Judge weighing evidence in case of Ogden therapist accused of child sex abuse

Published: Wednesday, June 18 2014 7:02 p.m. MDT

Brian P. Gomez sits at the defense table during a preliminary hearing Wednesday, June 18, in 4th District Court in Heber City. Gomez, 40, is charged with six counts of sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony. He is accused of sexually abusing two girls who were staying in his hotel suite on Dec. 31, 2013.

Geoff Liesik, Deseret News

HEBER CITY — An Ogden therapist will have to wait to find out whether he will stand trial for allegations that he sexually molested two girls during a Dec. 31 stay at a Wasatch County hotel.

Brian P. Gomez, 40, appeared in 4th District Court for a preliminary hearing Wednesday on six counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child, a first-degree felony.

Arguments from the prosecution and the defense centered on whether Gomez occupied a position of special trust with the two girls when the alleged abuse occurred — a legal distinction that enhances the charges against him from second-degree felonies to first-degree felonies.

Deputy Wasatch County Attorney McKay King said the evidence shows Gomez was acting as a baby sitter for the girls, which put him in a position of authority and gave him the ability to exercise influence over the girls.

"He made the offer to take the children, and he is the one who accepted the children," King said. "That was the testimony in court today."

Video recordings of police interviews with the girls, conducted at the Children's Justice Center, were not played in court Wednesday. The girls' father, however, did take the witness stand.

The man testified that his family accepted a "late invitation" from Gomez's family to celebrate New Year's Eve at a hotel in Wasatch County. He was unable to get a room large enough to accommodate his family on such short notice but said his wife received a text message from Gomez's cellphone offering to let three of their daughters sleep in the suite the Gomez family had rented.

The girls stayed in Gomez's suite while their parents went back to their own room, according to court records. The father received a text message from one of his daughters about 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 1, stating: "I think Bryan is a pedifile (sic) and I'm kind (of) scared." The father didn't see the text, however, until 8:45 a.m.

The next day, two of the girls told the other adults that Gomez had touched them under their pajamas, charging documents state.

Defense attorney Earl Xaiz disputed the prosecution's claim that Gomez was acting as a baby sitter for the girls and dismissed the idea that his client held a position of special trust.

"One family had more room than the other, so some of the children slept in (the Gomez family's) room with three adults and several other children," Xaiz said. "It was not your 'baby-sitting' situation."

Convincing the judge to reduce the sex abuse charges from first-degree felonies to second-degree felonies, however, is not the goal in this case, Xaiz said.

"My client's position is that he did not do anything with either of these alleged victims," the defense attorney said.

"At trial, we're not going to be asking the jury to find him not guilty of the lesser offense anyway," Xaiz added. "We're going to be asking them to find him not guilty on each of the six counts."

Gomez, who promotes himself as having expertise in working with children who have autism, agreed to surrender his license to the state while the case against him is pending. As a condition of bail, he is also barred from seeing patients and must wear a GPS tracking device.

Judge Steven Hansen, who has already watched the Children's Justice Center interviews, did not provide a timetable Wednesday for when he expects to reach a decision on whether Gomez should be bound over for trial and which charges, if any, he should face.

Email: gliesik@deseretnews.com, Twitter: GeoffLiesik

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS