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Chris Rebstock. Courtesy image.
Charges filed against man accused of groping girl at Festival of Trees
Courts » In 1982, when the suspect was 16, he strangled a young girl with a broomstick.
First Published Dec 05 2012 10:24 am • Last Updated Apr 08 2013 11:32 pm

Criminal charges were filed Wednesday against the man accused of groping a girl after a performance at the Festival of Trees in Sandy.

Christopher J. Rebstock, 47, was charged in 3rd District Court with one count of first-degree felony aggravated sexual abuse of a minor. The charge was enhanced because of Rebstock’s 2001 conviction for attempted aggravated sexual abuse against a child.

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Rebstock, who was still on parole for the 2001 case, was returned to prison on a parole violation, Sandy police said Wednesday.

Rebstock was arrested Friday after a woman saw the man near a group of dancers and their parents at the Festival of Trees. She saw him brush by an 11-year-old girl and grab the girl’s buttocks, according to Sandy police Sgt. Jon Arnold. The woman talked to the girl and confirmed what had happened, then reported it to security at the South Towne Exposition Center.

Rebstock tried to run when security guards approached, Arnold said, but eventually was caught by the alleged victim’s father and security officers, who arrested him.

According to court and corrections officials, Rebstock had served prison time in Louisiana for killing a 12-year-old New Orleans girl when he was 16 years old.

Rebstock pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection to the January 1982 death of Lara Deutsch. Rebstock — who was originally charged with murder —was sentenced in 1983 to serve 21 years in prison for the crime, but he was released in 1993 after spending just over 10 years in the prison, according to corrections officials in Louisiana.

Lara’s brother, Dana Deutsch, said that Rebstock was 16 when he used a broken broomstick to strangle the 12-year-old girl in her front yard on the night of Jan. 10, 1982. Deutsch said that Rebstock was a neighborhood friend who was the same age as him.

"He was somebody I spoke with every single day," Deutsch said in a telephone interview from New Orleans. "I never really saw that he had that monster in him, and that’s what makes him dangerous."

Lara was friends with Rebstock’s little sister and had been playing at Rebstock’s house that day. She went home at about 9 p.m. that night and was met by Rebstock in her front yard. At some point, Rebstock came up behind her and strangled her, Deutsch said.


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When Lara didn’t return home that night, police and families in the neighborhood canvassed the area. Deutsch, then 16, was the one who discovered his sister’s body hidden in a nearby clubhouse. Deutsch said the police later suspected Rebstock as the killer because the teenager had previously made harassing phone calls to another girl in which he described killing, raping and dismembering young girls.

According to a 1982 opinion by the Supreme Court of Louisiana, 16-year-old Rebstock admitted to his father that he killed Deutsch. He also gave a recorded confession to police, but the confession was eventually suppressed because he never signed a waiver of rights when questioned in January 1982. The confession was ruled inadmissible in court and Rebstock eventually pleaded down to a manslaughter charge.

Several years after he was released from prison, Rebstock came to Utah, and, in 1997, he was arrested for battery and disturbing the peace. He pleaded guilty to the charges as part of a plea in abeyance, and the charges were dismissed in 1998.

In 2001, Rebstock pleaded guilty to first-degree felony attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a child in connection with a September 2000 episode involving a 4-year-old boy in Salt Lake City.

He was sentenced to three years to life in prison and placed on Utah’s sex offender registry after his release on parole in March 2009.

Deutsch, now 47, said he has been following Rebstock through the sex offender registry for years. His oldest daughter is named after Lara, he said.

"I’m not sure what has kept him in Utah, but I’m glad he’s staying there," Deutsch said.

He said he hopes that this latest offense will give law enforcement an excuse to lock away his sister’s killer for a long time.

"Hopefully Utah gets it right this time," he said.

Rebstock’s initial court appearance on the new charge is set for Dec. 12 before Judge James Blanch.

jmiller@sltrib.com

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