As the investigation into Greg Peterson’s apparent gunshot suicide continues, the five women whom the GOP activist allegedly sexually assaulted while they were out on dates are trying to move forward.
“They are dealing with this tragedy the best they can and are moving on with their lives,” Lorie Hobbs, an attorney with the Utah Crime Victims Legal Clinic, who represented two alleged victims, wrote in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Holly Mullen, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center, said that how those alleged rape victims move forward will be an individual process.
“It’s so individual for every person who is trying to heal from a rape or sexual assault,” Mullen said Thursday. “Some people really find that reporting it and going through the process and the anger very cathartic and helpful. Others proceed in a different way.”
Mullen has not been in contact with the four women who testified against Peterson during an August preliminary hearing in Salt Lake City, but she did attend some of the court proceedings and said she felt those women did gain some closure from testifying against Peterson.
“I think that they got some satisfaction in that they got to face him in court,” she said. “They got to tell their stories and they got to be heard ... They have to be heard. They have to feel like they matter and what happened to them was real ...”
A fifth alleged victim, whose case was filed in Wasatch County, will never get that chance to testify, as the preliminary hearing in her case was scheduled for late November.
And Peterson will never go to trial on the 25 charges of assault, rape and kidnapping filed in Salt Lake County in connection with allegedly attacking the four other women, some of whom he allegedly assaulted at his Heber cabin.
“There’s no question that there will never be a resolution now,” Mullen said. “That may be difficult or it may be a relief [for the women].”
She said a trial is often difficult for rape victims because they are “put through the wringer” on the witness stand.
Peterson was found dead in his Heber cabin on Tuesday after two men from All Out Bail Bonds, which posted the $2 million bail for Peterson on Oct. 19, went to his cabin because the battery on his ankle monitor needed to be recharged and he had not answered their calls, according to the Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner.
The two men arrived at the cabin, about eight miles east of Heber in an area called Timberlake Estates, shortly before 5 p.m. A door was unlocked, so they entered and found Peterson dead on a bed in an upstairs bedroom.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Jeremy Hales confirmed Thursday that Peterson, whose body underwent an autopsy Wednesday, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Michael Jolley, whom Peterson had hired to do some work for his company after seeing Jolley’s blog about the Republican convention, said Peterson reached out to him in those days after he was released from jail.
“One message he sent me was that for 72 hours, he had been reading,” Jolley told The Tribune. “And he meant articles and stuff about him, and I don’t know if that was healthy for him.”
Peterson’s attorneys placed much of the blame for his suicide on media reports, they said in a statement Tuesday evening.
“Greg felt an enormous pressure from the media, and their one-sided and inaccurate reporting of this case which villainized him from day one,” attorneys Jerry Salcido and Cara Tangaro wrote.
Peterson spent 93 days in jail before he bailed out.
Brian Cogburn, co-owner of All Out Bail Bonds, would not discuss the specifics of the bond, or details about the man’s death.
“We feel bad for the family,” Cogburn said Wednesday morning. “It’s an unfortunate incident and our hearts go out to the family.”
Defendants typically pay about 10 percent of the bail amount set by the court in cash or collateral to a bail bond company. The bail bond company, in turn, pays the whole amount to the court.
At the end of the court case, the money is returned to the bail bond company. If a defendant absconds, the bond company forfeits the money.
In the case of a death, a bail bond company typically will provide proof of death to the court and the bail money is released.
Deputy Salt Lake County District Attorney Joseph Hill said someone who is released on bail generally doesn’t have restrictions placed on them unless a judge orders them. Hill said he recalls 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton ordering Peterson to have no contact with the alleged victims, but no other restrictions — including possessing firearms — were mentioned.
Hill said he felt the $2 million bail — which was upped from $750,000 after Peterson was bound over on the charges in August — was appropriate to hold him at the jail.
“A lot of time in homicide cases, we don’t have bail set by the court that high,” he said. “I think it was the best we could have hoped for. I just don’t think there’s anything else we could have done to have a higher bail.”