Courts • Preliminary hearing in kidnapping, rape case set to begin.
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A day before a preliminary hearing on charges he sexually assaulted four women, GOP activist Gregory Nathan Peterson was accused Monday of forcible sexual abuse involving a fifth victim.
The new charge of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse, filed in Wasatch County's 4th District Court, is similar to those filed earlier in Salt Lake County.
Peterson in April 2010 allegedly took the woman to his Heber cabin for lunch, and said he wanted to watch a movie. The woman said she didn't have time and needed to pick up her daughter from school. According to court documents, Peterson began kissing her and after she told him to stop, exposed his genitals. When he attempted to make her touch him, she put her hand on the holster of her gun and "told him he needed to take [her] home or she would start walking," according to court documents.
He then took her back to her car in Utah County.
Peterson, who had been charged in July with sexually assaulting four other women, is scheduled to appear Tuesday in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City for a preliminary hearing expected to last two days.
The hearing begins at 9 a.m. before Judge Judith Atherton, who will decide whether Peterson should stand trial on the charges.
Peterson, 37, has been held at the Salt Lake County jail in lieu of $750,000 bail since the charges were filed on July 18. After his attempt to have the bail reduced was denied because he was deemed a flight risk, Peterson demanded the preliminary hearing be held quickly.
The Orem man is charged with 23 felonies and two misdemeanors that include assault, rape and kidnapping. According to charging documents:
» In March 2011, Peterson drove a woman he met at a church activity in Draper to his cabin in Heber where Peterson often held political functions when she had only agreed to go with him to a movie. During the drive, Peterson told the woman he had a concealed-weapons permit and pointed to the center console of his car where he reportedly kept a gun. At the cabin, Peterson assaulted and raped the woman.
» In July 2011, Peterson took a woman to a movie in Sandy. He later asked her to go out to dinner but instead drove to the Heber cabin and raped her. The woman said he threatened to have her deported for an expired visa. The next day he forced her to go to his mother's house in Lewiston, where he continued to sexually assault her during the next two days.
» In December 2011, Peterson was supposed to go on a lunch date with a woman he met through an online dating site. Peterson walked into her West Jordan home, pushed her onto the couch and sexually assaulted her after she told him to stop.
» On April 21, 2012, Peterson met with another woman he met through a dating website. He pushed her down on the bed in her Salt Lake City home and grabbed her. After a struggle, the woman managed to get him out of her house.
One of Peterson's attorneys, Cara Tangaro, have said that she and co-counsel Jerry Salcido plan to present a wealth of information at the preliminary hearing "about the strength, or lack thereof, of this case."
Peterson, a certified public accountant and the owner of Peterson Wealth Management, has been a fixture at Utah Republican events. He organized the Rocky Mountain Conservatives Convention and Barbecue two years ago at his Heber cabin, which has attracted a roster of prominent Utah politicians, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, Gov. Gary Herbert, Rep. Jason Chaffetz and congressional candidate Mia Love.
After the charges were filed, three more women alleged that Peterson also assaulted them. Until Monday, no additional charges had been filed based on those claims.
"We're not willing to rule out further charges, but we're not ready to proceed on anything else yet at this time," said Wasatch County Attorney Scott Sweat.