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Utah funeral home owner charged with sex crimes; attorney faces obstruction charge

SALT LAKE CITY โ€” The president and owner of a Logan funeral home was charged Tuesday with several sex-related crimes against at least one teenage boy.

In an odd twist, criminal charges have also been filed against the attorney who represented the funeral home owner's estranged wife during their divorce proceedings for allegedly refusing to hand over evidence of child pornography against him to police.

Lonnie Kent Nyman, 34, of Millville, Cache County โ€” the owner of Nyman Funeral Home โ€” is charged in 1st District Court with three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony; four counts of dealing in harmful materials to a minor, witness tampering and obstruction of justice, third-degree felonies; and two counts of enticing a minor, a class A misdemeanor.

Attorney Tess Ann Davis, 47, of Logan, who was Jerrilyn Nyman's attorney, is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, a third-degree felony.

Police say Lonnie Nyman arranged to have sex with a boy in March using the app Grindr. During their conversations, Nyman and the boy sent each other pornographic images, according to charging documents.

"The minor child did meet with Nyman at the arranged location, but after arriving, became uncomfortable with Nyman's behavior and left before engaging in any sexual conduct," the charges state.

In April, Nyman's wife discovered pornographic images on her husband's iPad, the charges state. Jerrilyn Nyman used her phone to record videos of the images on the iPad and then contacted Davis, her attorney.

The Cache County Sheriff's Office arranged a meeting with Davis, but said she later canceled the appointment. The next day, Davis called the police investigator "and informed him that her client was having cold feet and didn't want to come forward," according to the charges.

When the investigator asked Davis if she was in possession of the videos, she "replied that it didn't matter as the evidence was 'protected by attorney-client privilege' and advised she would not be turning it over," the charges state. She then "demanded that (police) stop contacting her and her client."

The next day, sheriff's investigators went to Davis' office with a search warrant in an attempt to retrieve the videos, according to court records.

Davis declined to tell authorities the identity of the boy in the video, even though Jerrilyn Nyman recognized him, the charges state.

"Davis told officers that her client would not be providing the identity of the minor, that Jerrilyn Nyman had already told her bishop and officers could obtain that information from him," according to the charges.

When contacted by the Deseret News Tuesday, Davis said she was unaware that charges had been filed against her and said she needed time to investigate before commenting.

"The videos feature L. Nyman having sex with potentially underage boys" and "some of the videos appeared to be recorded in the funeral home and possibly at the Nyman residence," according to a search warrant affidavit served by the Utah Attorney General's Office, which was assisting the Cache County Sheriff's Office.

The warrant indicates that there were a total of eight videos.

During the execution of the search warrant, Davis allegedly told investigators that she had given the tablet back to her client. Investigators later found out she had the tablet in her possession the entire time, according to court documents, and investigators seized it.

On the iPad, investigators found screenshots of five males believed to be between the ages of 15 and 20, the affidavit states.

A few days later, Lonnie Nyman contacted the boy, "telling him that (his) wife had found out about their relationship and may be going to the police" and then called the boy a few days after that "and told him that if anyone were to question him, he should lie and say, 'All we did was visit,'" according to charging documents.

Investigators questioned the 17-year-old boy a few days later at his high school, the warrant says.