Accused University of Utah groper pleads guilty to lesser charges
A man admitted Friday that in 2011 he tried to grope several women on and around the University of Utah campus.
As part of a deal with prosecutors in Salt Lake City's Third District Court, Gary Winston Fotheringham, 32, pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted forcible sexual abuse, all third-degree felonies. Prosecutors reduced the charges from second-degree felonies and dismissed two misdemeanors for voyeurism in exchange for the guilty pleas.
The pleas all but wrap up a case that began in November 2011, when someone reported that Fotheringham was watching women dress inside a locker room on the university campus. Later that same day, Fotheringham groped a woman as she walked through a lower campus building, police said. That evening, Fotheringham allegedly followed another woman to her car and groped her as she attempted to get inside. During the ensuing altercation the woman bit Fotheringham's right finger, according to police reports, an injury that he still had when police later confronted him.
During a hearing last year, prosecutor Tupakk Renteria called Fotheringham a "danger to the community" and said the man's crimes have escalated over time. In 2010, police arrested Fotheringham for lewdness, saying he tried to film a woman in a bathroom stall. He pleaded guilty to a class B misdemeanor count and was sentenced to 12 months' probation.
In court documents filed Friday, Fotheringham admits trying to "take indecent liberties" to gratify his sexual desires during the 2011 incidents.
Attorneys who worked on the case could not immediately be reached for comment.
All that remains now is Fotheringham's sentencing. He faces up to five years in prison for each of the three felonies, meaning he could spend a maximum of 15 years behind bars. The judge also could opt for a more lenient penalty. Fotheringham will be sentenced Aug. 3.
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