Brandon Lee Elder was charged Thursday with attempted sexual abuse and obstructing justice.

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake man was charged Thursday with sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl at Liberty Park.

Brandon Lee Elder, 26, was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony, and obstructing justice, a second-degree felony, in 3rd District Court.

A witness told police that on Monday, she saw a man in a blue T-shirt, black cut-off jeans and black dress shoes sitting in the bushes near the water feature at Liberty Park. The witness observed the man grab the 5-year-old girl and pull her head toward the crotch area of his pants.

The witness yelled for someone to call the police, at which point the man fled the scene on a silver BMX bike, the charges state.

Elder's mother heard the incident reported in the media and contacted police after observing her son riding his silver BMX bicycle while wearing black dress shoes and black cut-offs with no shirt, according to prosecutors.

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Elder told police he was at Liberty Park on Monday and waited near the water feature for two hours looking for a girl. He said when the girl walked by, he had a "sexual urge" to grab her, the charges state.

He also told police that after leaving the park, he threw his blue T-shirt into a garbage can to avoid being connected to the incident. Police located the shirt on top of a trash can at 1362 S. 600 East.

Court records show that Elder has a history of sex-related crimes. In 2008 and 2005 he was charged and later pleaded guilty to attempted sexual battery, a class B misdemeanor. In 2006 he pleaded guilty to a class B misdemeanor charge of battery for an incident that occurred in 2004.

Benjamin Wood