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GOP activist charged with kidnapping, raping 4 women

Published: Thursday, July 19 2012 11:33 p.m. MDT

Photo of rape suspect Gregory N. Peterson, in background, with Gov. Gary R. Herbert in foreground.

Flickr,

SALT LAKE CITY — A GOP activist who prosecutors say kidnapped and raped women whom he met online and at church functions has been arrested and charged with 23 felonies.

He appears to have targeted mostly LDS adult women.

Gregory Nathan Peterson, 37, of Orem, was charged Wednesday with seven counts of rape, three counts of object rape, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, nine counts of forcible sexual abuse, forcible sodomy, assault, burglary and sexual battery.

Peterson is a GOP activist who held political events at his cabin in Heber City, 10160 E. Ridge Pine Drive, the same place where prosecutors allege he took at least two women after kidnapping them and then raped them. One of those attacks, according to investigators, happened just one day after a political event.

Investigators have identified four victims dating back to March of 2011. Peterson met three of the victims on an online dating site and another at a church function, according to the charges.

Prosecutors would not say Thursday which online dating services Peterson used. However, he had profiles on at least two online dating sites, LDSSingles.com and LDSLinkup.com. His last activity on LDSSingles.com was Wednesday before he was arrested.

On his dating profile, in which he used the profile name, "oddsrgoodbutgoodsrodd," Peterson stated that he had a LDS temple recommend and served a mission to Venezuela and also noted in his profile that he "regularly attends church."

"I have an open heart and an open mind, and I've been told that the best relationships on here come when the girl initiates contact with the guy," he wrote. "I have open heart to all situations and circumstances, so long as you want to have a family and bring that family back to God."

Peterson also says in his profile that he's looking for a woman who's into "physical fitness" and is under 35 so he can start a family with her soon.

By Thursday afternoon, Peterson's profile had been taken offline.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said his office considered filing charges in cases involving five women, but did not have strong enough evidence in one of the incidents.

One of the four women first went to the Wasatch County Attorney's Office but prosecutors there declined to file charges, Gill said. She then went to the Unified Police Department in March where investigators started putting together pieces of information from several alleged victims.

Once investigators in Salt Lake County began sharing information on the cases, they realized they were all looking at the same person, which made it a stronger case for prosecutors, Gill said.

"I saw a pattern that was not available to (Wasatch County Attorney) Scott (Sweat)," he said. "The strength of four victims coming forward speaks for itself."

But once Salt Lake County detectives realized what was going on, Gill said Wasatch County investigators were helpful in sharing the information they had already collected.

• On March 26, 2011, a woman told police she met Peterson at a church function in Draper and agreed to go to a movie with him. As they began driving, however, Peterson went in a different direction than the movie theater. He told the woman he was taking her to his cabin in Heber, the charges state.

When the woman told him to turn around, police say he told her he had a concealed weapons permit and pointed to the car's console.

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