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Salt Lake County Inmate Found Dead After Being Charged with Abuse

Salt Lake County

A jailed man accused of sexually abusing teenage immigrant boys and forcing them to deal drugs is dead. The Salt Lake County Sheriff says that authorities found 42-year-old Victor Manuel Rax hanging in his cell Monday night, and they believe he committed suicide.

Victor Rax was arrested in February by the state Attorney General’s SECURE Strike Force investigation team. He faced 63 felony charges ranging from child sodomy to drug trafficking. Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder says authorities were aware that Rax was having problems in jail.

“Mr. Rax, from fairly early on in his stay at the Salt Lake County Jail, frankly had unusual behaviors - behaviors that I would suggest were probably indicative of mental illness or other conditions, and they were being monitored,” Winder says.

Winder says Rax had been transferred to a subacute mental health unit, but it was determined that his condition was stable enough to return him to the monitored housing unit where he was found dead Monday night. A multi-agency investigation into the death is continuing, but Winder says it appears to be suicide.

“My perspective is we simply will not tolerate any suicides,” Winder says. “So pending the outcome of that investigation, we’ll make determinations relative to alterations in policies or practices.”

A trial had not been set in Rax’s court case, though he had a scheduling conference in May. Prosecutors say Rax raped immigrant children as young as 9. They say he threatened the children's families, and forced teenagers to sell drugs in Utah high schools.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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