Recently, Utah Stories had on the podcast longtime Utah publisher Rhett Long. Long has been the publisher of the Ogden Standard Examiner, Provo Daily Herald, and The Saint George Spectrum. He is something of a collector of the oddball stories taking place in Utah. Naturally, he mentioned a few that gained national headlines worthy of discussion.
Whether you are new to Utah wanting to get a handle on the quirks and oddities or you are a longtime resident believing to know the culture of the Beehive State and its antics and foibles, you might want to check these out.
Predominantly, LDS Utah County, with its abundance of white picket fences and perfect green lawns, usually lives up to its nickname “Happy Valley”. Residents there would have you believe that everything is always sweet and wonderful. Not the case. Sometimes unexpected violence props up in the most unexpected of places, which is demonstrated in the first story.
A mayor punched and spat on
Orem Mayor David Young was spat on by journalist’s daughter Linnea Pugmire. After it was brought up in a meeting in which he said that the Daily Herald newspaper unfairly targeted him, he specifically called out Genelle Pugmire, the journalist who wrote about him at the Daily Herald. Pugmire exposed the Mayor for a judgment against the mayor in Alabama Court. The Mayor went on to smear the reporter. The reporter’s daughter didn’t like it. So she punched him.
Utah con artists
“Dateline’ examines tale of Utah fugitive Nicholas Rossi”
Nicholas Rossi, a fugitive out of Utah County, who reportedly goes by several aliases, has long been sought in connection with a Utah County sexual assault case. In televised interviews, alleged victims and investigative officers on both sides of the Atlantic described Rossi as a con artist. They accused him of being a rapist and sex abuser who had taken advantage of people at all levels.
Utah County has no shortage of “con-artists”, in fact you could say that with their abundance of MLM companies, they have taken the art form to an entirely new level. Utah Stories has uncovered MLM scams related to Young Living Oils, Doterra, and the birth and death of the hydrogen truck company called Nikola, which scammed Wall Street out of billions.
Confessing on social media
While Utah County might have its fair share of con artists, what the general public doesn’t find much of in the county is openly gay, LDS Members with a wife and kids. So when the following story broke, it made national headlines.
Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie made a personal announcement and publicly came out as a gay man.
“I know I need to be honest with my friends, my family, and my neighbors here in Utah County,” Ivie began in a 5-minute video message shared on social media.
It’s nice when people are forthright and honest, what is disturbing is when someone appears to be forthright, casual, and honest but then they decide to go back and reverse and deny what they previously said. This is exactly what happened regarding Utah County’s Attorney who said in a documentary film interview in 2020 that ritual sex abuse has happened, and he knows victims of the abuse, but then when he was pressed further by the media he said that he actually knew nothing really about it.
Utah County Attorney David Leavitt responds to “false allegations”, including being involved in a ritualistic sex abuse ring, and cannibalism. Leavitt likely lost his reelection bid for County Attorney due to these “false allegations.” Were they true or false? We do not know, because it appears that if ritual sex abuse were happening and if there was a big pedophilia ring of abuse within the Church, there has been no further investigation.
Child Sex Trafficking
Speaking of child sex trafficking, and exposing those who are perpetuating it, Tim Ballard became nationally famous and recognized for founding of Operation Underground Railroad. This anti-child-sex-trafficking organization is dedicated to stopping the illicit, illegal trafficking of kids from South American countries to the United States. Ballard was attacked and condemned by Vice and he was defended by many of those in conservative media. Ballard gained credibility by indicating that he was good friends with LDS Leader Elder Russell Ballard. It turns out that this is not true. It also turns out that Ballard is either the target of a malicious attack by left-wing media “out to destroy him” or he was a perpetrator of sexual harassment and manipulation of the former colleagues he worked with at Operation Underground Railroad. Unfortunately, the actual truth is difficult to find or guess since biased reporting in the media is now the norm. Hopefully, more facts will emerge, if –as Utah Stories and Rhett Long discussed on the podcast—reporters and news outlets decide that perhaps the actual truth is better than slanted and biased reporting.