Woman describes repeated kidnappings, assaults during hearing

2012-10-02T00:19:00Z 2013-06-24T18:04:34Z Woman describes repeated kidnappings, assaults during hearingJim Dalrymple - Daily Herald Daily Herald
October 02, 2012 12:19 am  • 

PROVO -- It was early June, sometime around finals week in 2011, when a man shoved a Brigham Young University student into his car and ripped her shirt off, according to testimony.

The woman testified in court on Monday that she had dated the man, Juan Leiva, but by the time he came to her apartment that night they had broken up. He was upset because she had been hanging out with a male friend, she added, and after he drove her away she jumped out of his car and ran away. 

The woman's testimony was part of Leiva's preliminary hearing, during which prosecutors presented evidence to support four first-degree felonies for aggravated kidnapping and one class B misdemeanor for assault. The charges were filed in June and reflect allegations that Leiva drove the woman around and ripped her clothes off four times. 

Following the hearing 4th District Judge Samuel McVey bound Leiva over for trial -- meaning prosecutors have enough evidence to proceed with the case -- but reduced two kidnapping felonies to misdemeanors for assault. The ruling was based on the woman's description of the incidents.

According to the woman's testimony, the first incident occurred while she and Leiva were still dating. She was a sophomore at BYU, she said, and her friendship with Leiva had evolved into a serious romantic relationship, albeit one with some fighting.

"We would both butt heads with each other quite a bit," she testified.

The woman said during one of her arguments with Leiva, he drove her to a parking lot in Provo Canyon, ripped her shirt and yelled at her. She kicked and broke the car's windshield during the altercation.

"I didn't feel good," she said. "I felt violated."

Two similar incidents also reportedly included Leiva tearing the woman's clothing while driving her around Provo. The first, she testified, occurred in a parking lot near Center Street and the second was in a neighborhood near the country club on University Avenue. 

The woman said she eventually broke up with Leiva, but he nevertheless came to her apartment one night in June. He asked her where she had been and eventually forced her into the driver's side of his car. She said he then got inside, pushing her over, and drove to the parking lot of the nearby J Dawg's restaurant. There, he ripped her pink shirt, her bra and her underwear. The woman said she was then topless, but Leiva told her she couldn't use a sweater she found on the back seat. 

Leiva reportedly eventually drove to 900 East, where the woman jumped out of the car at a red light. Leiva ran after her, leaving his car behind, and both she and he "hit each other" and fell to the ground, the woman said. She then tried to hide before running to her apartment. 

Bystanders called police. Leiva reportedly assaulted one of those bystanders, earning his original misdemeanor charge.

Much of the woman's testimony was emotionally charged, and at one point the judge offered to call a recess while she composed herself, though the woman declined.

During cross examination, defense attorney John Larsen focused on the woman's relationship with Leiva and her willingness to get into his car. Responding to Larsen's questions, the woman said she still cared for Leiva and had never previously been hurt by him. She also acknowledged that she had at times voluntarily entered Leiva's car. Among other things, Larsen further asked about possible inconsistencies in the woman's story.

Leiva's next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 22.

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