Utah immigration, civil rights activist Tony Yapias sentenced to 15 days in jail

A. Tony Yapias. Photo: Salt Lake County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 17, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Tony Yapias, longtime civil rights activist and champion of Utah’s immigrant community, was sentenced to 15 days in jail Monday following an original charge of first-degree felony rape in September 2016.

In a plea deal, 3rd District Judge Randall Skanchy also sentenced Yapias, 52, to two years of probation. Yapias will begin serving his jail time Dec. 27.

Yapias ultimately pleaded guilty to class A misdemeanor for tampering with evidence,  deleting text messages on the woman’s phone the day of the alleged assault, and unlawful detention, after admitting he had kept her in her home longer than she wanted to be.

According to the probable cause statement filed in 3rd District Court and obtained by Gephardt Daily, the alleged sexual assault took place on March 21, 2016, and involved a woman with whom Yapias had had a relationship for the past four years.

“On or about March 31, 2016 in South Salt Lake City, Utah, the defendant came to the home of an adult female victim he had been in a relationship with for approximately four years,” the statement reads.

“The victim had terminated the relationship 10 days prior and had expressed strongly and repeatedly in text messages that the relationship was over and she did not want anything to do with the defendant.

“The defendant persisted and came over to her home on March 21, 2016 against her wishes (as exhibited by text exchanges.) In fact, the victim’s last text to the defendant before he arrived at her home said: ‘I said no. Don’t you don’t get it.’ The defendant responded with three text messages as follows: ‘No, I don’t get it,’ then ‘I’ll be there’ followed a short time later by ‘I’m here.’

” … Once the defendant arrived, he went inside the victim’s house uninvited after she opened the door to confront him in the parking lot. The victim again made it clear she was not interested in a continuing relationship and did not want to engage in sex. The defendant forced the issue and had sexual intercourse with the victim without her consent.

“When interviewed about the incident, the defendant admitted sex had occurred, but felt the victim consented at some point by removing her clothes.”

The statement ultimately reveals that in April, a month after the alleged assault, “the victim, working with a police officer, had a text exchange with the defendant confronting him about the events of March 21, 2016 and seeking an apology. The defendant apologized for erasing text message exchanges from the victim’s phone … the victim further acknowledged the victim had told him ‘no,’ she did not want to have sex, multiple times.”

Yapias, according to investigators, asked the victim to “accept my apologies for what happened” and stated again he believed she had consented when she removed her clothes.

Yapias was taken into custody shortly after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He posted the $250,000 bail with help from his family and friends, he said.

He spoke out to reporters at the time, saying: “I think as judicial moves along, I have total confidence in the legal system. My story will come out eventually. In due time, my side of the story will come out.”

The case against him was handled by the Davis County District Attorneys Office. It was referred to Davis County by Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. Gill cited his longstanding relationship with Yapias in working on issues facing Utah’s immigrant community in his decision to refer the case.


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