Wyoming news briefs for July 12
Trial to begin for man accused of 19 sex crimes
GILLETTE — A convicted sex offender accused of 19 sex crimes in Campbell County is scheduled to go to trial this week on the charges.
Terrill Kim Morris, aka Terril Kim Morris, 56, has maintained his innocence of the alleged crimes that involve sexual abuse of two boys. He also is charged with eight counts of child pornography.
Morris is a registered sex offender from Washington state who spent 10 years in prison for molesting several pre-pubescent boys and 22 years in “civil commitment” in Washington in an effort to rehabilitate him back to society. He was released in January 2019 and moved to Gillette, according to court documents.
But in March 2020, police began investigating him after a child displayed behavior in school that indicated he had been a victim of sexual abuse told his counselor that, “I’m not supposed to tell anyone.”
He told another counselor of sexual intrusion that hurt, which had happened “billions and billions of times,” according to an affidavit of probable cause.
In a separate case, Morris also is accused of inappropriately touching a boy who he had befriended by putting cream on his buttocks.
In both cases, he is accused of helping the boys urinate and taking showers with them or bathing them even though the boys were old enough to urinate and bathe on their own, according to the affidavit.
216 energy project to get CARES money
CASPER — The $12 million in CARES Act funding allocated for the second round of the Energy Rebound Program will be distributed among 216 selected projects, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission announced Friday.
Gov. Mark Gordon established the Energy Rebound Program last November in an effort to spur development and generate jobs in the struggling oil and gas industry. The program reimburses up to $500,000 per project for three types of activities interrupted by the pandemic-fueled energy market collapse: completing unfinished wells, redrilling existing wells and reclaiming abandoned wells.
“What this program was designed to do is really try to jumpstart those projects that, because of COVID, maybe didn’t quite make economic sense,” said Ryan McConnaughey, communications director for the Petroleum Association of Wyoming.
In the first round of the program, which was administered by the Wyoming Business Council, 292 oil and gas projects received $30 million in CARES Act dollars. During last year’s cycle, Gordon doubled the original sum of $15 million in response to high demand.
This year, even though 744 of the 864 proposed projects submitted between June 15 and June 25 were found to be eligible for the program, the available funding did not change. Roughly one-third of proposals were selected to receive support and can have their work reimbursed through the end of the year.
In most cases, a grant of up to $500,000 won’t cover entire projects. Most companies chosen for the program still have to source funding for any remaining costs independently.
UW offers incentives for vaccination
GILLETTE — The University of Wyoming is preparing for the upcoming school year by announcing an incentive program to encourage students to get a COVID-19 vaccination with a grand prize being a semester’s worth of tuition and fees.
Other prizes include cash, a campus parking pass, pregame football sideline passes and dinner with President Ed Seidel, according to a UW press release.
Vaccinations are not required for UW students or employees but strongly encouraged.
“We hope these incentives will help motivate our students to receive the vaccines, which have been proven to be highly effective and safe, and are key to successfully managing the COVID-19 pandemic,” Seidel said in the press release. “Regardless of where they’re spending the summer, the vaccine is likely readily available to our students in their local communities. For those who aren’t yet vaccinated or who haven’t reported their vaccinations to the university, these prizes provide another reason to take action now.”
Two winners will be drawn from all students who provide documentation of full COVID-19 vaccination (meaning two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, one dose of Johnson & Johnson) to receive up to $4,500. The first drawing will take place during the week of Aug. 23, and the second drawing will take place during the week of Sept. 27. Another two winners of this grand prize will be selected before the end of the spring semester.
Another drawing will happen those same weeks to give one winner an “A” parking permit, which are usually reserved for faculty and staff members, and is worth $210.
Tribal attorney asks to be dismissed from lawsuit
RIVERTON — The Northern Arapaho Tribe’s attorney has asked a federal court to dismiss civil fraud and racketeering allegations filed against him by a Lander law group on May 21.
Baldwin, Crocker, and Rudd, the Lander law firm that represented the tribe until June 2019, claimed that attorney Keith Harper and Atlanta-based law firm Kilpatrick, Townsend and Stockton defrauded the Arapaho people for personal gain and demonstrated a pattern of racketeering.
KTS no longer represents the tribe, but Harper, who now works for Jenner and Block, still does. Harper and KTS filed a memorandum to a motion to dismiss the complaint on June 21, claiming throughout that BCR’s accusations lack definition and underpinning.
Much of BCR’s complaint against Harper and his former employer stems back to an Aug. 5, 2019, YouTube video in which Harper announced to the Northern Arapaho people that BCR was withholding the tribe’s own documents and about $1 million of its funds.
The Northern Arapaho Tribe filed a lawsuit with those same complaints on July 29, 2019. Wyoming District Court Judge Thomas Campbell ruled on the suit that BCR could not have had the tribe’s $1 million at that time, according to the accounting evidence.
Campbell then sanctioned the Tribe for making an “improper” filing and ordered it to pay BCR’s attorney fees in the suit.
In asking the federal court to dismiss the new charges of fraud and racketeering against them, Harper and KTS stated that they weren’t the lawyers on the 2019 case whose claim Campbell called improper.