Myton, UT — Early one morning in July 2014, a woman in Myton, Utah was startled awake by an uninvited visitor named Thomas Wade Butterfield.
“I’m a cop,” Butterfield explained to the intimidated woman when she asked how he had gotten into her bedroom. “They teach us how to do those things.”
When the woman moved into the living room, Butterfield followed her, placing his hand on her leg in a gesture at once proprietary and predatory. The unexpected arrival of the woman’s father prevented what likely would have been a sexual assault – and Butterfield’s firing as the tiny town’s police chief ended what was allegedly a four-month reign of terror during which he forced his unwanted attentions on at least four women.
Salt Lake City NBC affiliate KSL reports that two days prior to Butterfield’s invasion of the woman’s bedroom, the victim had called the police seeking “help getting her car, purse and other personal items back from her estranged husband.” After Butterfield arrived, the officer held her against her will for about two hours, driving her in his patrol car and making clumsy sexual overtures and ignoring her repeated pleas to be released, according to the woman’s testimony during a July 30 pre-trial hearing.
“He asked me if I ever thought about having sex with a cop,” the woman related in the courtroom. Acting on the assumption that the victim’s reluctance reflected concerns about confidentiality, rather than visceral revulsion, Chief Butterfield assured her that “My car is like Vegas: What happens here, stays here.”
Trapped in the custody of an armed stranger with a state-issued license to use lethal force, the woman was concerned about not only her bodily integrity, but her physical survival – and she knew that the perpetrator’s account of the incident would be considered definitive because of his position.
“With him being in authority, he could make things a lot worse for me because he’s a cop,” she observed during her testimony.
Although she escaped that encounter, Butterfield – displaying a heedless, clueless ardor reminiscent of the libidinous cartoon character Pepe LePew – materialized in her bedroom two days later.
Other women have provided sworn testimony of similar treatment by Myton’s only full-time law enforcement officer.
“I told him that I wasn’t interested in any sort of sexual relationship,” a second woman testified during a May 11 hearing. Rather than accepting the rebuff, Butterfield plied the victim with unsolicited personal disclosures, telling her that he and his wife hadn’t been intimate for several years and that he “needed a cool kind of friend that wouldn’t cause drama in his life.”
Despite the utter absence of any hint of reciprocal interest, Butterfield called the woman repeatedly and showed up at her home without an invitation, announcing his intention to “finish the conversation” about sex – which, given that the “conversation” was one-sided and involuntary, left the woman understandably alarmed and frightened.
Remarkably, the woman who found Butterfield standing in her bedroom was not the first to have that experience – nor the first to be told that breaking into the home of a would-be victim is part of his skill set as a police officer.
Holli Stewart told the Deseret News that after she broke up with Butterfield in 1999, she found him sitting on the edge of her bed. When she asked how he had gotten in, Butterfield replied: “Holly, I’m a cop. They teach us how to do that. I can get in anywhere.”
At the time, Butterfield was employed as an officer with the police department in Lehi, Utah. He was charged with criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor. In exchange for a no contest plea, Butterfield had the charge reduced to an infraction. His peace officer certification was suspended for a year, after which he found employment with police departments in Spring City and Roosevelt, eventually being hired as a deputy with the Duschene County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2010, Butterfield resigned from the Duschene County Sheriff’s Office during an internal affairs inquiry into alleged misconduct involving another woman. He was re-hired by the Roosevelt PD, but was fired in April 2013 after two more women filed complaints claiming that he had acted inappropriately toward them.
Despite his severely tainted record and “gypsy cop” status, Butterfield was hired by Myton when the political clique in charge of the town of 539 unaccountably decided that although the village has one stop sign and no measurable criminal activity, it needed a police department.
“We scraped together every cent we could to get a department together,” Myton Mayor Kathleen Cooper lamented to the Salt Lake Tribute. Butterfield was hired in July 2014. By September, sexual misconduct allegations had begun to accumulate.
“People are innocent until proven guilty,” Mayor Cooper said with respect to the “mind-numbing” charges against Butterfield. “At this point, we stand behind our chief, and we’ll defend him until we find out otherwise.”
Cooper and her associates should have spent some of their precious funds to vet their choice for police chief: Even a cursory background check would have yielded evidence of his unsuitability. The mayor’s determination to defend the chief evaporated shortly after the September 16, 2014 interview with the Tribune: Butterfield was fired by the city and surrendered his peace officer certification.
8th District Judge Samuel Chiara found sufficient evidence to bind Butterfield over for trial on two counts of stalking, one count of illegal detention, and one count of criminal trespassing. The trial is set for early December.