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May 1, 2004

Judge weighing evidence in assault case

From: Provo Daily Herald, UT - May 1, 2004


A 4th District judge will wait nearly a month before deciding if the evidence he heard Friday is enough to charge a deaf professor with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman.

Roger Wilkins, 36, is charged with attempted rape, a first-degree felony, forcible sodomy, a first-degree felony, and two counts of forcible sexual abuse, second-degree felonies. He faces up to life in prison. Wilkins, who was convicted of lewdness involving a child in 1993, was arrested in February. He is out of jail on $25,000 bail.

Fourth District Judge Anthony Schofield heard testimony from the victim, who is also deaf, and a psychologist Friday before defense attorney Ron Yengich asked for two weeks to file a brief challenging the proposed charges by the state. Schofield told Yengich to have the brief done by May 14, and scheduled a hearing on the issue May 26.

Yengich said he doesn't think the evidence supports the charges. He questions whether Wilkins could be charged with two crimes for each event.

The victim testified through an American Sign Language interpreter that she met Wilkins at Salt Lake Community College, where she was a student and he was a professor. They became friends. Wilkins also worked as an adjunct instructor at UVSC, teaching American Sign Language, since fall 2002.

The victim said she started having problems at home. Wilkins invited her to move out of her parents' house and into his Lehi home, where he lived with his wife and three children.

The woman testified she moved into his house in mid-December and shared a room with his 3-year-old daughter. He took her to see a counselor and tried to help her apply for Social Security and Medicaid.

Then, on Jan. 5, the woman said she was left home alone with Wilkins. She wasn't feeling well and was in bed. She said he came into the room and sexually assaulted her. She said she told him no repeatedly. She moved out of the house on Jan. 6, but returned to baby-sit his children Jan. 9. She said he sexually assaulted her again that day.

Leah Voorhies, coordinator of psychological services for the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind, testified that the victim is on the level of a 12- or 13-year-old when it comes to receiving or expressing information. Voorhies tested the woman after the alleged sexual assault.

Voorhies said the victim could say no to sexual advances, but it would be hard for her to follow through. The victim's need for affection is very strong and it's easy to influence her.

She is socially naive, trusting and vulnerable, Voorhies said.

© 2004 Provo Daily Herald