Utah gun advocate's ex-wife presses for protective order
The day Clark Aposhian was served with divorce papers, his ex-wife testified Monday, he took the woman's handgun and locked it away.
He leaned in close, she said, and asked her: "Do you feel threatened now?"
She was terrified.
"He has an entire arsenal full of firearms, and I have nothing," Natalie Meyer said of that day in April 2008. "I've been emotionally abused for years. And after you've been abused for so long, I didn't know what to expect physically."
It was the first of a years-long saga of threats, abuse and fear that Natalie Meyer said she's suffered at the hands of Aposhian, Utah's foremost gun advocate, since the pair's marriage dissolved.
On Monday, she sat before a judge and asked that he issue a protective order against her ex-husband. Third District Judge Andrew Stone will issue his ruling next month after both sides have had a chance to make closing arguments.
But Aposhian's attorney Morgan Philpot said there has been no legal or medical documentation of any ongoing abuse between Aposhian and his ex-wife.
He accused Meyer of "stringing together" unconnected incidents over the span of nearly five years in an attempt to prove that Aposhian had a pattern of threatening behavior. It's a reach, he said.
"You've never before mentioned abuse or domestic violence in court proceedings," Philpot said. "This does not rise to the level of requiring a protective order."
He pointed out that Aposhian had never physically abused Meyer or their daughter.
In her divorce filings, Meyer never mentioned any ongoing abuse emotional, verbal or otherwise and despite a mutual restraining order that instructed both he and she to communicate strictly through email most confrontations took place in person, with no documented or traceable evidence.
In nearly two hours of cross-examination on the witness stand, Meyer grew agitated. Her voice cracked as she spoke about the years of anxiety she felt over what her ex-husband might do next.
"I try to avoid contact with him, especially when we're in ugly situations," she said on the stand. "He's scary when he gets angry. .... Just him being there is threatening."
Her new husband, Ronald Meyer, testified at the beginning of Monday's hearing. He said Natalie Meyer became anxious and agitated whenever she had to interact with her ex.
"Every time she deals with him, she gets shaken and tearful," Ronald Meyer said.
Stone presided over the hearing Monday after 3rd District Court Commissioner Michelle Blomquist ordered the evidence in this case heard by a judge after declaring the case "highly unusual" and requesting that all evidence be re-examined.
It's a case Blomquist didn't want to take lightly, she said, because in addition to instituting a protective order that would keep Aposhian away from his ex-wife, with whom he shares a daughter, it may impact Aposhian's ability to access his arsenal of more than 300 firearms, which he uses to teach firearm classes and have been confiscated for the duration of these proceedings.
His attorney hopes that, if the judge denies Natalie Meyer's protective-order petition, Aposhian may be able to reclaim them.
A stalking injunction was issued against Aposhian by Ronald Meyer in August. It orders that Aposhian come no closer than 150 feet to the man lest he run the risk of further punishment, including criminal charges and jail time.
It was imposed by 3rd District Judge Terry Christiansen, who ruled that Aposhian committed two acts of stalking since 2010, the details of which were recapped during Monday's hearing.
In the first incident, Aposhian and Ronald Meyer had a confrontation in the middle of the road as Meyer left Aposhain's ex-wife's home in 2010.
The most recent of the two incidents happened on Memorial Day.
It was also the day that led to domestic-violence charges against Aposhian and the petition for a protective order by Natalie Meyer.
Aposhian is accused of driving a 2.5-ton military vehicle onto his ex-wife's driveway and threatening to run over Ronald Meyer's car. Aposhian has insisted that he used the driveway only to make a U-turn in the cul-de-sac where the family lives.
Later, Aposhian returned to the Meyer home, where he was met by police officers.
Officers testified Monday that Aposhian was uncooperative, boisterous and loud.
"I felt that at any point," testified Cottonwood Heights police officer Christopher McHugh, "violence was very, very probable."
Aposhian was armed at the time of his arrest with a gun and a knife.
He is scheduled to appear in Holladay Justice Court again next month for a pre-trial conference before Judge Augustus Chin.
Whether the gun lobbyist can get back his weapons may also depend on the outcome of that case.
Aposhian faces misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass, criminal mischief, domestic violence in the presence of a child and threat of violence.