PROVO, UT — Provo City has agreed to pay a total of $750,000 to five women who filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging sexual misconduct by John King, the former police chief.
The federal court settlement comes four months after the women alleged in a lawsuit that city officials did not respond to allegations of harassment and assault — ignoring complaints until a police volunteer reported in 2017 that King sexually assaulted her on several occasions. That woman’s report led to King’s forced resignation.
Lawyers for both the city and the plaintiffs said in a joint news release Thursday that they have settled the case and will now ask a judge to dismiss it.
Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi issued a statement calling the case “difficult.”
“While the city felt that it dealt appropriately with the complaints at the time they were filed, the city also recognized that we would spend a substantial amount of money in mounting a defense,” she said. “We also wanted to bring the issue to conclusion to allow healing among our police department employees and be able to move forward from these incidents.”
The five women say they were the subjects of unwanted sexual advances during the chief’s three-year tenure in Provo. They also say city officials including then-Mayor John Curtis — now a member of Congress — enabled the chief’s behavior and ignored complaints about him.
The women’s attorney, Michael Young, said in the Thursday news release that it was “unfortunate” that his clients felt it was necessary to file a lawsuit to resolve their complaints.
“That said, these women are eager to put the lawsuit behind them and concentrate on moving forward,” Young said.
The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.
In their lawsuit, the women sought an unspecified amount of money in damages as well as changes in city policy, including implementation of harassment and discrimination trainings for police and mayor’s office employees. The Thursday news release does not mention any changes to policy, only the monetary amount which will be paid by the city’s insurance carrier.
Heather White, the city’s attorney, had pushed back on the allegations against Provo in April, saying they were “inconsistent with what actually occurred.” The city, she said, responded “swiftly and appropriately” to three misconduct allegations they received about King during his tenure.