PROVO — Nathan Eric Fletcher made his first court appearance Thursday to face charges involving a series of gropings on or near the BYU campus.
His attorney says police have the wrong man.
“This kid has been banished from BYU campus, kicked out of school, the whole works," said defense attorney John Allan. "The evidence that I have received, if that’s the evidence they are trying to convict him on, I would say Provo and BYU is in trouble.”
Fletcher, 23, was accompanied by his wife and parents Thursday but didn’t say anything. He is charged with two counts of sexual battery, a class A misdemeanor. But police believe he committed all 16 groping incidents reported on and around campus since January.
Allan asked the judge for more time to get more of the evidence the city prosecutor has against his client.
"There’s apparently more video of tape that I don’t have," Allan said. "The videotape that I have received depicting what they are saying is my client in two different places. It’s just not matching up."
He said one of the alleged victims described her groper as being 6 feet 2 inches to 6 feet 4 inches tall, wearing lime green or neon green shorts and a white tank top.
"Then they have a picture of what looks like my client 10 minutes later at the Smith Fieldhouse wearing blue shorts and a grey T-shirt," Allan said. "The area where this actual attack occurred is approximately a mile away. I’d like to know how my client made it from there to the Smith Fieldhouse and changed his clothes in that period of time, and become 5 foot 9."
Allan said track team members helped police focus on Fletcher as the groper while watching surveillance video. They told police the gait of the person in the video matched Fletcher’s. He was listed on the BYU track team's 2012-13 roster and was a star track runner for Timpview High School.
Allan said his client adamantly denies the allegations.
"He's all along said it is not him that did this," he said.
He feels picked on, beat up and he can't find employment. Allan said he's concerned about the allegations against his client but said, "Right now, what I have, I feel very comfortable in our ability to defend him."
“No one has picked my client out and said, 'That is the man that groped me.' No one has said that," the defense attorney added.
But BYU police say they have strong evidence against Fletcher.
“We have surveillance. We have witness statements," BYU Police Lt. Arnold Lemmon said. "Officers did a lot of leg work, so when we combine everything, all the facts, other elements that I’m not at liberty to discuss, we have a good case or cases."
There were 16 groping incidents reported, but prosecutors are just pursuing two charges.
The next hearing is set for July 17.
Police believe that in January, February and March, Fletcher groped or swatted the breasts and buttocks of several women who were out walking or jogging around campus. In many cases, police believe Fletcher was dressed as a jogger himself and would often grope an unsuspecting victim without saying a word as he jogged by.
Court records show Fletcher has no prior criminal history in Utah outside of minor traffic infractions.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc