Utah farm owner faces human trafficking probe after video

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The president of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation, Ron B. Gibson, will take a leave of absence after allegedly assaulting an employee at Gibson’s farm in Weber County, Utah, on Aug. 8. Gibson is also under investigation for human trafficking and fraud following the incident, according to the Weber County Sheriff’s Office.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed by the employee, he and other co-workers had not been given their last four paychecks. They confronted Gibson about the matter, which led to a physical altercation.

A video released by KSL News shows Gibson, 50, telling an employee to “shut up” before hitting him in the face with the back of his hand. The injury required further medical attention, according to the police statement.

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Gibson’s employees told KSL about unlivable conditions on the farm, where 14 people live in a house with the smell of urine and feces due to an overflowing septic tank. One worker said they work from morning till sundown, “while Rob goes on trips and adventures and [the workers] don’t have money to eat.”

Gibson was booked into the Weber County Jail on one count of assault, but has since been released.

The sheriff’s office said in a news release that the investigation into Gibson was ongoing and included other allegations.

“The investigation has also brought to light allegations of fraud and human trafficking, which are currently being thoroughly investigated by the Department of Public Safety’s Special Bureau of Investigation,” the news release said.

This was followed by a statement from the Utah Farm Bureau Federation announcing Gibson’s leave of absence “following an incident involving an employee on his farm.”

In that same statement, Gibson apologized, stating, “I’m disappointed in myself. I have deep respect for the men and women willing to work on farms across America, including mine. I simply could not manage the farm without their help, and we wouldn’t have the abundance we do in this country without them.”

Teresa Romero, president of United Farm Workers, shared a statement on the incident with De Los:

“This situation is disturbing and unfortunately not that uncommon. The courage of these workers is remarkable. They clearly are facing retaliation including physical violence but they’re still working to hold this man accountable.

“This man is the head of the Utah Farm Bureau. He is supposed to be a leader in his community — but the only ones showing leadership are the workers brave enough to stand up to him.

People who abuse the workers who feed this country should face the harshest penalties possible.”

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