Man accused of groping teens at BYU event charged with felony sex abuse

Jul 12, 2022, 6:59 PM | Updated: 7:02 pm
BYU's Harmon Conference Center (Google Earth Pro)...
BYU's Harmon Conference Center (Google Earth Pro)
(Google Earth Pro)

PROVO, Utah — Two teen girls attending a conference for teens at BYU said they were touched inappropriately by a man they didn’t know who approached them while they waited in a food line. A suspect has been arrested and charged.

The incident happened at a a university continuing education EFY program outside a campus building while they were in a group.

Dennis Lee Yazzie is in police custody, arrested and charged with two counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony, according to Utah County’s 4th District Court. Yazzie was picked up by police while he was at the BYU Laundry Building.

One teen girl told investigators an unknown man “appeared out of nowhere” while she was in line to get food on the east side of Brigham Young University’s Harmon Conference Center. She said he approached her with his palms turned up asking for money. She told police his hands brushed her and she wasn’t sure if his touch was intentional but after that he touched her a second time in a way that made her sure it was intentional.

She told police it happened so quickly that she was shocked and bothered by it.

Another teen girl said she did not see the man approach but that he was next to her in the lunch line and then he touched her and she was sure it was intentional. A camp counselor told police he witnessed the incident and thought Yazzie was homeless and was asking for money from the teens. The counselor told the man he could get Church help but not at the EFY event.

The 21-year-old counselor reportedly told the man he could not touch girls like that and needed to leave. A teen boy who also saw the events told police the touching was intentional and that if the counselor had not approached the man he would have struck him. He also told police the man was about to touch a third victim when the counselor intervened.

Officers who were patrolling the area were flagged down and told by the counselor that a man who touched the girls inappropriately had entered the BYU Laundry building nearby. They found Yazzie, who they said matched the victim’s and witnesses’ descriptions.

Yazzie told police he traveled to the campus by bus and he eventually told police he spoke with “a bunch of girls” and said “girls were everywhere.”

Probable cause documents state:

“Without making any statements or asking any questions that would prompt this statement, Mr. Yazzie said “I’m no pervert.” When I asked him to explain that further he said he did not touch any kids, that he has grandkids, and he would not touch any kids. These statements were concerning given the discussion preceeding these statements.”

Arrested on suspicion of sexual battery class A misdemeanor, on July 8, he was then officially charged with the sex abuse felonies. Documents state Yazzie wasn’t available for an initial court appearance due to medical reasons. His hearing will be conducted remotely, scheduled for Thursday.

Police said Yazzie’s actions were not only negative experience for the teen girls but other teens attending the event.

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Man accused of groping teens at BYU event charged with felony sex abuse