ST. GEORGE — A suspect and former police officer from up north was arrested by a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy who found him in a restaurant off Interstate 15 with a juvenile reported as missing out of Layton City hours earlier.

2017 stock image for illustrative purposes only | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

A Washington County Sheriff’s deputy responded after 9 p.m. Friday to southbound I-15 near the Sunriver exit in St. George shortly after a statewide notification was sent to all law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for a missing-endangered juvenile possibly traveling through the area.

The alert was issued by the Layton City Police Department indicating the minor was believed to have left with a man not related to the adolescent, and authorities learned the suspect was heading south to Las Vegas, Nevada, in a light-colored Chevrolet Tahoe. 

According to charging documents filed in support of the arrest, the SUV was registered to Philip Alan Rogers, 57, who was already under investigation in this case.

While canvassing the area, the deputy learned that both the suspect and the minor had been spotted via security cameras at a local restaurant. Both were sitting in the diner when the deputy pulled in, and the report states the man appeared to be talking to someone on a cell phone.

Both were asked to exit the business, and once outside, Rogers disclosed to the deputy that he had a gun in his left pocket, which subsequently was removed and secured by police. The report also states that as soon as he was read his rights and the deputy inquired about the minor, Rogers declined to speak to police.

The deputy contacted Layton City investigators who said that Rogers was a suspect in an ongoing investigation involving a missing and endangered juvenile picked up by Rogers who intended to take the juvenile to Las Vegas to have sex with the youth. Those suspicions were bolstered by items police found while searching Rogers; among the property were a firearm, a wallet that contained a police badge belonging to Rogers, a former law enforcement officer, along with a single condom, the report noted.

The suspect was arrested while the Tahoe was prepared for impound. During an inventory of the SUV, deputies found a suitcase that contained THC edibles and men’s clothing, along with several more condoms similar to the ones recovered from the suspect’s pocket.

Rogers was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility facing several charges specific to what deputies found during the stop in Washington County, including one third-degree felony count of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, based on the suspect having the firearm while also illegally possessing the THC, the report states. The suspect also faces one count each of harboring a runaway and possession of marijuana, each a misdemeanor. 

Washington County investigators then learned that detectives in Layton City were still investigating Rogers for further charges, including possible felony charges related to the enticement of a minor.

The name of the police agency the suspect was formerly employed with was not listed in the report, and while a search of court records yielded no information on his prior employment, it did provide information on a misdemeanor arrest for electronic communication that was filed on April 30, 2012. Rogers pleaded no contest to the charge when he entered a plea and abeyance agreement and the charge was dismissed the following year.

The case was then submitted to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy (POST) Council for review on Dec. 3, 2012, during which the suspect’s law enforcement license was suspended for one year.

The records also provided a summary of the case, indicating Rogers was employed as a deputy with the Davis County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the incident. On March 30, 2012, Rogers reportedly sent 49 harassing text messages to a deputy he worked with. Rogers subsequently admitted to sending the texts, and according to the record, he resigned from the Davis County Sheriff’s Office on May 22, 2012, roughly seven months before the POST council suspended his license.

Following the arrest on Friday night, Washington County authorities requested Rogers be held without bail based on the severity of the situation and the allegations Rogers was sexually exploiting the youth. The request was approved, and on Monday, the Washington County Attorney’s Office filed formal charges against the suspect who also appeared before District Judge John J. Walton during an initial appearance in 5th District Court in St. George. He remains in custody without bail.  

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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