SALT LAKE CITY — Attorneys for a GOP activist facing multiple counts of kidnapping, rape and sexual abuse believe an example is being made of their client and are adamant that he is innocent.
Gregory Nathan Peterson, 37, was arraigned Monday on 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 in 3rd District Court.
The hearing lasted less than 10 minutes as the Orem man was advised of the charges against him and his attorneys asked for a hearing to discuss lowering his bail.
Bail is currently set at $750,000.
"It's completely arbitrary," defense attorney Cara Tangaro said. "It's based on his perceived ability to pay it, which is why we'll ask (the assigned judge) to lower it to a reasonable amount."
Tangaro believes the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office is "attempting to make an example" of her client, but said she is confident that Peterson will be acquitted.
"We believe we can discredit all (of the alleged victims) and the reason is, our client is innocent," Tangaro said.
Prosecutor Joseph Hill called the bail "in line with a case of this magnitude" and said the alleged victims are being cooperative. He said the fact that there are multiple alleged victims makes it a strong case.
"They're very serious charges and we intend on prosecuting them aggressively," Hill said. "There are similarities there and they do point to a pattern of behavior."
He said no additional victims have come forward since charges were filed. The alleged victims will have the option of addressing the judge at a bail hearing set for Wednesday.
Holly Mullen, executive director for the Rape Recovery Center, attended Monday's hearing and said the Peterson case demonstrates that there is not "one, typical profile of an alleged rapist." She said only 10 percent of rape cases are reported and prosecutors have a difficult time with the cases, especially when it comes to people believing the victims.
"It's still very hard for victims to come forward in a society that still blames victims," she said. "There are a lot of people heaping on blame and questions and scrutiny."