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A St. George man was charged Thursday with raping a Dixie State University student who met up with him after chatting on the dating app Tinder.
Similar allegations have been made against Samuel Heber Butler, 21, in at least three other Utah municipalities, Dixie State police investigators found after a weekslong investigation.
Police arrested Butler on Wednesday after the incident that allegedly occurred the evening of Jan. 9. He was charged Thursday in 5th District Court with one count of rape, a first-degree felony. Butler was released from the Washington County jail Thursday evening after posting $20,000 bail, officials said.
The alleged rape at an apartment where Butler was living near campus was reported to Dixie State police on Jan. 10. A Dixie State spokesman said Butler is not and has never been a Dixie State student.
Before meeting up on Jan. 9, the woman chatted with Butler on Tinder, according to a probable-cause statement.
Butler told her he wanted to "get laid," according to the charging documents. The woman said she made it clear that she didn't want to have sex, but that she would meet Butler for coffee.
The woman told police they did not end up getting coffee.
Instead Butler picked her up on campus and took him to his apartment, where he "forced himself upon her," documents state.
He kissed her, she told police, and she pushed him away, telling Butler "that's not why I'm here." He continued to kiss her and put "his hands all over her body."
He stopped briefly, she told police, then he went back to kissing her and pushed her down onto the mattress. She tried pushing him off but was unsuccessful, she said. He then raped her, she said.
According to the probable-cause statement, police recently learned that Butler has been involved in "similar events" in Logan, Orem and Utah County.
"This department learned that the suspect has been listed as a rape suspect in other cases where the suspect forces himself upon the victims," according to the police statement.
In a Friday telephone interview, Dixie State Police Chief Don Reid said Butler aroused the lawman's suspicion that there could be other sex-related cases involving Butler when he brought him in for an interview. Butler told Reid several things about his dating preferences and previous experiences in meeting women via the internet, and the discussion led the chief to believe "this had happened before," Reid said.
Reid had officers in his department reach out to other university police departments; he knew Butler had attended or lived near several other Utah universities. Investigators also sent a notice asking for information about Butler on a statewide police database, he said.
It took several weeks, Reid said, but his officers eventually found several other previous similar investigations involving Butler. Only one a domestic violence investigation in Spanish Fork led to criminal charges.
"It was the persistence on our end to keep making the phone calls," Reid said. "And it took a while to get those departments to respond."
Details of the investigations into Butler are unclear; The Salt Lake Tribune has requested police reports from each agency.
"As we read the reports, there were so many similarities [with the Dixie State case]," Reid said. "This guy's got a mode of operation down."
The chief said tracking down the previous investigations will strengthen Washington County's case against Butler.
Dixie State spokesman Jordon Sharp said the woman initially reported the January incident to a "campus employee" who reported it to police.
"The DSU employee took the report seriously, followed University policy and procedures, and acted quickly, reporting the incident to the appropriate supervisor," Sharp said in an email.
Butler is scheduled to appear in court Monday.