s Office where he worked in the Child Protection Division and prosecuted crimes against children.”
“It's bad when anyone gets involved in this kind of stuff,” said Sergeant Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Department, who investigated the tip. “But it seems especially disappointing given the nature of the work that Mr. Bell was involved in…fighting against the very thing he was involved in doing.”
Bell's own wife told police that her husband was a danger, claiming that he had attempted to secretly record her without permission while she was in the shower.
The nature of the material found on Bell's devices was so disturbing that the judge has ordered him to be held without bail, referring to him as "a substantial danger" to the community.
Recommended for You
"There was some concern because there are grandchildren who are cared for in the home there," said Cannon, pointing out that Bell's wife babysits young children during the week.
"At least for now a judge has determined he is to be held without bail," he added. "That could change in the future, but for now he's being held without bail."
After his arrest, a spokesperson for the Utah Attorney General's Office issued this statement:
“Mr Bell deserves his day in court, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our office works diligently to fight the kinds of sexual exploitation Mr. Bell is accused of in the charging docket. We will continue to bring justice for every sexual exploitation case investigated and prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office. Mr. Bell’s prior connection to the Office will in no way prevent the course of justice to prevail.”
As TFTP has reported before, pedophiles often seek out positions of power and authority over children so they are in a position to abuse. Priests, teachers, coaches, police officers, counselors, and others are just some of the fields in which pedophiles will attempt to gain employment. Unfortunately, it's not the first time we have reported on officials whose job it is to protect children — actually preying on children.
Before he was arrested last summer, FBI Supervisory Special Agent David Harris, 51, was tasked with investigating crimes against children, including child sexual abuse material, otherwise known as child pornography. It is entirely possible that he sought out this position to further exploit children as he was charged last September with multiple crimes against children, including indecency with a child, crimes against nature and sexual battery.