Republican candidate for Utah Senate charged with forcible sexual abuse

Brandon Beckham of Orem, who has filed to run against state Sen. Keith Grover in the GOP primary, was charged with a second-degree felony.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The start of the 2022 legislative session kicks off at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.

A state Senate candidate from Orem is facing a sexual abuse charge, with prosecutors accusing him of assaulting a woman last summer, according to court records.

Brandon Beckham met up with the woman, an acquaintance, to watch a movie that day, charging documents state. The woman told police that she walked out of the room and returned to find him in his underwear with a blanket spread out on the floor, according to the charging documents. He aggressively told her to give him a massage, she later recounted to law enforcement.

She agreed to massage him, but Beckham made additional demands, pulled her clothes off and touched her in an unwanted manner, the court records state. The woman told authorities that she asked Beckham to stop, according to the court records, but he said “she was being too conservative” and kept going.

He then pinned her onto the ground and continued to sexually assault her, the court documents state.

Beckham later admitted in a phone call with the woman that he was “‘wild’ and that ‘he had gone too far’” and apologized a number of times, according to the charging documents. He added that he didn’t realize the woman was “that uncomfortable” with his behavior.

Utah County prosecutors charged him in late February with forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. The charges were first reported by KSL-TV.

The 46-year-old man has filed to run against state Sen. Keith Grover, R-Provo, in the Republican primary.

In a text message to The Salt Lake Tribune, Beckham said he was “shocked” to learn of the case against him and said he still hasn’t heard from authorities about the complaint.

“But I categorically deny the account of events portrayed in the media,” he wrote. “Based on media reports, I have retained legal counsel, who has strongly advised against litigating this matter in the press.”

However, he said he’s “confident in our defense” against a sexual abuse charge and that his supporters have encouraged him to continue his Senate campaign.

Beckham has long been active in the state’s GOP, recently pushing a party resolution on banning critical race theory (CRT) from Utah’s public schools. He also directed and produced an anti-CRT film called “Identity Marxism,” which he released last month in collaboration with Sen. John Johnson, R-Ogden.

In 2020, he tried to convince state party members to censure Sen. Mitt Romney for voting to remove then-President Donald Trump from office, but the GOP instead ended up passing a watered-down resolution that praised the president’s acquittal.

Beckham also acted as director of Keep My Voice, a group that fought state laws enabling candidates to qualify for the ballot by gathering signatures. Conservative factions of the GOP opposed this signature-gathering path and wanted to stick solely with the traditional caucus-convention method in which party insiders choose who will appear on the ballot.