Editor’s note: An earlier version of this news article included video and a still image of a man in a blue shirt and other people walking on campus at Brigham Young University. The man and the other individuals in the video and image are not connected to the arrest and charges reported in the news article.
PROVO, Utah - A man was arrested after he inappropriately touched two teenage girls who were attending a church youth camp at Brigham Young University last week, according to police.
Dennis Lee Yazzie, 64, was booked in the Utah County Jail Friday and was later officially charged with two 2nd-degree felony counts of forcible sexual abuse.
Officers with BYU Police said they were called Friday afternoon by an adult counselor at Especially For Youth (EFY) , which is a week-long summer program for teenage members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The counselor said a man groped two teenage girls, and he pointed the officers in the direction of an on-campus building where the suspect had gone.
A police officer said he was asking Yazzie where he had been recently and who he had talked to when he said, seemingly unprompted, "I'm no pervert." The officer wrote in the arrest report that he did not say or ask Yazzie anything that would prompt him to make such a statement.
"When I asked him to explain that further," the officer wrote, "he said he did not touch any kids, that he has grandkids, and he would not touch any kids."
The 21-year-old EFY counselor told police that he saw Yazzie, who appeared to be homeless, asking teens at the event for money. He said he told him the church would help him, but not there at the youth conference. Then, he said he saw Yazzie touch one of the teenage girls inappropriately and told him he needed to leave.
Police spoke with the two girls who said Yazzie touched them. They both said he was holding his hands out and asking for money before he groped them.
The first, a 16-year-old, said the man approached her while she was in line to get lunch. She said his hand initially brushed up against her, and she couldn't tell if it was an accident or not, but then she said he touched her inappropriately over her shirt in a way that she said was clearly intentional.
The other alleged victim was a 17-year-old girl who said she did not see Yazzie approach her but that he was next to her in a lunch line. She said he was asking for money with his hands out, then touched her underneath her shirt.
A teenage boy who witnessed one of the alleged incidents said Yazzie was about to touch another teenage girl until the counselor confronted him.
"While Mr. Yazzie's actions negatively impacted the two females he assaulted, his actions were witnessed by many of the young women and young men at the event," a probable cause affidavit read. "[His] actions impacted, alarmed, and caused concern for many individuals at the event."
Yazzie's bail was set at $5,000. As of Tuesday night, the county jail roster showed that he was still in custody.