GOP activist accused of rape won't appear in court
The Republican activist accused in five sexual assaults may not attend his own trial.
At an arraignment Friday in 3rd District Court, Gregory Nathan Peterson waived his right to appear at future court hearings, unless prosecutors or his defense attorneys require his presence. His next hearing date was set for November.
Defense attorney Cara Tangaro indicated she may file a request for his $2 million bail to be lowered and possibly ask for a new evidentiary hearing.
The 37-year-old Orem resident is accused of assaulting four women while on dates. He met all of them because of his membership in the Mormon church, according to prosecutors and the women' testimony. He allegedly raped two of the women at his cabin in Heber, the same residence in which he hosted gatherings for notable Utah Republicans. The other women were assaulted at their homes, prosecutors say.
He is also accused in a separate case filed in Wasatch County of sexually abusing a fifth woman, who prosecutors say stopped Peterson by putting her hand on her gun.
The Orem man was bound over for trial last week on 25 charges that include assault, rape and kidnapping. Peterson has not yet entered formal pleas.
During a preliminary hearing on the charges, the women testified that Peterson became sexually aggressive almost immediately. The women said they complied with some of his demands because he either hit them or told them he had a gun.
One of the women, an undocumented immigrant from Brazil, testified that Peterson told her he could get her deported but that she could trust him. He subsequently took her to the Heber cabin, where he assaulted her overnight before taking her to his mother's house where the abuse continued for two days, she testified.
Peterson, a certified public accountant and the owner of Peterson Wealth Management, has been a fixture at Utah Republican events.
Tangaro has said Peterson is "eager to appear in court and clear his name," but did not take questions from reporters Friday. Third District Judge Katherine Bernards-Goodman refused a request to lower Peterson's bail last month, before it was raised to $2 million following his preliminary hearing.
P The next hearing for GOP activist Gregory Nathan Peterson on 26 sex assault-related charges is Nov. 2 at 2 p.m.
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