ST. GEORGE — A 43-year-old man was arrested Monday for allegedly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in his vehicle as her mother slept in the back seat.
Just after 6 a.m. Monday, Utah Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched on report of an assault to the northbound Interstate 15 Exit 22 on-ramp in Washington County, according to a probable cause statement filed by the Utah Highway Patrol in support of the arrest.
“When I arrived, I found a 15-year-old female standing outside of a Ford truck on the passenger’s side,” the arresting trooper wrote in a sworn statement. “I asked her what was going on and she stated that he touched her, referring to the driver. The 15-year old’s mother was in the backseat of the pickup and was visibly upset.”
The driver, identified as 43-year-old Felipe De Jesus Chavez-Banos, of West Jordan, was detained for questioning with a Spanish translator.
Authorities also questioned the mother and her daughter who said the assault occurred as they were driving along Interstate 15 through St. George.
The mother’s boyfriend, Chavez-Banos, reportedly grabbed the 15-year-old girl’s hand and started rubbing it as he told her he was “keeping her awake,” according to the statement.
When the 43-year-old man began putting his hand on the girl’s upper thigh and over her private parts, the girl told police she pushed him away, the report stated. The girl told authorities Chavez-Banos was “very forceful” in reaching for her private parts and attempting to reach under her shirt.
“The mother of the 15-year-old was asleep in the backseat and woke up and could see what Felipe was doing,” the trooper wrote in the statement. “… The mother got upset and got ahold (sic) of the phone and attempted to call 911. Felipe swatted the phone from her hands and told them not to call police.”
At some point, the mother and daughter were able to get hold of the phone and call 911, the report stated.
When questioned, according to the statement, Chavez-Banos allegedly admitted to touching the girl’s leg and arm, but told authorities he didn’t touch any private places on the girl.
Chavez-Banos was arrested and transported to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
The Washington County Attorney’s Office filed an information in 5th District Court accusing Chavez-Banos of two second-degree felony counts of forcible sexual abuse; a class B misdemeanor count of damaging a communication device; and an infraction for never obtaining a driver’s license.
As this report is published, Chavez-Banos remains in police custody.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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