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Girl safe after man allegedly grabbed her at Liberty Park

By Pat Reavy | Posted - Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 10:41am

SALT LAKE CITY — A 36-year-old man was arrested Thursday after police say he grabbed a 9-year-old and tried to walk away with her.

Just after 2 p.m. at Liberty Park, a 9-year-old girl was playing in one of the water features, according to police. The girl's mother was standing 10 to 15 feet away.

A man "forcibly grabbed" the girl by her by the arm, said Salt Lake police detective Dennis McGowan. The girl screamed and tried to pull herself away. Her mother quickly approached the man who let the child go and started walking hurriedly away, he said.

The mother told a park employee what had happened. The employee notified a second employee and they both ran after the man, detaining him until police arrived.

Douglas Groeger was arrested for investigation of battery and disturbing the peace. He told investigators that he was at the drinking fountain and said 'Hello' to the little girl. Groeger was a temporary employee hired by a private company to do work at the park, McGowan said.

Groeger has a minor criminal history in Utah, according to state court records. He took a plea in abeyance in May to misdemeanor theft by deception.

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