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Utah child sex case delayed due to mercury ingestion

Published October 2, 2013 6:10 pm

Courts • Defendant ingested mercury, and attorney says client is a public health risk.
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A former science teacher accused of sexual exploitation has had his court proceedings postponed until his mercury-contaminated body is no longer a public health risk.

Kenneth Prince, 61, is charged in 2nd District Court with five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor for allegedly abusing several teenage boys.

The Uintah man, who is also an ex-Boy Scout leader, tried to kill himself on Sept. 26 by ingesting mercury and explained in a suicide note that it was in response to the charges, according to the police.

Despite ingesting half a bottle of the toxin, Prince survived and was due in 2nd District Court on Wednesday to make his first appearance on his charges. But his attorney filed a motion to postpone the appearance until Oct. 23.

Keith Larsen, emergency services director of Bear River Health Department, has been handling Prince's contamination issue. As far as Larsen is concerned, Prince should be in self-imposed quarantine for at least a week, though two weeks would be better, due to the contamination risk from the amount of mercury he ingested, according to court documents.

While removing Prince from the home police found him in, at least two officers and several paramedics were inadvertently exposed to the mercury that had spilled onto the floor, said Logan Police spokesman Capt. Jeff Curtis at the time.

No emergency responders suffered any symptoms of mercury poisoning, but two officers' homes had to be decontaminated and several uniforms and other pieces of equipment were thrown out and replaced. Even the Logan Police station, which was exposed to the chemical via the unwitting officers, had to be decontaminated.

It was not immediately clear how Prince obtained the mercury.

Officials said their investigation was sparked by a now-adult male who told detectives that Prince had sexually abused him while he was a minor. Police specified last week that none of the alleged abuse had occurred on school grounds or during Boy Scout activities.

Police say nine new people have stepped forward with allegations against Prince. South Ogden police Lt. Dwight Ruth provided few details about the new accusers earlier this week, though he did say they are all adults now and are cooperating with police.

Ruth also said then that he had "no doubt" there are additional victims given Prince's decades-long career as a junior high teacher and time as a Boy Scout leader in the South Ogden area.

Prince was employed as teacher at South Ogden Junior High School from 1979 to 2008. Police said the suspect also had been a Boy Scout leader for many years in the South Ogden area.

Upon searching Prince's home, officers found several sexual images of young boys. As of last week, detectives were still trying to identify the boys in the seized images.

None of the pictured youths were the complainant, and it was undetermined if the images were taken by Prince or if they had been downloaded from the Internet, according to South Ogden Police.


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