This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2004, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A gospel teacher at a Mormon ward in Syracuse allegedly fondled four young girls, some of them while they were praying or coloring religious pictures in his class.
Aaron Marcos Montoya, 32, of Syracuse, is charged in Farmington's 2nd District Court with five counts of aggravated sexual abuse, a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison.
On Wednesday, Montoya, who was booked into the Davis County Jail on Tuesday, appeared in Farmington's 2nd District Court, where bail was set at $100,000.
Montoya works as a bailiff at the Scott M. Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office, which provides security to the building, has placed Montoya on paid administrative leave.
A week ago, one of the girls reported the alleged fondling to her parents, who contacted police, said Syracuse Police Sgt. Mark Sessions. Investigators located two other girls with similar accusations the next day.
Police arrested Montoya late Tuesday night, waiting for him to return from a trip to the East Coast, Sessions said. Just hours after his arrest, police identified a fourth potential victim, who claimed Montoya stuck his hand up her skirt at his home while the girl was playing with Montoya's children. The other four incidents allegedly took place inside a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meeting house in Syracuse in the past month. One of the girls told police she was abused twice.
Two of the alleged victims were 5 years old and two were 6, according to the charges.
In most of the incidents, Montoya allegedly sat behind the girls in Primary class and reached his hand up their skirts. Two of the girls said this happened while they were praying, according to the charges. Montoya had been teaching the class for the past year, Sessions said.
During the short court hearing Wednesday, Montoya said he would be hiring his own attorney. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 5.
The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office learned of the allegations late Tuesday and immediately placed Montoya on leave, said Sgt. Rosie Rivera. Montoya has worked for the Sheriff's Office since 1995.
Rivera said an internal investigation will be conducted after his court case is resolved.
"We will deal with it on our side, but we don't want to interfere with the criminal investigation at all," she said.