PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – An Orem man, once found not guilty in the shooting death of his brother-in-law, is back in jail after a woman reported he sexually assaulted her at gun point during a haircut.
According to charging documents, a 33-year-old hair stylist reported to police that 63-year-old Stephen Strate had sexually assaulted her in January at a salon in Provo.
The victim said after Strate entered the salon, he motioned for her to follow him to an area of the salon where there was no video surveillance. The victim reported while in this area Strate started kissing her and groping her breasts over her clothes.
Documents state he then forced the victim’s hand down his pants.
The victim said she told him no and tried to push him away, but he pulled out a handgun and pointed it at her crotch, saying he wanted to “play“ with her.
After she pushed the gun away, Strate held the gun to her head and told her he was going to shoot her in the head if she would not play his “game“, according to documents.
The victim was able to wrestle the gun away from him until she was in control and ordered him out of the salon, locking the door behind him.
A short time later, after the victim’s mother and sister came to the salon, the woman said Strate returned to the salon and gave the victim $200 as hush money, so she would not call the police, according to documents.
The documents further stated Strate told police that, even though there was no prior sexual activity between him and the victim, things started to get “hot and heavy“ while he was there with her. He wanted oral sex from her.
He said they kissed, she touched his genitals, and he touched her breasts over her clothing, document stated.
According to the documents, Strate said as part of the escalating foreplay, he confessed to pulling out his gun and rubbing it against the victim, trying to arouse her.
Strate explained the “witness tampering bribe“ was just because he felt bad, he had upset her and it was part of a pattern of him giving the stylist cash to help her with her kids during hard economic times.
Strate was arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail on one count first-degree felony aggravated sexual assault and one count third-degree felony aggravated assault.
Strate is expected in court Monday at 3 p.m. in Provo for his initial appearance.
Strate had once been charged with murder for the shooting death of his brother-in-law, Marvin Sidwell, in 2009. After a five-day jury trial in 2011, Strate was acquitted of the charge, based on Strate’s account that he acted in self-defense after being attacked with a drum stool.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the Rape & Sexual Assault Crisis Line 1-888-421-1100.