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A former state forensic scientist has pleaded guilty to five felonies in connection with sexually abusing two children.
Michael Hepworth, 54, of Woods Cross, was charged last June in 2nd District Court with eight first-degree felonies, including rape and sodomy of a child and aggravated sexual abuse of a child, as well as two counts of second-degree felony sexual exploitation of a minor.
On Monday, he pleaded guilty to first-degree felony counts of attempted rape of a child, attempted sodomy of a child, rape, and forcible sodomy, as well as one count of second-degree felony sexual exploitation of a minor.
He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced April 24 by Judge Michael Allphin.
Court documents say Hepworth sexually abused a boy and girl with whom he was acquainted over several years. The crimes were reported by the victims' mother in May.
One of the alleged victims reported to police that Hepworth showed him pornography, often child pornography, as the sexual assaults took place
In May 2016, the boy messaged Hepworth asking if he had access to the "special videos" anymore, according to court documents, to which Hepworth responded that he did not "because he no longer works in that lab."
The defendant worked in the computer forensics laboratory at Utah's crime lab as recently as 2015, according to a search warrant affidavit, and "would have access to numerous files containing child pornography."
Both children told investigators that Hepworth gave them money in exchange for sex. The girl was 15 last year when she told police she first had intercourse with Hepworth when she was 12. The boy was 17 last year when he reported being abused since he was 8 or 10 years old.
Hepworth worked at the crime lab since January 2002, according to a Department of Public Safety spokeswoman. He was terminated by the state in July.
He has been held at the Davis County jail in lieu of $250,000 bail since his arrest in June.