A University of Utah swimmer who escaped to Canada following accusations of raping a fellow student earlier this year has been apprehended.
According to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, 19-year-old Benjamin Smyth was taken into custody this week and is facing charges of sodomy, sexual abuse, and rape. Smyth’s lawyer chose not to provide any comments on whether Smyth willingly returned from Canada or if he was captured by police.
Gill stated that they believe Smyth is currently in custody in Seattle, New York Post reports.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the incident in question happened in August 2022, with the victim reporting an alleged sexual assault in February. Charges were filed against Smyth at the 3rd District Court, followed by an arrest warrant.
Smyth initially denied any involvement, allegedly claiming that he didn’t know the victim. Police said he later stated he had consensual sex with the victim. Court documents indicate that the suspect admitted that he knew the victim was in pain during the act.
Charging documents state that Smyth is accused of going into the victim’s room and undressing her. He then allegedly coerced her into performing multiple sexual acts and then proceeded to rape her.
He’s also accused of asking her to play “truth or dare,” before he pushed her to the floor as she told him, “no” and that she “did not want to do that.”
KSL.com reports that the pair had met earlier in the common area of the dorms, where they exchanged numbers. Smyth later allegedly told police that he has “had sex with many women for their first time,” then provided the names and numbers of two people for character references.
One of the character witnesses said that Smyth “always brags about the number of women he has sex with” and “keeps a list of women he has sex with and shares the list with people to show off and ‘feed his ego.’”
A second character witness told police that he was aware of the list and stated that Smyth appeared to be conceited while discussing the number of women he had sexual relations with.
Following the incident, the victim took out a restraining order on Smyth, who had already cleared out of his dorm and fled by the time an officer arrived to serve him with the order. The officer then received a call from a private investigator who informed him that Smyth, a Canadian citizen, had returned to Canada after discovering that he was under investigation for rape.
On February 20, a few days after the University of Utah Athletics Department learned of the allegations, Smyth was suspended from the school’s swimming and diving program.
“On February 16 we were made aware of a serious allegation involving a member of our men’s swimming and diving program,” the athletic department wrote.
“Upon being notified by the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) of a pending investigation, Ben Smyth was immediately suspended on Feb. 20 from all team activities. We take matters of this type very seriously, and have continued to monitor the situation. We will not have further comment as this matter proceeds through the legal process.”
Smyth is facing charges of rape, forcible sodomy, and sexual abuse. The first two counts are first-degree felonies, punishable by a sentence of five years to life in prison upon conviction. The third count, sexual abuse, is a second-degree felony that carries a potential sentence of one to 15 years in prison.
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[Feature Photo: Benjamin Smyth/University of Utah]