Providence tattoo artist bound over for trial for allegedly sexually assaulting a customer

Gavel. Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

LOGAN — A 30-year-old tattoo artist has been bound over for trial on charges of sexually assaulting a female customer, while giving her a tattoo earlier this year. Douglas S. Chavez pleaded not guilty to the crime after his public defender argued that the allegations were just a part of the tattoo process.

Chavez participated in a virtual preliminary hearing in 1st District Court Monday afternoon, appearing by web conference from his attorney’s office. He was previously charged with one count of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony.

As part prosecutor’s evidence, a Cache County sheriff’s deputy testified about receiving the report of the possible sexual offense in February. The alleged victim claimed Chavez touched her inappropriately while performing the tattoo work.

The woman explained to law enforcement how the tattoo was to go over the center of her spine and end around her mid-back. While doing the work, Chavez reportedly pulled her pants down, rubbed her buttocks and moved his hand forward, towards her groin.

She said it was previously agreed upon that the tattoo would end several inches above her waistline and that he never asked permission to remove her pants or touch her.

The woman told deputies, Chavez stated he was looking to see how far down the tattoo could go, when she asked him what he was doing. She also showed them text messages, where the suspect later apologized for his actions, stating that he went a little too far.

Public defender Joseph Saxton claimed it was appropriate for his client to touch the alleged victim’s buttocks because of where she had requested the tattoo be given. He asked the court to drop the case.

Cache County Deputy Attorney Griffin Hazard countered that this was way out of the scope of where Chavez should have been touching the alleged victim. He described Saxton’s argument was like a doctor groping a patient’s chest, while trying to treat her for a sore throat.

Judge Brandon Maynard agreed with prosecutors and bound Chavez over for trial. He ordered the suspect to appear again in court Aug. 9, for a pretrial conference.

Chavez did not speak during the hearing. He is currently out of jail on pretrial supervision and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Individuals arrested and charged in complaints are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.

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