Victims speak after man allegedly gropes several women in Utah County

Posted at 8:36 PM, Sep 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-28 23:35:50-04

UTAH COUNTY -- Another woman was nearly attacked in the Provo Canyon area, and the incident occurred after three other women were possibly groped by the same man, according to Provo and Orem police.

All of the incidents happened Monday morning. The three women were Groped between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m., and the other woman was almost attacked around 9:30 a.m.

Heidi Thomas said a man followed her into a small bathroom along the Timpanogos Park trail.

"He came in that bathroom with intentions to hurt me in whatever way," Thomas said.

Knowing her husband Mat Thomas had jogged ahead of her, she was alone with this possibly dangerous stranger. She used her college self-defense classes to protect herself.

"I just looked right in his eyes and I just, 'What are you doing?' I yelled really loud, and it must have been my adrenaline pumping but I shoved him really hard," she said. "I went right at him."

That wasn't the end of it. As they got on the phone with police, they watched him follow another woman into another bathroom across the park from them at Canyon View Park.

"That's when we saw him, and he came from out from the restroom he had been hiding in, and he went straight for that door from where she had just entered," Thomas said.

Both Heidi and Mat were able to talk loudly enough at a safe distance to scare the guy away from entering the bathroom.

All of this happened just hours after three women jogging three miles away were groped by a stranger. When police told Heidi they were looking for a groper from earlier, that confirmed her life could have been in danger and she was right to be defensive.

Another alleged victim also spoke about the incidents.

"There is a man running towards us, and as he gets closer he puts up his hand like he is going to wave or something, and I almost start to wave back and he grabs my chest, keeps running," BYU student Sage Hassell said.

Hassell is on BYU's triathlon team, and her team runs that trail frequently. She and her two friends were on that trail when the man groped her.

"I was just in pure shock, I looked over at my friends and I couldn't believe what just happened," Hassell said.

She said next time she will plan to run with guys. She was surprised someone would do that when she was with two other girls.

Provo police said that man groped two other women running like Hassell and said he kept on running in each case. All three women reported it to police.

The suspect in both cases has a similar description, and Heidi posted a picture of him and a warning to her friends about what happened to her in the bathroom at Timpanogos trail.

The suspect is described as a white male who stands 5-feet, 10-inches tall and has a medium build. He has short, blond hair and a short beard. He was seen wearing black running tights and black shirt with a jacket tied around his waist.

Anyone with information about the alleged crimes or the suspect should contact police in Orem or Provo.