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Appeals court upholds stalking injunction against governor's son, Nathan Herbert

Published: Friday, Nov. 23 2012 3:10 p.m. MST

Aiona Butters walks through courtroom hallways Nov. 12, 2010. The Utah Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a three-year stalking injunction she obtained against Nathan Herbert, Gov. Gary Herbert's son, and also ordered him to pay her attorney fees.

Steve Landeen, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Court of Appeals has upheld a stalking injunction filed against Gov. Gary Herbert's son by an Orem woman.

The injunction was requested in 2010 by Aiona Butters and granted by 4th District Judge James Taylor. The injunction prevents Nathan Herbert, 42, from going within 50 yards of Butters, her home, work, Utah Valley University or the gym where she works out.

The court of appeals' ruling on Friday upholds the three-year stalking injunction and requires Herbert to pay Butters' legal fees.

The stalking incidents date back to 2004 when Herbert was dating Butters' sister. Both Butters sisters successfully motioned the state to issue a stalking injunction against Herbert from 2005 until 2009. Just one month after that injunction expired, however, Aiona Butters reported the problems with Herbert began again, according to court records.

The problems included allegations of him circling a grocery store parking lot while she was there, staring at her at her local gym and chasing her from a library.

During a 2010 hearing for a new stalking injunction, Butters testified that it felt like Herbert was "raping me with his eyes."

Gov. Gary Herbert predicted that his son would be vindicated, but also said he would not get involved in the case. Fourth District Judge James Taylor granted the three-year civil stalking injunction in November 2010. That prompted Utah's first lady, Jeanette Herbert, to say she and her husband "do not think the judge did his job," arguing that the case was full of holes.

 Nathan Herbert called Butters a "drama queen" looking for attention. He appealed, arguing that his actions did not constitute stalking and were "innocuous" when looked at individually. He argued that a reasonable person would not have suffered emotional distress from such actions and also sought to have Butters pay his attorney fees.

In its Friday ruling, the Utah Court of Appeals said the fact that Butters went four years without seeing Herbert and then he started appearing just a month after the injunction expired was significant.

"Herbert’s bizarre confrontations with Butters clearly constitute the kind of 'course of conduct' contemplated by the stalking statute," the appeals court wrote in its decision. "The ensuing sequence of events goes well beyond anything that could possibly be dismissed as a series of coincidental and innocuous incidents.

"Indeed, a reasonable person would most certainly be afraid for her safety if, given their prior history, Herbert continually showed up and deliberately brought himself into contact with her even if his conduct did not amount to overt violence. In sum, we conclude that a reasonable person in Butters’ position would fear for her safety," the judges wrote in their decision.

The case was sent back to Taylor to determine how much Herbert should pay Butters' attorneys.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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