SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Justice Files looked into how much work Utah’s Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD) spent trying to restore Jonathan Soberanis, a man accused of violating children on multiple occasions, to competency.
In almost all of the following cases, a judge dismissed the charges and released him from jail, saying he was not competent to stand trial.
- 2015: Soberanis was banned from a rec center, accused of masturbating in front of others in a locker room, according to authorities
- May 2018: Soberanis was arrested for allegedly masturbating in front of a child at a public mall, according to authorities
- December 2018: Soberanis was arrested for crawling under a dressing room stall to allegedly watch an eight-year-old boy disrobe; exposing his genitals and masturbating in front of a child, according to authorities
- May 2021: Soberanis reportedly broke into a residence and lied to law enforcement about his identity, according to authorities
- June 2021: Soberanis reportedly sexually assaulted a five-year-old and urinated on the boy’s feet, according to authorities
- June 2021: Soberanis faced charges for allegedly assaulting a police officer, according to charging documents
- October 2021: While in custody, Soberanis was suspected of committing more crimes, according to authorities
- January 2022: Soberanis was arrested for a string of alleged voyeurism offenses, according to authorities
Stephanie Davis, a next-door neighbor, said she met Soberanis nearly two years ago after he tried to get her son while he was home alone. Davis said Soberanis lived next to them and watched her kids play for months.
In 2022, the Utah Attorney General’s Office filed new charges after a federal investigation reportedly found Soberanis used a New Zealand storage platform to download and share child pornography with end-to-end encryption.
The AG’s office also took over Davis’ case and refiled several other charges including aggravated sexual abuse of a child for an incident that happened back in 2021.
In the fall of 2022, his defense argued Soberanis was not competent to stand trial on the state criminal charges. However, because of new evidence presented involving his pornography charges, the judge ordered Soberanis to receive restoration treatment — saying it appears “there may be a substantial probability that [Soberanis’s] competency may be restored in the foreseeable future.”
Soberanis was then assigned a restoration treatment provider from DSPD, but within four months, an evaluator determined the treatment was not working, and Soberanis was again found not competent to stand trial.
The evaluation of Soberanis’s restoration is not public, so The Justice Files requested the jail visitor’s log — something visible at virtually every jail in the U.S.
The Utah County Attorney’s Office denied this request, calling it an “invasion of privacy” by showing how much treatment he received.
The State Records Committee, however, ruled in the Justice Files’ favor. The jail log showed the treatment provider saw him 13 times.
The Justice Files backgrounded the provider and learned that the position does not require a license or degree. Davis said this is unacceptable.
“That’d be no different than me trying to restore him,” Davis said.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, providers use something called the “Slater Method.” While DHHS would not provide The Justice Files with any documents on the method or any other information regarding this method, past research articles indicate the method consists of five modules: education on court terms, court proceedings, communicating with an attorney, and tolerating the stress of a court proceeding.
From there, a report is submitted to a licensed psychologist who does their own tests and evaluations, according to DHHS.
Based on the jail log, however, no psychologist met with Soberanis after his treatment.
“It doesn’t make sense really. Like who is in charge?” Davis said.
Court records indicate a psychologist did file a report with the court 15 days later. Three days after that, on March 1st, a judge ruled Soberanis was not competent and released him from the case.
Disappointed in Utah’s laws, Davis said that if the state won’t step in, parents will soon be left with no choice.
“People would have to take it into their own hands. What else could we do? Allow him to continue? That’s the wrong choice,” Davis said.
While a majority of Soberanis’s state cases have been dismissed because of competency issues, he is currently facing federal child pornography charges.