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Judge orders former LDS branch leader to stand trial in sexual assault

Published February 5, 2013 8:46 am

Courts • Man, 46, allegedly groped girl, attacked her mom, bit brother's penis.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

They didn't know who he was or what he wanted. They didn't even know his real name.

But a woman, her 20-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter testified Monday in 3rd District Court that a man, known to them only as Frank, twice barged into their Millcreek home, sexually assaulted the teenager, attacked the mother and bit the son's penis so severely he required reparative surgery.

Efrey Guzman, 46, a former LDS branch president of a Latino congregation in Sandy, was charged with aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary, first-degree felonies; and sex abuse of a child and forcible sexual abuse, second-degree felonies.

After nearly three hours of witness testimony Monday, a judge ordered Guzman to stand trial.

If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

Neither the girl nor her mother would look directly at Guzman as they recounted what allegedly happened the last time they saw the man on Aug. 8, 2012.

"He came to the door asking for [my daughter]; he screamed her name," the mother said. "He immediately pushed in the door, and he grabbed me … I said to [my daughter], 'Don't come.' But he put his hand over my mouth so I couldn't scream."

In the struggle, the mother said, Guzman ripped her shirt, grabbed her exposed breast and choked her as he attempted to undo his pants.

"He was trying to rape me," the mother said. "I kept trying to get him off, and I was screaming for my son."

When her 20-year-old son heard the screams, he said, he saw his mother struggling with a man in the entranceway of the house.

He recognized the man, he said. It was the same man who he caught kissing and fondling his then-12-year-old sister inside their home about three months before.

"He started walking to my sister's door, but the door was locked," the brother said. "I was trying to jump on his back when both him and me fell on the ground. His head landed on my stomach."

That's when Guzman bit his penis through his boxer shorts, the 20-year-old said. He said the man pulled on it with his teeth, ripping the skin. He felt blood drip down his thigh.

"I bit him on his face after I saw [my son's] injury," the mother said. "I was punching him and biting him, and when his hand was on my breast, I bit his arm — and I would do it again, too!"

The eighth-grade girl, who said she was in her room throughout the commotion, called 911.

Of the three, the teenager was the only one who had seen the defendant several times before — he would stop by the house looking for her mother, she said. He told her he was a friend.

On May 8, the girl said, he pushed his way into the home, forced her up against a wall and kissed her on the mouth. When she told him to stop, she said, he said no.

He left without a struggle after he had grabbed her buttocks, she said.

Defense attorney Bel-Ami de Montreux pointed to numerous inconsistencies in the family's testimony as proof of its unreliability.

"We are confident we will put on a very compelling case when we go to trial," he said after the preliminary hearing.

Guzman, who listened to Monday's proceedings with the help of a Spanish-language interpreter, was released from his calling as a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after he was charged in August.

He had been a branch president of a Latino congregation in Sandy. A branch is smaller than a ward.

Several members of his congregation attended the hearing in a show of support.

He will be arraigned on Feb. 22.

mlang@sltrib.com

Twitter: marissa_jae