Idaho man accused of groping cheerleaders in the Tri-Cities

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldOctober 3, 2012 

A 41-year-old Idaho man is accused of driving to the Tri-Cities to watch and grope high school cheerleaders.

Jeffrey Paul Gravelle, of Bonner's Ferry, Idaho, was at two Hanford High School football games last month and allegedly grabbed or touched three cheerleaders under their skirts.

School officials later identified him as a suspect who was seen loitering outside the girls' locker room during a basketball game in February, court documents said.

The first football game incident was Sept. 7 at the Hanford-Kamiakin game.

A Hanford cheerleader reported that she was talking to other cheerleaders when a man came up behind her, grabbed her buttocks and reached under her skirt, documents said.

A couple with sons on the football team also told authorities they saw the man, later identified as Gravelle, push between them and hit the cheerleader's bottom, documents said.

When the girl didn't respond, the man reached under her skirt, the couple said.

A Kamiakin cheerleader said Gravelle also walked by her, touched her behind then reached under her skirt. She said she also saw the man go out of his way to approach another Kamiakin cheerleader, documents said.

The third cheerleader told police that she felt someone touch her bottom as he walked by.

The next week, the Hanford cheerleader was at the Hanford-Pasco game and she spotted Gravelle in the stands. She alerted her mother, who called police.

The mother of a football player also was in the stands and confirmed that Gravelle was the same man who groped the girl the week before, documents said. Gravelle also was identified by the Kamiakin cheerleader, said court documents.

The two Kamiakin cheerleaders said they had seen Gravelle at other games and that he once followed the squad from Burger King to the practice field, documents said.

They also said Gravelle appeared to be trying to look up their skirts when they were warming up before the Hanford game, forcing them to change their positions.

A Hanford school official later identified Gravelle as the same man seen Feb. 12 outside the locker room and noted it appeared Gravelle had been trying to take pictures of the cheerleaders, documents said.

Gravelle reportedly told police that he "had a sexual problem for the last 15 years," in particular with high school cheerleaders, documents said.

He said he liked watching them warm up and stretch before games and is willing to drive several hours at a time just to watch them, documents said.

He reportedly said he was at the Hanford basketball game in February but denied taking pictures of the girls.

He also denied groping the cheerleaders, but said he did accidentally touch each one on the bottom, documents said.

Gravelle has pleaded innocent in Benton County Superior Court to three counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation and voyeurism, with aggravating circumstances.

His trial is set for Nov. 13. He's being held in the Benton County jail on $50,000 bail.

West Richland man arrested in robbery

A 56-year-old West Richland man was arrested for allegedly robbing a female hitchhiker he picked up at the King City truck stop just north of Pasco.

The 49-year-old woman told Franklin County sheriff's deputies that she was hitchhiking from Florida and arrived at the truck stop Sunday night.

On Monday, she accepted a ride from Timothy Grazzini, but wasn't aware that he wouldn't immediately take her to Yakima, authorities said.

When they got on Highway 395, Grazzini reportedly told her she would have to go to work with him first and then he'd take her to Yakima.

The woman said she demanded Grazzini stop so she could get out of the car, Grazzini pushed her out but kept all her belongings, authorities said. She reported the robbery around 8 a.m.

Grazzini was arrested by deputies a short time later when they spotted his car at a Connell business.

He was booked into the Franklin County jail on suspicion of second-degree robbery.

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