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Ravell Call, Deseret News, File

Tony Yapias, prominent activist for Latino community in Utah, charged with rape

By Ben Lockhart | Posted - Sep 12th, 2016 @ 9:57pm


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SOUTH SALT LAKE — Tony Yapias, a prominent activist for the Latino community in Utah, was charged Monday with raping a woman who police say had recently ended her romantic relationship with him.

In addition to the first-degree felony rape charge, Yapias was charged in 3rd District Court with tampering with evidence, a class A misdemeanor.

Yapias, 50, of Salt Lake City, is the director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, an advocacy organization for Latinos in the state. He was arrested Monday and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on $250,000 bail. He is formally identified in court documents as Adolfo Tony Yapias-Delgado.

Charges allege that the rape occurred March 21 in South Salt Lake. The victim had ended her four-year romantic involvement with Yapias 10 days earlier, court documents say.

"(Yapias) went inside the victim's home uninvited after she opened the door to go confront him in the parking lot," charges state. "The victim again made it clear she was not interested in a continuing relationship and did not want to engage in sex. (Yapias) then forced the issue and had sexual intercourse with the victim without her consent."

The woman reported the alleged rape to police and others that same day, "despite her fears and concerns with respect to immigration issues," court documents say. A medical examination indicated multiple injuries that were consistent with her account of what happened, according to charging documents.

The woman sent Yapias text messages in April confronting him about the incident, charges state, at which point he responded, "at the end you accepted didn't you?"

Yapias also allegedly grabbed the woman's cellphone following the alleged rape and deleted the texts leading up to the March 21 encounter with the woman.

"Unfortunately for (Yapias), the text messages he deleted were retrieved by a forensic investigator," charges state.

Court documents say that text message conversation included statements from the woman saying "I said no. Don't you get it" and responses from Yapias saying "No, I don't get it," and "I'll be there."

South Salt Lake police say in charging documents that Yapias was interviewed by investigators about the alleged rape.

"When interviewed … (Yapias) admitted sex had occurred, but felt the victim consented at some point by removing her clothes," charges state.

In the April text message conversation with the woman, Yapias admitted to erasing the previous texts and "acknowledged that the victim had told him (multiple times) 'no' she did not want to have sex," court documents say.

Court documents also note Yapias' status as an immigration activist.

"(Yapias) was also well aware of issues related to the victim's immigration status," the charges say. "As part of the March (21) text exchange, before he arrived at her home, he had stated: 'I'm at (a) meeting about immigration with representatives from Washington, D.C.'"

The case is being prosecuted by the Davis County Attorney's Office. Sim Gill, the Salt Lake County district attorney, said his office transferred the case "several months ago" because of a conflict of interest. Gill has appeared on Yapias' radio show multiple times and otherwise collaborated with him in the past, he said.

For many years, Yapias has spoken out about immigration issues affecting Utah Latinos on his blog, radio programs, TV newscasts and several rallies.

In 2014, he attended a meeting with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office on behalf of the Latino community. He is also the former director of the Utah Office of Hispanic Affairs.

KSL and the Deseret News have interviewed Yapias several times, most recently last week for a story about the slowing rate of the Latino population in Utah in the United States.

On his blog, Yapias lists the various hats he wears: "Latino youth motivational speaker, public and business speaker, court assistance, labor commission issues, translations, business consulting."

Gill said he doesn't know why the Davis County Attorney's Office required until September to file charges, but he did say "sometimes it ends up taking a little bit extra time" to file a case when it's handed off between jurisdictions.

"In the most general sense … whenever you have matters dealing with sexual assault, these are taken very seriously," Gill said, making clear that he didn't want to speculate specifically on Yapias' case. "Everybody wants to be thorough. Everybody wants to make sure that the case is put together well."

Attempts to reach Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings for comment Monday night were unsuccessful. Yapias' attorney also couldn't be reached.

Jail records indicate Yapias, remained incarcerated late Monday. No initial court date has been set in his case.

Yapias has no significant prior criminal history in Utah, according to court records.

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Ben Lockhart

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