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JUSTICES UPHOLD SEX ASSAULT CONVICTION

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The Utah Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a man who sexually assaulted a woman in Sugarhouse Park - an assault that prompted nearby park patrons to ask him to go elsewhere so they wouldn't have to watch.

In a unanimous decision released Friday, the court rejected Henry Clay Hopkins' appeal that he was convicted on insufficient evidence.Justices agreed with Hopkins' claim that the prosecutor made improper statements to the jury, telling them his personal opinion was that Hopkins was guilty. However, the error had no effect on the trial's outcome, they ruled.

Hopkins was convicted of attacking a 36-year-old woman as she was completing office paperwork on a slope in the park near about 20 other people. He threatened her with harm if she screamed, stuck a knife in the ground near her neck and fondled her. She eventually grabbed the knife, threw it and ran in the direction of a police officer.

Police arrested Hopkins 15 minutes later.

At the trial, witnesses testified they were embarrassed by what they saw, that they noticed the woman resisting the assault and that they called out, suggesting the couple go to a private place.