GRANTSVILLE — A man labeled by police as a “serial abuser” of children was arrested Thursday on investigation of 37 incidents of child sexual abuse.
Mark Swan, 48, of Grantsville, was ordered in 3rd District Court to be held without bail Friday after police said he allegedly threatened his victims with harm if they talked to authorities.
A parent contacted Grantsville Police Department on Thursday and said a man had inappropriately touched their children, according to a probable cause statement filed in 3rd District Court.
Police interviewed the children, all under the age of 13, and each one told police they had inappropriate encounters with the man, according to the affidavit.
One girl said Swan exposed himself to her, and asked her to touch him inappropriately multiple times, the probable cause statement reads.
In one incident he held his genitals in one hand while his other hand was on the door so the young girl couldn’t leave, which officials saw as Swan unlawfully detaining the girl, the probable cause statement says. During this encounter, Swan asked the girl to touch him and she told him no and managed to run away from him and leave the room, police said.
In another incident, the girl told police Swan allegedly went into her room and said the two needed to speak alone. He then exposed himself to the girl and "begged" her to touch him, according to the probable cause statement. The girl told police she said no and ran out of the room.
Another child told police Swan once asked to speak with her alone and once alone he “began to rub himself under his pants, and told her that he saw her looking at him,” the probable cause statement says.
As he did with the other child, he asked the girl to touch him inappropriately. When she told him she didn’t want to, he offered her a high five, held onto her hand and then tried to force her hand onto his genitals, according to police.
The girl told police she continued to tell Swan no and managed to break her wrist free and run out of the room. As she ran out, Swan allegedly called her a “chicken,” according to the probable cause statement.
Both girls told police they see Swan “playing with his privates every single time they go to his home,” according to the probable cause statement.
Police interviewed a boy who has a developmental disorder who initially told police he was friends with Swan and nothing inappropriate had occurred between the two. However, after the interview, the boy told his mother about sexual contact that had happened between him and Swan for more than two years, according to the probable cause statement.
In a later interview, investigators learned the alleged sexual abuse on the boy had occurred for more than four years, according to the probable cause statement. The most recent incident occurred two days before that interview, police said.
Swan was interviewed by police after his arrest on Thursday and said the children were at his home multiple times. "When child rape allegations were mentioned, Mark demanded a lawyer and refused to speak to detectives,” according to the probable cause statement.
A search warrant was served on Swan’s home and investigators found “multiple items the victims mentioned during their disclosures,” the probable cause statement reads, including "multiple electronic devices."
The boy also told detectives Swan had recorded videos of some of the encounters on a phone, according to the probable cause statement, and described the phone "with specific detail" to officials.
Since the initial report, police said another victim came forward and told detectives he had been inappropriately touched by Swan.
In the probable cause statement, police said they booked Swan on investigation of 10 counts of each sexual abuse crime since police had no way of knowing exactly how many times Swan allegedly abused the children. However, police also said in the statement “there were more than that according to the victim.”
Criminal charges have not yet been filed against Swan. According to official court documents, Swan has a few traffic violations in Utah but no prior criminal history in the state.
Since media reports of the arrest, Grantsville police officer Cody Painter said five other potential victims have come forward, according to the Deseret News. Painter said rather than children coming forward with testimonials of assaults, concerned parents have contacted police to say their children have spent time in the man’s house.
One of those five children has already been interviewed by police and reported similar experiences as the other victims with Swan. Painter said that child is now considered a victim in the case.
The other four children will be interviewed in the coming days and weeks, he said.
He said there's been “all hands on deck on this case.”
“Everybody that can be involved is involved,” he added.
Painter said that Swan’s alleged M.O. with most children appears to be lewdness. However, Swan is accused of object rape and sodomy with one of the victims listed in the probable cause statement.
Painter said there’s a chance there are more children who were victims of the more heinous crimes Swan is accused of.
“We hope, we pray that there isn’t,” Painter said.
Contributing: Gretel Kauffman, KSL