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UHP trooper charged with sexually abusing woman while off-duty

RICHFIELD — An off-duty Utah Highway Patrol trooper is now facing criminal charges accusing him of sexually abusing a woman.

Bronson Willas Wood, 46, of Richfield, was charged Monday in 6th District Court with two counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony; and two counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor, a class A misdemeanor.

A 19-year-old woman was at Wood’s home with a friend and drinking wine on March 18, 2023. Wood also encouraged the woman to “take shots” of liquor with him, according to charging documents.

Later that night, while the woman was trying to go to sleep on a couch, Wood approached her and “put his hand on (her) hip and started rubbing her side, asking her if she was OK. (The woman) said she was fine and asked (Wood) to stop touching her. (He asked her) to make out with him and said he had been in love with her since the day they met,” the charges state. A police booking affidavit adds that Wood told her he had been in love with her since she was 17.

Wood continued to inappropriately touch the woman despite her telling him “she did not want him to do that and told him over and over to go upstairs. (Wood) finally left (her) alone and she escaped out of a basement door and called a friend to come pick her up,” according to the charges.

The woman said she waited about a year before reporting the incident “because she did not think anyone would believe her because Bronson is a highway patrol officer,” the affidavit states.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office was asked in March of this year to investigate the allegations to avoid any potential conflicts of interest in Sevier County. Wood, who has been with UHP for 17 years, was placed on administrative leave in April following his arrest.

“We take the allegations in this incident very seriously,” the highway patrol said in a statement. “The Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Highway Patrol have zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”

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