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Ex-BYU grounds supervisor charged with sexually abusing employee

By Annie Knox, KSL | Posted - Sep. 25, 2020 at 4:31 p.m.


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PROVO — A former supervisor in Brigham Young University’s groundskeeping department has been charged with sexually abusing one of his employees after displaying a gun.

Michael Dufur, 62, of Lehi, was fired from the university following his arrest in the alleged assault in December, according to BYU. The Utah County Attorney’s Office has charged him in 4th District Court with object rape, a first-degree felony; and forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony.

The alleged victim told KSL the assault followed lesser instances of inappropriate conduct on Dufur’s part, but she didn’t suspect her boss would someday assault her.

In hindsight, she said, “he groomed me.”

Although she loved and excelled in the job, the groundskeeper, now 51, said she accepted a severance offer from the university and found work elsewhere, in large part because she feared retribution from her attacker. KSL does not typically identify victims of alleged sexual assaults.

Dufur’s defense attorney, Thomas Weber, has entered not guilty pleas on his client’s behalf. Weber did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

University spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said BYU does not tolerate sexual misconduct.

“BYU has taken these allegations very seriously,” Jenkins said in a statement. “This individual was terminated shortly after the university learned of this matter. Additionally, the university has investigated and addressed concerns about the atmosphere within the department.”

The woman reported the assault to BYU’s police department Dec. 14 at the urging of a family member and friend.

She told a detective that a day earlier, Dufur asked her to join him in a shed, saying he wanted to get her something — an item she believed she would need for work. But as soon as she walked in, he shut the door, pushed her against it and placed a handgun on a grill nearby before pushing her clothing aside and assaulting her, according to charging documents.

“The victim said she was really scared and that she took the presence of the gun to mean that they would be doing what defendant wanted to do,” the charges state.

The woman told him either he would get fired or they both would, but he wouldn’t let her go, prosecutors allege.

“Defendant told the victim that she was not going to say anything and defendant was not going to say anything and everything would be normal,” the charges say.

The gardener told police she tried to stay on Dufur’s good side because he could be “really unkind” when he dislikes someone and “could make the victim’s life miserable,” the charging documents state.

The woman claimed that in the past, Dufur had shown her an explicit picture and talked about his sex life — conversations that made her uncomfortable.

In an interview with police, Dufur initially denied anything happened but ultimately admitted to some kinds of sexual contact, prosecutors allege.

He confirmed he’d been wearing a gun and placed it on the grill, the charges say, telling a detective “he didn’t make any threats but admitted that looking at the gun could be threatening” and that she had “shied away” when he produced the weapon.

A hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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Annie Knox

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