Jury returns verdict in trial of trucker accused of raping trainee

ST. GEORGE — A trucker who was apprehended at the Utah-Arizona state border in Southern Utah early last year was convicted Friday for a sexual assault he was accused of perpetrating at a trucking facility in northern Utah.

Thorpe Steele booking photo, posted Feb. 11, 2018 | File photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Thorpe Steele, 55, of Alvin, Texas, was found guilty of first-degree felony rape and forcible sodomy following a four-day trial in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake County.

A warrant for his arrest was originally filed in October 2017 after a woman came forward reporting he attacked her in his semitractor while she was training at a CR England training facility in West Valley City in July 2017.

At the time of the assault, the woman told police Steele was showing her the inside of his truck when he mentioned he had several knives and told her, “What happens in the truck stays in the truck.”

“When they entered the sleeping area of the truck, Steele grabbed the front of her pants and forced his hands into her pants,” police wrote in the warrant for his arrest.

The woman told Steele to stop, but he then threw her on the bed and told her to undress. According to the police statement, the woman said she protested, but he told her “No was not an option,” then grabbed her hair and made her undress.

The woman told police Steele then locked the truck, closed the blinds, pinned her to the bed and sexually assaulted her.

When questioned by police, Steele admitted to engaging in sexual activity with the woman but claimed it was consensual.

Utah Highway Patrol troopers arrest Thorpe Steele at the Utah-Arizona port of entry on Interstate 15, Washington County, Utah, Feb. 11, 2018 | File photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Steele was arrested Feb. 11, 2018, in Southern Utah by state troopers after he was flagged for a warrant while his semi was being inspected at the Utah-Arizona port of entry on Interstate 15 just south of St. George.

Read more: Authorities at Utah-Arizona border nab trucker suspected of rape

Steele was initially booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility in Washington County before being remanded to the Salt Lake County Jail where he has remained in custody.

His jury trial started Tuesday, and his guilty verdict was signed and delivered to Judge Paul B. Parker Friday afternoon.

Steele’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 25.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.