Branden Markham</I>

PROVO — A Pleasant Grove man already charged with sexual assault is now being investigated for rape after a new victim came to police this week.

A 17-year-old girl contacted the Utah County Sex Crimes Task Force on Tuesday to report that she had been raped May 29.

The man being investigated in connection with that incident, 18-year-old Branden Markham, is awaiting trial in a separate case. He was charged earlier this month with three counts of aggravated sexual assault, a first degree felony, in an incident that police say happened on June 3 in Spanish Fork Canyon.

According to Utah County Sex Crimes Task Force detective Jeff Wabel, the 17-year-old girl who came in Tuesday said that at first she didn't feel like she could or should report the incident. He said that once the victim heard that Markham had been arrested in the other incident, she came forward after some encouragement by a friend's mother. The girl first contacted Pleasant Grove police, who referred her to the task force.

Wabel said the incident appears to be another in a growing number of cases he sees where sexual relations are becoming more accepted among friends in cliques or groups. He said it could be referred to as "having friends with benefits," and that "the situation has blossomed, or decayed, from there," especially when alcohol is introduced into the mix.

"One thing leads to another, and we have a victim," he said.

The teen told police that Markham raped her at his house late in the evening or early morning of approximately May 29 after he called her up and invited her over, according to 4th District Court affidavit of probable cause. She said Markham told her he was depressed after a failed relationship and wanted someone to talk to. According to the affidavit, she went to Markham's around midnight and noticed he had been drinking.

She told police that after a while, Markham attempted to kiss her, but she resisted and he apologized, according to the affidavit. She said the two then huffed compressed air, according to the affidavit.

The victim told police she then became dizzy and, while she could still stand and walk, Markham appeared to stumble over her and knock her onto his bed, according to the affidavit. She told police he raped her, even though she protested numerous times and struggled to free herself, according to the affidavit.

In the other case, which occurred on June 3, Markham allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in Spanish Fork Canyon while the two of them were camping with another couple, according to affidavit of probable cause in that case. The woman was allegedly awakened in the night after drinking to find Markham taking off her clothes. He then allegedly attempted to engage in sex with the woman before she was able to escape, according to the affidavit. He remains incarcerated in the Utah County Jail on those charges.

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