Man ordered to stand trial in gropings at University of Utah
SALT LAKE CITY — Since that November night when a University of Utah junior was sexually assaulted on campus in a parking lot near the library, she said no longer feels safe anywhere.
"After this attack, everywhere became uncomfortable to me," she testified Monday in 3rd District Court. "I was scared, I was violated, I felt extremely frightened. I have never felt such terror in my entire life."
Her alleged attacker trapped her in her car, she said, as he touched her, insisting amid her screams that: "You know you like it." She was so hysterical after the incident that the police officers who rendered her aid continue to call and check on her to this day.
"It was a state of shock," she said. "A state of complete pain."
The assault on the junior was the final act of a man whose behavior allegedly escalated through the course of the day on Nov. 4, 2011, leaving at least five alleged victims.
After hearing the testimony of four of the victims and reading the testimony from a fifth, 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg ordered Gary Winston Fotheringham, 31, to stand trial on three counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony, and two counts of voyeurism, a class B misdemeanor.
The witnesses testified about incidents that began in a woman's locker room on the U. campus that Nov. 4 morning and escalated to an assault that night of the U. junior in the parking lot.
Two women said they saw a man in the locker room of the Marriott School of Dance while changing into dance clothing around 8 a.m. One said she initially thought he had come from the nearby men's locker room, but then realized that he was peeking around a wall to peer into a women's changing area being utilized by several students. She left to get a teacher and believed he was gone once she returned until she saw him through a crack in the bathroom stalls.
The man eventually flushed the toilet and walked out of the room, evading the teacher "by a hair." That woman was the only one of the three who was not able to identify Fotheringham in court as the man she saw.
An economics major, however, definitively said it was Fotheringham who came up behind her while she was collecting her backpack after studying in Orson Spencer Hall around 4 p.m. The man put one hand on her shoulder and used the other to touch her breasts over her clothing and held his hand there.
She said she was so stunned that she didn't react until he removed his hand moments later. She started yelling at him in en effort to learn who he was and get an explanation for what he was doing. When he didn't answer, she pursued the man.
"I wanted to know who he was," she said. "I thought it was very ridiculous behavior, so I wanted to confront him. ... I wanted to let him know it wasn't appropriate."
She eventually determined it was more effective to find help and filed a police report soon after. Sometime between then and 7 p.m., a fourth woman who was not in court, reported being assaulted by the Pie Pizzeria near 300 South and 1300 East. She said she was also touched over her clothing and was held in a bear hug by her attacker.
Finally, around 7 p.m., the U. junior was returning to her car from the library when she saw a man in dark clothing heading directly toward her. She hurried to her car and was attempting to close her door when the man blocked her way. Despite her protests and offers of her personal items, she said she was only spared by the footsteps of a passerby and the sound of her car alarm.
"(He) didn't want my wallet, (he) didn't want my phone," she said of the man who attacked her. "This was an assault."
She managed to bite the man's hand before the noises prompted him to run. University Police Sgt. Mike Richards said police records later led him to suspect Fotheringham. The man, who was connected to a campus voyeurism case a few years earlier, was then identified from a photo lineup.
When he went to talk to Fotheringham at his place of work on Nov. 10, 2011, Richards said he noticed the man had a wound on the index finger of his right hand. Inside Fotheringham's car was a jacket similar to the one the U. junior described. Richards said the man's alibi of meeting with his parole officer didn't check out either, because the man was not on parole.
Fotheringham was arrested Dec. 2. His attorneys argued Monday that the man's presence in the women's locker room didn't amount to voyeurism and said one of the assaults was not forcible sexual abuse, but a lesser charge of sexual battery.
Lindberg said the man attacked her at a time when she was alone and vulnerable and it had the same effect. "There is a feeling of being shocked and violated," the judge said.
An arraignment hearing has been set for March 26.
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