SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – A Utah Republican activist accused of sexually assaulting four women makes his first court appearance in front of a judge Wednesday.Gregory Peterson faces 25 counts of rape, kidnapping, sexual abuse, sexual battery, assault, and burglary
. Peterson’s attorney says the charges from four women are false, claiming prosecutors in Wasatch County declined to prosecute at least one of the cases.
When the first woman came forward claiming the Republican activist assaulted her at his Heber cabin Wasatch County attorney Scott Sweat didn't file charges because he allegedly lacked evidence.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill says he's understands why Sweat didn't file charges. “He was looking into one case and trying to develop one case,” said Gill. “What I had was the luxury of looking at multiple cases."
Gill explains that it wasn't until Unified Police detectives pulled up Peterson's name in the available Salt Lake County databases that they realized he had been accused before.
"We could actually put cases next to each other and see exactly what patterns and similarities and what common things started to emerge out of that,” said Gill.
One, two, three, four then five cases from March of 2011 to April of 2012, although Gill only chose to go to court with four. Today Gill told ABC 4 News there may be more women. Since the case was filed three women have called his office regarding Peterson, one as recent as Monday morning. It’s unclear whether these women are more alleged victims or people with information; Gill says they’re still investigating.
Peterson’s attorney Cara Tangaro claims at least two of the known accusers are lying about the alleged assaults. Tangaro said, "On two of the alleged victims we have fairly good evidence against them these are not truthful allegations."
Tangaro is also questioning why the cases are being prosecuted in Salt Lake County when some of the alleged assaults happened in Heber. Gill claims it’s because Peterson met all of his alleged victims in Salt Lake County.
Peterson remains in the Salt Lake County jail where he’s been held since Wednesday on a $750,000 bond.