A Plain City man accused of beating a fellow churchgoer at a Mormon baby blessing and mission farewell pleaded not guilty Wednesday to assault.
Wayne Dodge, 52, entered not guilty pleas to one count of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, and one count of assault, a class B misdemeanor, during a brief hearing Wednesday morning in Ogden’s 2nd District Court.
Prosecutors charged Dodge after he was involved in an “altercation” that stemmed from a seat-saving dispute at an Aug. 30 service at an LDS Church.
A judge also issued a no contact order Wednesday prohibiting Dodge from contacting the victim or the victim’s family.
Weber County Sheriff’s deputies say the altercation started when a man visiting the packed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meeting tried to reserve three rows of seats, including the spot where Dodge, a ward regular, normally sat. The visitor confronted Dodge, but he refused to move, according to police.
The two men later clashed in the parking lot, where Dodge reportedly punched the victim. The man ended up with a bloody face, according to sheriff’s deputies.
Weber County sheriff’s Lt. Mark Lowther said that after the fight, Dodge swerved to hit the victim with his car as he was driving away.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Ben Willoughby said Wednesday that Dodge’s next court appearance is set for Oct. 16. Willoughby anticipates the case eventually moving forward to a preliminary hearing.