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Provo Police search for suspect accused of sex assault near Rock Canyon trail head

Posted at 1:16 PM, Nov 10, 2017

PROVO, Utah -- Police are looking for a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman after he trapped her in a public restroom at the Rock Canyon Trailhead in Provo and threatened her with a large knife Monday night.

It’s a violent attack that hikers in the area say is out of the ordinary and concerning.

“I was really surprised,” said Elizabeth Finlayson of Provo. “I come up here pretty often after dark. I see a lot of people even at night. There are a lot of people rock climbing, it’s not isolated.”

A small group of friends hit the trail late Monday night. They didn't get far when a young woman decided to run back to use the restroom.

“She backtracked the trail to the restroom, someone emerged from the darkness and followed her down the trail into the restroom,” said Lt. Brian Taylor of the Provo Police Department.

Police say once the woman got into the restroom a man trapped her inside, threatened her with a knife, and forced her to undress.

“While complying with his instructions she used her phone to dial one of her hiking companions and left the line open: That person heard what was happening in the restroom,” Lt. Taylor said.

Her friend rushed to the restroom and confronted the suspect, who ran away.

“It seems like that decision allowed her friend to come to her aide and prevented what could have been a much worse sexual assault,” Lt. Taylor said.

Now police want to find the suspect. He's described as a white man in his 20s who stands about 6-feet tall and weighs about 185 pounds.

The man has acne scars on his face and his front teeth are filed flat. His knife was large and curved with a wildlife motif on it.

“I’m here almost weekly and I can't believe something like this would happen here,” said Morgan Evans of Salt Lake City.

Now hikers are on the lookout.

“For sure we'll keep an eye out. Vigilance is the price of safety, so staying in groups and keep each others’ back,” Evans said.

Finlayson agrees.

“I might buy some pepper spray,” she said.

Anyone who recognizes the suspect or who has information about the case should contact Provo Police at 801-852-6255.