LOCAL NEWS

Utah man suspected of child porn now arrested for child sex abuse

Apr 19, 2022, 5:41 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 1:33 pm
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(FILE PHOTO, Deseret News)
(FILE PHOTO, Deseret News)

SANTAQUIN, Utah — A Utah County man who told police he never sexually touched children while he was under investigation for child pornography, has now been arrested on suspicion of multiple charges including sex abuse of a child.

Kevin G. Sykes, 54, of Springville, Utah, was taken into custody from a home in Santaquin, after a minor told police he was groomed and sexually abused by Sykes more than 100 times and was paid and given gifts to keep quiet about it. KSL TV’s original story about the child pornography arrest included a plea from police that anyone abused by Sykes should contact them.

Sykes worked with youth in his position in a Utah County congregation and was discovered with graphic illustrations and images of child sex on his phone but told police he made sure never to be alone with young people, including at campouts and church activities he attended with teens between 11 and 14 years old.

Documents state two others have contacted investigators about abuse from Sykes that happened over 30 years ago.

After the initial arrest, investigators interviewed a victim who said he was touched by Sykes many times and that Sykes forcibly tried to engage in other sexual activities while isolating him in a truck in Provo Canyon. The minor teen said in the Provo Canyon instance, Sykes tried to have sex with him he struck him hard with a belt, which was related to search terms previously found on Sykes phone.

“It should be noted that on a previous search of the data from Kevin’s cell phone, several
pictures of people being spanked was found,” court documents state. “There were also web searched of ‘images of boys who have been beaten whipped,’ ‘child belt beating scars.’ ”

On the specific abuse account mentioned in the affidavit, the miner ran from Sykes to escape an escalation of abuse. The victim also said after the sexual assault in Provo Canyon he was given $500 to keep quiet and estimated Sykes had given him approximately $15,000 over the course of a few years not to report the abuse. He said the abuse started when he was 13.

Sykes was booked into jail on the following charges:

  • Forcible sodomy, 1st degree felony
  • Human trafficking, 1st degree felony
  • Sexual abuse of a minor, class A misdemeanor
  • Child abuse involving physical injury, class A misdemeanor
  • Obstructing justice, class  A misdemeanor

In affidavit of probable cause court documents Sykes was established as a person of trust with the teen while the victim’s parents were both out of his life. There had even been conversations of Sykes acting as foster parent for the victim. Documents said because he was a person of trust, the human trafficking charge was included.

The victim also provided investigators with a phone that he said was a gift for keeping quiet about the abuse and said Sykes paid the bill for it and told the teen many times that because he was being paid, he couldn’t report the abuse.

Deputies who arrested Sykes said he refused to go with them and jammed himself in a doorway, forcing a physical confrontation. Amanda Freer, 34 and a relative, was also arrested and charged with assault on a peace officer and obstruction of justice for her alleged actions during the arrest. She has been released on bail.

The documents also state:

It should be noted that since Kevin’s release after bonding out on his previous case and this arrest, Kevin has been seen in public by a Law Enforcement Officer with an unknown 14-15 year old male. I have also been contacted by two other males that reported being victimized by Kevin almost 30 years ago. Due to the evidence in Kevin’s previous arrest and the information in this case I feel Kevin is a danger to the public and the children of this county and requesting Kevin be held in jail with no bail.

KSL 5 TV Live

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Utah man suspected of child porn now arrested for child sex abuse