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Salt Lake City attorney waives preliminary hearing on sex charges

Published August 23, 2013 8:02 pm

Courts • Steven Kuhnhausen accused of paying 17-year-old girl for sex with cash, drugs and alcohol.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Longtime Utah defense attorney Steven Kuhnhausen — accused of paying a teenage girl for sex with drugs, money and alcohol — on Friday waived his right to a preliminary hearing, where a judge hears evidence and decides if a trial should be held.

A scheduling hearing was set for Oct. 4.

Kuhnhausen, 65, is charged in 3rd District Court with 14 felony and misdemeanor counts of unlawful sexual contact with a 16- or 17-year-old and enticing a minor over the Internet related to an alleged four-month sexual relationship he is accused of having with a 17-year-old girl.

According to court documents, the victim told police that she and Kuhnhausen began having sex just after her 17th birthday, in August 2012, and continued through January of this year. The girl said the attorney would pay her with money and gifts.

Search warrants reveal that investigators believe the teen was introduced to Kuhnhausen by a mutual acquaintance, who had provided the attorney with prostitutes on several occasions in the past.

"Generally every time she would go to [Kuhnhausen's home], they would have a couple shots of Patron or Jagermeister, smoke a little weed and have sex," the search warrants read. The teenager also told police that Kuhnhausen's weed "wasn't that good" and that he also gave her marijuana cookies.

She said he was aware of her age because she told him she wasn't old enough to buy smoking papers, for which the minimum age is 18.

When police ultimately searched Kuhnhausen's home, they found at least four grams of marijuana inside a prescription bottle with his name on it, as well as a purple glass bong, according to the warrants.

No drug charges have been filed against Kuhnhausen.

Kuhnhausen, a 1977 graduate of the University of Utah Law School, was admitted to the Utah Bar Association in 1978.

He is best known for his involvement as a defense attorney for members of the John Singer family, in particular, matriarch Vickie Singer, in the years following the polygamous clan's 1988 bombing of a Mormon chapel in Summit County. That bombing led to an armed standoff between law enforcement and Addam Swapp and his family, during which Corrections Officer Fred House was shot and killed.

In addition to criminal defense work, Kuhnhausen handles family law and divorce cases.

all.justice@sltrib.com