SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — On several occasions, Jonathan Soberanis has faced charges involving violating children, but every time a judge has dismissed the charges because he was deemed incompetent to stand trial.
In his latest case, the judge did something they’ve never done with Soberanis — They ordered him to undergo restoration treatment to bring him to competency.
The Utah Department of Health and Human Services was ordered to spend 90 days working with Soberanis in the hopes of restoring competency. But the evaluator returned to the judge with the same determination — Soberanis is not competent.
Soberanis’s most recent case involves two incidents, including one where he is accused of sexually assaulting a 5-year-old at the Lehi Legacy Center, a facility he was banned from in 2015 for masturbating in the locker room, according to court documents.
The judge said his hands were tied.
“I will note that I am extremely concerned about the victims in this case, victims from prior cases and potential future victims. However, this Court has to work within the laws of this state. And unfortunately, this is where we are left,” said Judge Sean Petersen.
Prosecutors claim Soberanis plays up his disability and the judge also noted inconsistencies in his abilities, but the judge ordered Soberanis’ charges be dismissed without prejudice. The charges include lewdness involving a child, assault on a peace officer and aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
Unlike past cases, Soberanis will remain in jail for the time being. He also faces federal charges, accused of using a New Zealand storage platform to download and distribute child pornography with end-to-end encryption.
With this federal case, he will be evaluated again at the federal level, which has a different legal standard. If he is found competent in that federal case, the Attorney General’s Office said it would allow them to revisit this case in the future.