Chad Daybell allegedly sexually assaulted a female author with whom he worked while they were in a private meeting in December 2018, an incident that was part of a pattern of inappropriate and sometimes "predatory" behavior toward women, multiple sources told Inside Edition Digital.
Julie Rowe is an author who published multiple books with Chad between 2014 and 2017. She said that during a meeting and energy healing session with him in Rexburg, Idaho in mid-December 2018, Chad forcibly kissed her, got on top of her and while they were clothed, rubbed his genitals against her body.
"I had no idea that he was going to do what he did to me, and I felt very betrayed," Rowe told Inside Edition Digital of the incident, which she has not spoken about publicly before. "I felt used, abused, manipulated. I felt betrayed. It was awful."
Rowe did not report her sexual assault allegations to police. Inside Edition Digital confirmed with two people that Rowe shared her account of what happened at the time she said it occurred. Those individuals were a member of her security team and Eric Smith, an Idaho-based author.
Rowe claimed the assault by Chad during the December meeting came after he made an inappropriate comment to her over the phone in October 2018. Rowe, who is married with children, said that other than riding in a car with Chad two times during the course of their working relationship, she had never been alone with him before, and was shocked by his behavior. Chad's attorney, John Prior, did not respond to Inside Edition Digital's requests for comment about Rowe's allegations.
Smith, who said he once considered Chad a friend, now believes Chad used his spiritual knowledge and gifts to "lure" women in.
"This ability he had to present himself as a real pious person with humility—like a guru—I think he used that. I think he worked that angle on people," Smith told Inside Edition Digital.
"He was sort of preying on their religious backgrounds and beliefs and spirituality," Smith added. "I know Chad is a gifted person spiritually, he does see things, I know he does, and I've tested him on that and we have some very special conversations on spiritual matters. But when you start to use those gifts to take advantage of people, I think that's pretty sick and I think you've crossed a line there."
The member of Rowe's security team, who asked that his name not be published, said he witnessed Chad manipulate women at the five or six conferences he attended where Chad spoke.
"Chad was using this doctrine to groom women, to get them to do something that normally they wouldn't do," the security team member said. "Or in other words, give up their creative power to him, for his own gain. He was no longer following the creator's plan of agency, but he was trying to get women to do things that would give him more power."
Cult of personality
Chad rose to prominence as an author and publisher after writing fictional books for a largely Mormon audience, including ones that depicted life in an apocalyptic United States before the second coming of Jesus Christ. Lisa, a woman from Utah who asked Inside Edition Digital not to use her real name, said she met Chad in 2007 or 2008 after reading several of his books, and helped organize speaking events for him where he would sell them.
"When I first met him, I didn't suspect anything. We were selling his books and he was happy to get money. I liked his writing style, other people did too," Lisa told Inside Edition Digital. "Women would ask him for advice, and I don't know if men did, but I know women would ask for his advice because they felt he had some insight maybe they didn't."
Lisa said she was interested in his views on signs to watch for ahead of the second coming of Jesus.
"There are certain events, a sequence of events, and because he put it into a fictional story and people are looking forward to that happening, I think what gathered people in was that type of thing. They're looking for some types of clues or information about getting closer to the second coming of Christ," Lisa said.
While men attended these events too, Lisa said, there was a large group of women interested in Chad's work. Rowe's security team member and Smith observed the same trend.
"Women tend to be a lot at these meetings because they're more in tune with their emotions, with the energy of what's going on, more empathetic," the security team member said. "They would always come to him. Sometimes he would have a table with his books, and be talking. I observed that sometimes he would stand to the side and talk privately, and a few times he would talk privately to just a single woman or a group of women."
Smith said he attended several events in people's homes where Chad spoke, and one of them was organized by a small group of women in Rexburg who were interested in talking about polygamy.
