Greg Peterson, GOP activist charged in sex abuse cases, discovered dead in cabin

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 23 2012 7:00 p.m. MDT

GOP activist Greg Peterson appears in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City on Aug. 15, 2012. He is charged with kidnapping, raping or abusing four women. He is accompanied by defense attorneys Cara Tangaro and Gerald Salcido. A judge has ruled that his bail will remain at $2 million.

Al Hartmann,

HEBER CITY — Greg Peterson, a businessman and GOP activist charged with raping or abusing five women, was found dead Tuesday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at the cabin where many of his alleged assaults took place.

His death comes just four days after his release from the Salt Lake County Jail after he met his $2 million dollar bail requirement with the help of a bail bonding company.

"This has been a tragedy of a case from the beginning and there's been nothing good about this case all the way through," Wasatch County Attorney Scott Sweat said Tuesday night.

Peterson, 37, had been ordered to stand trial on 25 charges, including 10 counts of forcible sexual abuse, seven counts of object rape, three counts of rape, and one count each of aggravated kidnapping, forcible sodomy, burglary and sexual battery. A preliminary hearing was also scheduled in Wasatch County on a separate but similar case involving a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by Peterson.

As part of his deal with All Out Bail Bonds, Peterson was required to wear an ankle monitor so the bail bonding company could track his movement. Bail bondsmen had been trying to get in touch with Peterson earlier in the day so they could visit him and recharge his monitor, said Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner.

"They had been trying to make contact with him, was unsuccessful in doing so. So they had made contact with his attorney, and she had not, from what I understand, had not spoken to him or knew of anything that was going on with him," Bonner said.

Peterson's attorney had also sent a text to her client earlier Tuesday to notify him of a new bail hearing requested by Wasatch County in their case, Bonner said. He did not reply to her text. Bonner said the bondsmen did notice activity on Peterson's ankle monitor earlier in the afternoon. It showed he was walking around outside his cabin.

Two bail bondsmen eventually went to Peterson's Heber City cabin at 10160 E. Ridge Pines, about 5 p.m.

"They did walk around the residence, all the lights were out. They noticed a door was unlocked and entered. Both of them were yelling his name as they were going throughout the home. No answer. They did find him … in an upstairs bedroom, appeared to be deceased," the sheriff said.

About 30 minutes later, two of Bonner's deputies who knew Peterson went to the cabin and positively identified him.

"We are shocked and saddened by Greg's untimely and unforeseen death," Peterson's attorneys,  Jerry Salcido & Cara Tangaro said in a prepared statement released Tuesday night.

"Greg always maintained his innocence and was confidant that had a jury been presented with the entire case, he would have been acquitted.  Greg felt an enormous pressure from the media and their one-sided and inaccurate reporting of this case which villianized him from day one," the statement said.

Following the discovery of Peterson's body, Bonner said he contacted Peterson's mother, who was out of state, to notify her of her son's death.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said his office called the women who testified against Peterson in a preliminary hearing to tell them of his death.

"From the moment that he had bailed out ... we were staying in contact with all of our victims," he said. "When the victims were contacted, they went through a full range of emotions from relief to actually just stopping what they were doing and trying to get composure of what was going on."

"I can't speak to whether he should have been let out or not. We'd asked for a $2 million bail for a reason. But he made bail and he was out there," Gill said. "Making bail is a constitutional right."

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