Rick Jones and his family have released a statement on the GoFundMe campaign that was raising money to help with costs incurred after an alleged assault, robbery, graffiti and Molotov cocktail were reported.
“Rick and his family are grateful for the expressions of support, but cannot accept this generosity. All donations are being returned to the donors.
Rick and his family are cooperating fully with the law enforcement investigation and are appreciative of Millard County and the State of Utah for their approach in this case.
While that cooperation continues, the family has no further comment at this time.”
Attorney Paul Burke, who is representing Rick Jones, says his client has “acknowledged his responsibility for what has happened.”
“This was a cry for help,” he said. Rick told the attorney today that he staged his attacks, the graffiti and the Molotov cocktail.
The attorneys asked the Millard County Sheriff’s Department to terminate the investigation of the incidents.
“We should all be impressed and heartened by the response from the governor on down in support of what looked like a crime of hate. The lieutenant governor and county law officials were all sensitive to the needs of this young man and the rest of the community,” Burke said.
“Young LGBT people and others in small communities should feel heartened that their government and citizens will rally around them in a time of need,” Burke continued. “We need to understand that it is still difficult in our state, especially in rural areas, to get acceptance for our sexual orientation from our churches and our families.”
Burke, of the Utah law firm Ray Quinney & Nebeker, offered to assist Rick when this story first went public.
Burke said he doesn’t see this as a hoax. He sees it more as a genuine cry for help.
“This was a 911 call that was misdirected, but real,” he said.
What Rick and the family did not know, was how the story would spread so far and wide. It became overwhelming.
“He’s a troubled young man that has gone through a lot in his life,” attorney Brett Tolman told Ben Winslow of Fox 13 News. “He’s a 21-year-old gay man living in Delta, Utah. In a very conservative community, in a conservative family, who love him very much but may have some issues to work through.”
Millard County Sheriff. Robert A. Dekker said that the department put a lot of time and long hours into the case, and he is “grateful to our community, and our nation as a whole, for their support of this family.”
“Don’t let that end,” he said. “They still need support.”
The sheriff’s department has been lauded by locals and Utahns in their handling of this case.
“We are a good agency with great people,” he said.
Terry Gillman, who spearheaded a caravan to the Delta, Utah restaurant owned by the Jones family, said he is proud of the community’s support.
“I’ve previously worked with gay youth at risk. When someone sounds the cry for help, we all need to answer the call,” he said. ” I am proud of the support this community showed and I’m extremely proud of the people who helped put the event in Delta together so quickly. I see no reason to shame or further subject this wonderful family to further persecution. I would hope and pray they grow from this experience together. We accomplished something great here no matter the outcome. We mobilized to help, and will continue to do so when anyone in our State needs help. We are one Utah, and hate will not stand here.”
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who went to Delta twice and offered state support of the sheriff’s efforts, released the following statement:
“I am both relieved and saddened by the news today. The original allegations were incredibly troubling, and not representative of the love and compassion the people of Utah exhibit daily. I am proud of the overwhelmingly positive response and support from Delta and every corner of our state. Today, our concern is that the young man and his family receive the love and help necessary to find the peace and healing they seek.”
The Jones family has requested privacy.