USU names lewdness suspect
By Matthew K. Jensen and Kim Burgess
Published: Saturday, February 28, 2009 11:41 PM CST
The Utah State University police department on Friday released the name of the professor who was issued a citation for misdemeanor lewdness following an investigation of a sexual act in a school steam room.
Tom C. Peterson, a faculty member in Agriculture Systems Technology Education and the former head of the Interior Design program, is listed as one of the people involved in the incident. The Herald Journal received the information Friday afternoon by filing a Government Records Access Management Act (GRAMA) request with the school. Police had earlier declined to release Peterson’s name, citing direction from the university’s legal counsel.
Police officials are still searching for a second man suspected in the case, which began at 6 p.m. Tuesday evening when a patron of the school’s Health, Physical Education and Recreation facility walked into the building’s steam room and allegedly saw two people engaged in a sexual act.
The witness reported the incident to HPER staff, who called police. They issued a citation of class-B misdemeanor lewdness to Peterson on Wednesday after interviewing him. The witness also spoke to police, telling them he believed Peterson was one of the men in the steam room.
According to police documents, Peterson is scheduled to appear before a judge Tuesday.
Law enforcement declined to give further description of the alleged lewd act, saying the investigation is ongoing.
The professor did not return calls made by The Herald Journal on Friday. Later, USU spokesperson John DeVilbiss said Peterson did not wish to comment about the case.
“We are saddened and concerned by what has been alleged,” DeVilbiss said.
He added that the university is “not at a stage to take any disciplinary action” toward Peterson, adding that administrators will “allow for due process and let this work through the judicial system before we initiate any procedures.”
Peterson is a long-standing USU faculty member who became an assistant professor in design and merchandising in 1976. Registration records show that this semester he is teaching a creative arts class with 419 students enrolled.