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University of Utah swimmer allegedly flees to Canada amid rape investigation, police say

Benjamin Dennis Kai Smyth, who competed on the men's swimming and diving team, faces multiple felony counts, including rape, Salt Lake County court records show.
"Late summer setting of one of the gateway entrances to the University of Utah--this one at the top of 2nd South Street in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The landscaped quad and roadway surrounding this sign is known as President's Circle.OTHER IMAGES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH"
An entrance to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.strickke / Getty Images

Authorities this week issued an arrest warrant for a University of Utah swimmer and diver who is suspected of fleeing to his native Canada after he was accused of raping a student in her dorm room last year.

Benjamin Dennis Kai Smyth, 19, of Saanichton, British Columbia, faces felony charges of rape, forcible sodomy and forcible sexual abuse, according to Salt Lake County court records. A warrant for his arrest was issued Monday, records show.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in a statement to NBC News on Thursday that authorities will pursue Smyth’s extradition to Utah.

“A warrant was issued on this very serious matter. We will pursue all available means to ensure his appearance in court,” Gill said.

A charging document mentioned Smyth’s time on the university’s diving team.

“SMYTH left school and returned to Canada. SMYTH was a member of the University of Utah’s diving team, and according to University of Utah records, was on scholarship," it said.

"SMYTH’S flight from the jurisdiction only after learning of an investigation into his actions while enrolled in college classes as a student athlete on scholarship demonstrates the strong likelihood that he will not submit to the Court’s jurisdiction, and if released on bail will flee again,” the document states.

The charging document requests that Smyth be held on no bail if he is detained.

Neither Smyth nor his relatives could be reached for comment Thursday. A representative for the University of Utah said Smyth was enrolled during the spring 2023 semester which ended April 25.

The university’s Athletics Department released a statement saying Smyth was suspended from the swimming and diving team.

“On Feb. 16 we were made aware of a serious allegation involving a member of our men’s swimming and diving program," the statement said.

"Upon being notified by the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity of a pending investigation, Ben Smyth was immediately suspended on Feb. 20 from all team activities. We take matters of this type very seriously, and have continued to monitor the situation. We will not have further comment as this matter proceeds through the legal process,” the department said.

Smyth is no longer listed on the roster of the university's men's swimming and diving team.

University Police Detective Francisco Chavez wrote in a probable cause declaration that Smyth raped the student, who was identified only by her initials in court records, on Aug. 16.

Smyth met the student that day and the two exchanged contact information, the declaration said.

The student told police Smyth messaged her and asked where she was and where her roommates were, according to the declaration. The student told Smyth she was in her dorm room and her roommates were attending an on-campus event, the declaration said.

Only a few minutes later, Smyth showed up at the student’s dorm room, where he suggested they play “truth or dare” and he began asking her about her sexual history, the declaration said.

Smyth then forced himself onto the student, even though she pushed him off of her and said she “did not want to do that,” the declaration said.

She also told Smyth directly she did not want to have sex, according to the declaration.

In an interview with Chavez, Smyth initially denied knowing the student, but he later he said had sex with her when they first met.

He also allegedly told police that “he has had sex with many women for their first time” and provided officers with the names of two character witnesses, KSL reported.

The witnesses told police that Smyth “always brags about the number of women he has sex with” and “keeps a list of women he has sex with and shares the list with people to show off and ‘feed his ego.'”

Prosecutors say the totality of the evidence and circumstances “demonstrates Smyth is sexually motivated to add to his ‘list,’” KSL reported.

Days after heaving interviewed him, Chavez tried to serve Smyth with a temporary protective order at Smyth’s dorm room, but Smyth had vanished, the declaration said.

“SMYTH’S roommate answered the door and told Detective Chavez that SMYTH cleaned out all his belongings and moved out. Days later, Detective Chavez received a call from a private investigator who stated that SMYTH, who is a Canadian citizen, returned to Canada after learning that he was being investigated for the rape,” according to the declaration.