PROVO — A judge signed a three-year civil stalking injunction against Gov. Gary Herbert's son Wednesday, banning Nathan Herbert from being within 50 yards of a woman.
Fourth District Judge James Taylor upheld the injunction after two separate days of testimony from both Herbert and Aiona Butters, who accused Herbert of stalking her for more than a year at various locations in the Provo-Orem area.
Taylor said that while both Butters and Herbert had weaknesses in their testimonies, Butters was ultimately "more credible" than Herbert.
"She is influenced by the fears and concerns of her mother and others ... and she feeds on those concerns," Taylor said.
But while the judge said Butters was also "more emotional" than most who appear in court, Herbert — with a look the judge described as a "direct, almost unblinking, intense stare" and body language that he said smarted of arrogance — consistently minimized his behavior and was "not credible" in his sporadic memory of events.
Herbert, 40, who was supported at Wednesday's hearings by a number of people, including his mother and siblings, took the stand Wednesday to emphatically state that he did not know Butters. He said without hesitation that he had never met her or contacted her in any way.
He reiterated that after the hearing.
"This is a girl I do not know, and to this day, I can't pronounce her name. She doesn't occupy space in my thoughts. She came in and made up spectacular lies."
This view was supported by Utah's first lady, Jeanette Herbert, who said she thinks Butters' story was full of holes. She was also clear in stating that she stands by her son.
"It's a very difficult day," she said. "We believe in Nathan 100 percent. We know his soul, and the story he told today is true."
She said she feels her son was wrongly accused and that the judge "decided before this even started."
"I do not think the judge did his job today ... and the governor feels the same way," she said.
Nathan Herbert said he would abide by the order, which prevents him from going to Utah Valley University or the Gold's Gym in Orem.
"I will respect the judge's decision, but I do not agree in any way," he said.
The governor's son, however, had plenty to say about Butters.
"I think she likes the attention. She's kind of a drama queen. She found her way to the front page of the news."
Despite the loss, Nathan Herbert said he was glad he could tell his side of the story, calling his experience on the stand a "victory."
"It came to a point where I felt I needed to fight more aggressively," he said after the hearing. "She made whole scenarios up out of whole cloth."
Butters, a mother of two, said she was happy the judge believed her and granted the injunction.
"This has been a nightmare. It's been a battle, but I'm so grateful to have an injunction in place," she said. "I'm relieved to be able to go about my business and be a mom like I'm supposed to. ... Hopefully, he'll recognize he needs to stop."
She was tearful as she said she repeatedly tried to give Herbert the benefit of the doubt but began to fear for her safety.
"His behavior crossed the boundaries of normalcy," she said, noting that she never claimed Herbert touched her, followed her or talked to her. "Enough was enough."
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