Report: Escort claims former Rep. Jon Stanard was a client (updated with comments from Legislative leaders)

The Daily Mail of London has reported that now-former Utah House member Jon Stanard resigned his post quickly Tuesday night because it was soon to become public that he met an online escort for sex twice last year.

Stanard, who lives in St. George, is married and has three children.

The Mail quotes the escort as saying she met Stanard twice, twice at a downtown Salt Lake City motel during the summer.

He paid her $250 each time.

Prostitution is illegal in Utah. And the Mail story says Stanard was one of many lawmakers who voted in the 2017 Legislature to raise the criminal penalties for the offense.

One of the text message exchanges between Stanard and the escort published by the Mail shows the date of Nov. 14. Another in mid-March.

That November date was an interim study day for the Utah Legislature last year – so Stanard would have been in town that day.

The March date is around when the 2017 Legislature ended.

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, issued a short statement Wednesday morning saying Stanard resigned for family reasons.

And the Associated Press, which exchanged emails with Stanard, quoted him as saying he was resigning to spend more time with his terminally ill father out-of-state.

The Mail story says its reporter reached out to Stanard on Tuesday night for comment – when he officially told Hughes he was resigning.

Reached Thursday morning, Hughes said he had no further specifics on the incident.

Stanard “is no longer a member of the House,” said Hughes. He declined to say whether he knew about the escort incident.

However, it is clear that GOP House leaders had some idea about the seriousness of Stanard’s situation.

Wednesday morning, one House leader told another House member, “It’s really, really bad,” when asked what had happened to make Stanard resign.

Senate Republican leadership declined official comment, but one top Senate Republican said, “I’m just sick about it.”

Stanard has been accused by House leadership of using taxpayer money during his two meetings with the alleged prostitute. Stanard was reimbursed for his hotel stays by the legislature during the two dates in question.