"They were the ones that hosted Chad at one of these particular events, and he was kind of clinging around them. He liked them, I could tell," Smith said. "I kind of sensed, in some of those conversations, they were discussing some yucky stuff. I honestly don't know if Chad had conversations with them about those things, but I do know that there are little groups of women, different groups, that were interested in those really fringe things that are pretty inappropriate and divisive for families."
Rowe and Smith said Chad made lists of who he believed people had been in their past lives. Rowe said during meetings at the Brigham Young University Idaho campus, Chad would share those lists with her.
"Every time I'd see him, a month later, there would be like more and more people on this list," she explained. "He would try to use my gifts to ask questions and to see if I would confirm for him some of what he was being told."
In addition to mapping people's past lives, Chad was also assigning people numbers related to their "estate level" or "ascension level" and whether their spirit was light or dark, Rowe said. In an Oct. 30, 2018 email obtained by FOX 10 Phoenix from Chad to Lori, Chad ranked Lori's family, including her husband, Charles Vallow, and children, JJ, Tylee and Colby Ryan. Rowe said Chad had sent her a similar list ranking her own family members.
But Rowe said she was disturbed by Chad's lists, believing it was not his place to judge people in that way. Her husband expressed his concerns, too.
"I was really disturbed that he was ranking people in the church and people in his ward," Rowe said.
But other people seemed to be fascinated about Chad's views on their past lives, which are also called "multiple probations." Smith helped organize two speaking engagements for Chad at homes in the Rexburg area, and said people were especially interested when Chad told them they had been a famous person, like Joan of Arc, in a past life.
"He was a self-appointed prophet or something to these people. He would make appointments, and go over to their home, and present their little life history to them. That'd be pretty cool, right?" Smith said. "You'd know who you were, and when you lived and where, and what you did. That's pretty appealing to people. I could count on two hands, probably, people that I know personally that he did that with, including me."
Chad's soft-spoken, humble demeanor was also part of his appeal, the security team member said.
"He was always very careful, and he used the awkwardness, the social awkwardness to his advantage to kind of dupe people," he said. "He even had the persona of being a little bit overweight, bad haircut, dressed kind of like a socially awkward person."
At the bigger conferences, women approached Chad to ask about their past lives, too, the security team member said.
"These women would want to know things, and he put himself out there like he could see things, so they would say, 'Well, who was I?' Having multiple lives is not a new doctrine," he said. "There's many religions that believe in it a lot. And lots of people believe in it. It's not uncommon. What's uncommon is what Chad did with it."
Looking for someone
It was at one of those events in St. George, Utah, in the fall of 2018 that Chad met Lori Vallow, a married mother of three from Arizona. Chad told Lori that they had been married in a past life, according to their friend, Melanie Gibb.
Lisa said Lori started helping sell Chad's books at the event, where Lisa also had a booth, and "Lori was really flirty with him."
But in this life, Chad and Lori were also married — to different people. Still, Chad and Lori quickly became close, Gibb told EastIdahoNews.com, and one of the three cellphones Lori used was just for Chad. Rowe said Chad also asked her to call him on this separate phone, something she found odd.
Lisa traveled from Utah to attend the Mesa, Arizona Preparing a People conference where Chad was speaking the weekend before Thanksgiving in 2018. To save money on hotel rooms, Lori offered to let Lisa, Chad, Gibb and others stay overnight at her Gilbert, Arizona, home while her husband and children were out of town.
Lisa said the group of all women and Chad made cookies and talked the night before the conference, which was held on Nov. 16 and 17.
Then, Lisa said, she walked in on Chad and Lori discussing the sleeping arrangements in the kitchen. Chad said he planned to sleep in Lori's son's room, but seemed nervous, she said. Lisa said she had never seen Chad behave inappropriately toward women, and only later realized why he seemed uncomfortable.
"I only got the end part of it, but all I knew was he was concerned that people would see him there at the house, even though he was in the bedroom. And I thought, 'Well, so what?'" Lisa said. "But now I see why he was concerned. If you look back, you go, 'Oh, that's why, because they were having an affair.'"
