Protective order granted against Republican candidate for Utah Senate in sexual abuse case

Prosecutors allege Brandon Beckham recently “liked” the alleged victim’s Venmo transactions

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Republican Party Central Committee members Helen Watts from Davis County, left, discusses policy with Brandon Beckham from Utah County during their meeting, Sept. 18, 2021 at Layton High School. A Utah County judge granted a protective order against Beckham, a GOP state Senate candidate, on Wednesday after the woman he’s charged with sexually abusing reported that he recently interacted with years-old social media posts.

A Utah County judge granted a pretrial protective order against GOP state Senate candidate Brandon Beckham on Wednesday, after the woman he’s charged with sexually abusing reported that he recently interacted with years-old social media posts.

Utah County prosecutor Stephen Jones said during the early Wednesday court hearing that someone named Brandon Beckham went through two or three years of Venmo transactions and “liked” some of them. The mobile payment app features a newsfeed where users can see, like or comment on friends’ transactions.

Beckham is running against incumbent State Sen. Keith Grover for the Republican nomination in Utah County’s District 23, and was charged with a second-degree felony count of sexual abuse in February. He has denied the allegations.

Beckham’s attorney Randall Spencer told 4th District Judge Thomas Low that Beckham hasn’t had any contact with the woman in about a year — including liking Venmo payments.

“Mr. Beckham is running for political office, and we believe that these actions are related to that,” Spencer said. “It’s politically based, not based upon any real danger to the alleged victim.”

Low said the allegations met the threshold to issue the protective order. He added, “I didn’t know Mr. Beckham was running for any sort of office, but the fact that also prosecution has commenced is another reason” to issue the no-contact order.

Court documents allege Beckham held down and sexually assaulted a woman he met up with June 2021. He allegedly apologized to the woman in a later phone call that he was “wild” and “had gone too far,” the documents state.

Beckham’s supporters called the charges a “political hit job” ahead of the Utah County Convention in April, where enough delegates chose Beckham to force a primary election in June. Prosecutors filed charges three days before Beckham filed candidacy paperwork.

Jones, the woman’s attorney, said Wednesday that the woman didn’t originally want a protective order but the “liked” Venmo transactions changed her mind.

“Given the fact that there has been some contact from going back over her records from a few years ago,” Jones said, “I think that is concerning to her.”

The order states Beckham can’t contact the woman “directly or indirectly” and must remain at least 500 feet away from each other, Low said.

Beckham attended the virtual hearing and spoke once, affirming he didn’t have questions about the protective order. He kept his face blank and lips pulled into a tight, straight line throughout the appearance, sometimes briefly closing his eyes.

His next court hearing is scheduled for June 15 at 8:30 a.m. Primary elections are June 28.