LOCAL NEWS

Judge denies bail in rape case of man who ran Facebook group for singles

Oct 11, 2022, 8:49 PM | Updated: Nov 19, 2022, 12:02 am
A judge denied bail Tuesday for a Fruit Heights man who ran a popular Facebook group for singles an...
A judge denied bail Tuesday for a Fruit Heights man who ran a popular Facebook group for singles and is charged with sexually assaulting women at a singles event in August. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News)
(Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

FARMINGTON, Utah — The former administrator of a popular Facebook group used for inviting singles to parties and other events will continue being held in jail without bail on rape charges, a judge ordered Tuesday.

Kevin Linford, 45, of Fruit Heights, was booked into the Davis County Jail on Aug. 30 and later charged with rape and object rape, first-degree felonies.

He is also charged with three counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony; aggravated kidnapping, a third-degree felony; and lewdness, a class B misdemeanor.

Linford is accused of pulling one woman into a closet during an Aug. 6 party and raping her, and then sexually assaulting a second woman at the same event. Both women said they did not know Linford before the event.

Prosecutor Matthew Hansen said during Tuesday’s bail hearing that a third victim has since come forward. This woman told police that during the same Aug. 6 gathering, Linford followed her into a bathroom and sexually assaulted her, Hansen said.

The same day as his arrest, Linford was ordered to be held without bail after a judge agreed with the arresting officer that Linford could victimize other women if released, court records show.

But during Tuesday’s bail hearing, defense attorney Staci Visser argued that the alleged victims’ accounts are contradictory and therefore not reliable.

“What these women are saying occurred did not occur,” Visser said, adding there’s “no evidence” that Linford would be an ongoing danger if released with an ankle monitor and allowed to work.

She conceded that Linford went to Germany when the allegations first came out but said it was only to take his daughter to college. Linford immediately came back to face the accusations, Visser said, and would comply with any conditions set by the court for his release.

Additionally, Visser said Linford has a job and a residence lined up if released, and he is no longer the administrator of a Facebook page for singles that connected him with the alleged victims.

But Hansen said Linford “aggressively and forcefully” raped one victim and sexually assaulted two others, all within an hour of each other. Given Linford’s “boldness and aggressiveness,” the prosecutor said the judge couldn’t create any release conditions that would ensure the alleged victims’ safety and the community’s safety.

Second District Judge David Williams said he was “very, very troubled” by the allegations, which he found were supported by “substantial” evidence. Williams said there would be no way for him to ensure the safety of the accusers and the community if he released Linford.

“He is a danger, a substantial danger to the community,” the judge said.

Linford has not yet entered a plea. A preliminary hearing was set for Nov. 23, during which Visser said she plans on presenting several hours of evidence supporting her claim that the alleged victims’ accounts aren’t reliable.

Group rallies for victims

On Monday, more than a dozen women — many of them sexual assault survivors — gathered outside the Farmington courthouse to show support for victims of sexual assault and for the alleged victims in Linford’s case.

“It (hits) pretty close to home for a lot of us here,” said Larissa DeGraaff, one of the rally organizers.

Amber Thompson grew emotional talking about her reason for taking part in the demonstration.

“I want these women to get the justice that they need because I didn’t get justice for my case,” Thompson said. “It brings up a lot of emotions. It’s been over five years now, and this is my first time doing anything public — being with people who are also victims.”

Lori Brinkerhoff said coming out to show her support brought her uncomfortably close to the circumstances of her assault.

“My rapist lived in those apartments right there,” she said, pointing across the street. “Yeah. It’s really hard, but you know what’s harder is to hide in shame and not talk about it.”

Several of the women also called on the criminal justice system to do better in the prosecution of sex crimes.

All of the women said they hoped that their presence would let others who have experienced sexual violence know that there is a community to support them.

“That’s where you have women who are complete strangers who are showing up together,” Sarah Trujillo said. “We understand the pain and that it needs to be heard and it needs to be stopped and it can be stopped.”

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Judge denies bail in rape case of man who ran Facebook group for singles