September 18, 2016

Press Ignores Nationally Visible Utah Immigration Activist’s Rape Arrest

Utah-based Hispanic activist Tony Yapias has drawn a fairly high level of national attention during the past six years.

Most recently, Yapias’s name came up in coverage of a clash between “protesters” and supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Salt Lake City in March. A search on his full name at the New York Times returns eight in-house items between 2010 and 2014. He has been variously described as “director of an immigration advocacy group,” “a longtime Latino leader in Utah,” and as “an activist with political interests.” A week ago, Mr. Yapias picked up another tag: accused rapist. I haven’t been able to locate any nationally distributed establishment media coverage of Yapias’s arrest.

There isn’t a chance in Hades that conservative or anti-illegal immigration activist in the same circumstances would be similarly ignored. You don’t even have to commit a crime to become a press-driven national object of scorn, as Elizabeth Lauten learned in 2014 when she posted an opinion on Facebook that the President’s daughters need to “try showing a little class” — and was hounded into resigning her Capitol Hill staff position.

Here are portions of a story on Yapias’s arrest found at the website of TV and radio station KSL in Salt Lake City. Note that the station’s reference to the victim’s immigration status is predictably indirect:

Tony Yapias, prominent activist for Latino community in Utah, charged with rape

Tony Yapias, a prominent activist for the Latino community in Utah, was charged Monday with raping a woman who police say had recently ended her romantic relationship with him.

In addition to the first-degree felony rape charge, Yapias was charged in 3rd District Court with tampering with evidence, a class A misdemeanor.

Yapias, 50, of Salt Lake City, is the director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, an advocacy organization for Latinos in the state. He was arrested Monday and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on $250,000 bail. He is formally identified in court documents as Adolfo Tony Yapias-Delgado.

Charges allege that the rape occurred March 21 in South Salt Lake. The victim had ended her four-year romantic involvement with Yapias 10 days earlier, court documents say.

“(Yapias) went inside the victim’s home uninvited after she opened the door to go confront him in the parking lot,” charges state. “The victim again made it clear she was not interested in a continuing relationship and did not want to engage in sex. (Yapias) then forced the issue and had sexual intercourse with the victim without her consent.”

The woman reported the alleged rape to police and others that same day, “despite her fears and concerns with respect to immigration issues,” court documents say. A medical examination indicated multiple injuries that were consistent with her account of what happened, according to charging documents.

In 2014, he attended a meeting with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office on behalf of the Latino community. He is also the former director of the Utah Office of Hispanic Affairs.

KSL and the Deseret News have interviewed Yapias several times, most recently last week for a story about the slowing rate of the Latino population in Utah in the United States.

… Gill said he doesn’t know why the Davis County Attorney’s Office required until September to file charges, but he did say “sometimes it ends up taking a little bit extra time” to file a case when it’s handed off between jurisdictions.

The amazing thing here is that Yapias has had this matter hanging over him for six months — and yet, as seen above, continued to maintain his high profile as if there was nothing wrong. Perhaps he hoped that he could talk his victim who is in the U.S. illegally (that’s what “concerns with respect to immigration issues” means, but the courts and the press won’t communicate in plain English in connection with these matters) into recanting her story. And yes, there’s more than a little concern about why it took so long for prosecutors to file charges.

Of course, Tony Yapias’s name is nowhere to be found at the Associated Press’s main national site or at its “Big Story” site.

The AP, as it so often does in these matters, has noticed Yapias’s arrest, and has treated it as a local and regional story with a terse report which communicates very little. Here’s the whole thing:

Latino activist accused of rape says his story will come out

A well-known Utah Latino activist who has been accused of assaulting a woman won’t respond to the allegation but says his side of the story has not been told.

Tony Yapias, who directs the advocacy group Proyecto Latino De Utah, held a press conference in Salt Lake City on Monday after he was arrested Monday and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on the charge of first-degree felony rape.

According to court documents, Yapias is accused of raping a woman who had ended a romantic involvement with him.

Yapias says he has confidence in the legal system and his side of the story will come out.

No initial court date has been set in his case.

There’s nothing about the victim’s immigration status, nothing about Yapias’s attempt to tamper with evidence, and nothing about his attempt to use the victim’s immigration situation to try to silence her. Why did the AP even bother?

The guess here is that if Yapias hadn’t called a press conference, the wire service wouldn’t have covered the story at all.

A Google News search on Tony Yapias’s full name (in quotes, sorted by date, past seven days, not showing duplicates) done at 4 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday returned 16 items. None, except the aforementioned AP item which only has local and regional visibility, are from national news outlets.

This is yet another story which would remain virtually unknown outside of Utah and parts of “flyover country” if it weren’t for alert center-right bloggers bringing it to the nation’s attention.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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