Judge refuses to reduce bail for Greg Peterson on rape charges
Republican activist Gregory Nathan Peterson will remain in jail on rape and kidnapping charges after a judge on Wednesday refused to reduce the man's $750,000 bail.
Attorneys for the 37-year-old Peterson had hoped to have that amount reduced, but 3rd District Judge Katherine Bernards-Goodman sided with prosecutors, who called Peterson a flight risk and a danger to the community.
"He's shown a complete lack of ability to control his sexual urges," Salt Lake County prosecutor Joseph Hill told the judge.
Peterson is accused of sexually assaulting four women whom he asked out on dates.
Defense attorney Cara Tangaro said Peterson would voluntarily hand over his passport and would avoid dating websites and LDS singles wards if the judge were to reduce his bail to $25,000 cash, or $200,000 bondable bail.
Tangaro noted that law enforcement first contacted Peterson in early May about some of the allegations against him and the man did not run.
"To say that Mr. Peterson is eager to appear in court and clear his name is an understatement," Tangaro said.
Attorney Lorie Hobbs, who represents two of the alleged victims in the case, said the women are "adamant in objecting to lowering his bail" and are "finally at peace knowing Mr. Peterson is incarcerated."
Tangaro said she and fellow defense attorney Gerald Salcido only recently received the police reports in the case, but already have begun finding holes.
"I think there's going to be a lot of things that come out â¦ about the strength, or lack thereof, of this case," Tangaro said.
Peterson was arrested in 2011, but Wasatch County prosecutors declined to file charges against him. Tangaro said the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office "had to stretch pretty far" to include that case in last week's charges by attaching a kidnapping count.
In another case, Tangaro said, a woman refused to complete a Code R (rape) test and said she did not want law enforcement involved. And another woman waited over a week to speak with police and reportedly told investigators, "I did not know you could report an attempted sexual assault," Tangaro said.
Bernards-Goodman said that anyone charged with these types of crimes would have to be considered a flight risk. The nature of the allegations also played into her decision to deny the reduction.
"There were guns used, there were threats used, there was violence allegedly used," the judge said.
With the bail reduction denied, Peterson's attorneys asked for a preliminary hearing within 10 days. He has been at the Salt Lake County jail since July 18.
A hearing at which the preliminary hearing could be set was scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. before Judge Judith Atherton.
In all, Peterson is charged with 23 felonies and two misdemeanors.
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.
•Â 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.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said he reviewed a fifth woman's case involving allegations from August 2009 but declined to prosecute because he could not prove that she didn't consent to having sex with Peterson. The fifth woman, Gill said, told Peterson she "felt uncomfortable, and that was the only thing she said."
When the March 2011 case came to the attention of law enforcement, Wasatch County Attorney Scott Sweat said he declined to file charges believing he lacked the evidence to prove the he-said, she-said case in court.
But Gill said the combined allegations of that woman and the three others allowed him to file charges based on a pattern of criminal behavior.
Peterson, of Orem, is a certified financial planner and the owner of Peterson Wealth Management and Smartstocks.com, an online trading website. He holds an MBA in finance and entrepreneurship from Brigham Young University.
He has also been a fixture at Utah Republican events.
Peterson organized the Rocky Mountain Conservatives Convention and Barbecue two years ago at his Heber cabin. Since then, prominent Utah politicians, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, Gov. Gary Herbert, Rep. Jason Chaffetz and congressional candidate Mia Love, have attended the event, which this year featured a debate between attorney general candidates John Swallow and Sean Reyes at Wasatch High and a keynote address by Lee.