LOCAL NEWS

BYU Police Arrest Man Suspected Of Groping Six Women

Mar 29, 2021, 4:32 PM | Updated: 11:27 pm

PROVO, Utah – Officials with the Brigham Young University Police Department announced a 26-year-old man has been arrested after five women said they were groped on campus.

Later Monday, officials with the Provo Police Department confirmed they are investigating another reported groping that did not occur on campus.

The first reported attack happened Saturday along Cougar Boulevard, and four subsequent attacks happened Sunday.

Two of the incidents took place early Saturday afternoon at Helaman Halls, between the Cannon Center and Taylor Hall, and the other two occurred approximately an hour and a half later near the Life Sciences Building.

Police said the suspect, who was later identified as Jacob Scott Hansen, could face five counts of sexual battery.

BYU released a warning Sunday after the reports, telling students to travel with a companion and report any incidents to police.

“I’m definitely just being more cautious and I would not be walking alone right now,” one female BYU student said. “I think it’s good that BYU texted everyone pretty quickly and they just explained the situation so that we’re all aware.”

That student told KSL she is not letting her friends walk around alone and ordered pepper spray and a taser after learning about the gropings on Sunday.

Police later released video and photos of the suspect from one of the incidents. In the footage from Sunday at Helaman Halls, the victim was seen walking along the sidewalk as the suspect crossed the road and approached the victim from behind.

The man then sped up, appeared to grab her and continued walking. Police said this was the same method for all five groping attacks.

“It appears from the description, from the video that we have, that this is the same person,” BYUPD Lt. Jeff Long said Monday. “His M.O. is that he’ll approach the victim from behind and then he’ll pretend to stumble or fall, and as he falls into them, he’ll touch their bodies.”

Police said these were brazen attacks and they were relieved the suspect has been arrested.

“We’re very relieved but not probably not as relieved as the victims,” Long said. “When we told them — we had a couple of them meeting with a victims’ advocate here — and you could just see the relief in them when we told them that this guy was in custody.”

Three of the women reported Hansen grabbed their buttocks, while the other two said he approached them from behind and put his arms around them.

One victim said he started tickling her. When she turned around only to realize she didn’t know the man, she screamed.

That woman told KSL-TV at first she thought it was an accident.

“I heard the footsteps get faster and I didn’t have time to process that before his hands were around my waist and he started tickling my stomach,” she said. “I turned around, still with his arms around me and it wasn’t a familiar face and then I jumped away and screamed.”

She said as the day went on, she realized it wasn’t a mistake. When she found out the man had targeted others, the reality set in. “I felt a lot more violated, knowing it was intentional,” she said. “And that’s when I really started to get shaky and angry and dealing with all these different emotions and knowing that he could have gone on and done worse.”

She was relieved to hear police had a suspect in custody. “When I was in the detective’s office and they told me that they had him in custody, I felt my shoulders relax, and I guess I’m still kind of processing in some ways, but I’m glad that he’s off the streets for sure.”

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BYU Police Arrest Man Suspected Of Groping Six Women