Evidence against man accused of being BYU groper is weak, attorney says

By Sam Penrod, Deseret News

Published: Thu, June 5, 2014, 12:00 p.m. MDT

 Nathan Fletcher, right, stands with his attorney John Allan as he makes his initial court appearance in Provo on Thursday, June 5, 2014. Fletcher is charged with two counts of sexual battery, a class A misdemeanor, in connection with a series of gropings at BYU.

Nathan Fletcher, right, stands with his attorney John Allan as he makes his initial court appearance in Provo on Thursday, June 5, 2014. Fletcher is charged with two counts of sexual battery, a class A misdemeanor, in connection with a series of gropings at BYU.

(Jeremy Harmon)

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

Email: spenrod@deseretnews.com

1. sportsfan21
June 5, 2014

I knew Nate from running cross country with him for 4 years. I was shocked when he was accused of these things, because it didn't seem like him at all. Maybe I'm wrong, but this article stating the evidence is flimsy only makes me wonder if the witch hunt was a bit to eager to pin this on someone. But I'll wait to see all of the evidence before making assumptions either way.

2. Kaladin
Greeley, CO,
June 5, 2014

A defense attorney is always going to say the evidence is flimsy, even if there is a confession, photos, and DNA

3. truth in all its forms
henderson, NV,
June 5, 2014

The court system is set up to have our clients be innocent until proven guilty. I presume he is innocent and I want to see how the trial plays out before I make my judgement on his innocence.

4. Aggie238
Logan, UT,
June 5, 2014

Based on the evidence that is being presented in the media, I'd say there's absolutely no case. They say there's more, I guess, but I sure hope it's more substantial than what's being reported or the prosecution is going to get laughed out of the courtroom. I'm an experienced runner, and I can pick out my training buddies with a reasonable degree of confidence from a long way away, but not with the confidence I'd need to accuse someone of a serious crime in the absence of other evidence like clothing, shoes, or other recognizable cues. I'd say his track buddies are pretty irresponsible to make that accusation. There are plenty of people with similar gaits. Maybe I'm wrong and he is the guy, but if I were on that jury there's no way I'd vote guilty based on the evidence so far reported.

5. AFCoug
Colorado Springs, CO,
June 5, 2014

I work as a victim advocate in the Air Force and more times than naught it is always the good guy that is committing these crimes. Ever hear of the three personas people exhibit? One persona around family, another in the work enviornment, and yet another when alone. For some these personas are very closely related and do not vary much. For others they act and do what they know is expected of them in each area but are completly different people. Kind of like the young man that blesses the sacrament on Sunday's but lives it up and drinks the Friday or Saturday before.

I don't know the evidence and am not throwing the book at him but don't ever discount somebody just becasue they always seemed like a good guy or girl when you knew them. So many of these repeat offenders (16 times) play the game extremely well. In the Air Force these are often the guys making Colonel or Chief Master Seargent before being exposed and ruining the Air Force's name.