Rowe said when she first met Chad in 2014, he was professional and appropriate, and she observed that he seemed to love his wife, Tammy.
Rowe and Chad had originally connected on LDS AVOW, an online end-times preparedness website, in February of that year. Rowe said she had decided to write about the dreams and visions she had after a near-death experience in 2004, during which she spent two and a half days in a comatose state.
Chad had written books about his own near-death experiences, and Rowe said she and Chad bonded over talking about them. She said she trusted Chad and became close with Tammy as well from 2014 to 2018. But in 2018, she started noticing some shifts in Chad but believed they were meant to continue publishing books.
"My husband knew very early on that Chad was off, and he would actually say to me, 'Are you sure you can trust Chad?' I'm like, 'Well, I don't trust everything he says, and I don't agree with what he's writing and what he's doing, but God brought us together,'" Rowe said.
In December of 2018, Rowe and Chad met at a restaurant in Idaho Falls for a breakfast meeting about publishing. Later that day, they met privately for an energy healing session in Rexburg; Rowe does energy work. That's when she said the sexual assault occurred. Rowe said Chad cried after he assaulted her and that she tried to talk to him about his behavior later that day and in a series of text messages that December.
After the alleged sexual misconduct, Rowe said, she came to believe that Chad had been "grooming" her and using discussions about spiritual beliefs to get close to and use her.
Then, Rowe said, she confronted Chad about the alleged misconduct in several text messages in early 2019.
"In February, I confronted him on what he had done to me in December and what he had been doing to me all along when I finally woke up to the fact that he was using me and using my gifts," Rowe said. "It was unfathomable to me that he would use me like that, and when I confronted him on his patriarchal energy, which is, in my opinion, abusive energy, and his abuse of me and my gifts and using me, then he basically sent a text back and said, 'Wow, you really know how to burn bridges. I can't believe you. You don't know me at all.'"
That December meeting was the last time Rowe ever saw Chad in person. Rowe was working on her podcast, writing an autobiography, Rising Above the Flames, and growing her nonprofit organization, the Greater Tomorrow Relief Fund. Rowe said she texted Chad about publishing rights issues during the spring of 2019. After she wrote him a handwritten letter in the summer of 2019, she said, Chad called her in the fall and said something that disturbed her.
"Three weeks before Tammy dies, he said to me, and he was in this frustrated voice, 'My plan can't move forward until Tammy's dead,' or 'until Tammy dies,'" Rowe said, explaining she believes Chad was referring to his "life plan," or the plan that God had for him. "I was disheartened, I was very disturbed by that."
On Oct. 19, Tammy was found dead at the couple's home in Rexburg. Chad and Lori wed weeks later in Hawaii.
While Tammy's death was ruled to be from natural causes, her body was exhumed and the results of an autopsy are still pending, according to authorities. Chad and Lori are now under investigation by the Idaho Attorney General's office for "conspiracy, attempted murder and/or murder." Neither Chad nor Lori have been charged with any crime in connection to Tammy's death and both deny any wrongdoing.
Both Chad and Lori are now being held on $1 million bail, facing felony charges in the disappearance of Lori's two children, JJ and Tylee, who were last seen in September. Lori faces felony charges of deserting them, and Chad faces felony charges of willfully destroying, concealing or altering evidence after human remains found on his property were identified as his wife's missing children.
Chad and Lori have pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
Those who knew Chad are struggling to reconcile the person who has been accused of these crimes with the person they knew. But there were signs, Rowe said.
"When I think of somebody who's predatory towards women, and I think of how Chad has fit that, I look at all of the women who believed that he was working for the light side," Rowe said. "I believe for a time he was, but people change."
Smith said he is now being ostracized by some in his family because he was once friends with Chad.
"It's unfortunate how many lives can be affected by one choice," he said. "It just makes me wonder if Chad just had unfulfilled desires, and then, mix that with the gifts and the position and status and his ability to appeal to people, and it just created this perfect firestorm of scandal."