SALT LAKE CITY — A judge declined Wednesday to reduce bail for a GOP activist facing rape and kidnapping charges.
"There were guns used, threats used and violence allegedly used," 3rd District Judge Katie Bernards-Goodman said of the allegations against Gregory Nathan Peterson. "Facing life (in prison) makes anybody a flight risk. … I'm going to deny the motion to reduce the bail."
The judge's decision came after defense attorneys and prosecutors presented arguments on whether the $750,000 bail was appropriate for the 37-year-old Orem man, who is facing 25 separate charges, including 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 involving four women.
Defense attorney Cara Tangaro argued that the $750,000 bail in the case was arbitrary and based on Peterson's perceived wealth. She also outlined and questioned each of the four alleged victims' stories and pointed to the fact that the Wasatch County Attorney's Office declined to file charges in one of those cases.
"To say Mr. Peterson is eager to appear in court and fight these charges and clear his name is an understatement," Tangaro told the judge.
She said her client would surrender his passport and agree to stay away from online dating websites and singles ward activities. She added that Peterson has already relinquished his firearms.
Prosecutor Joseph Hill countered that the bail amount was "commensurate with other cases" and argued that there would be "no way to police" Peterson's activities and keep him from meeting women at clubs or on social media.
"He's shown a complete lack of ability to control his sexual urges," Hill said of Peterson. "He is a danger to the community."
Lorie Hobbs, who appeared on behalf of two of the alleged victims, agreed with Hill and said her clients "adamantly objected" to any kind of bail reduction. She said her clients are terrified of Peterson and believe he has "a mindset to reoffend."
"I know they'll be pleased to know he's behind bars," she said after the hearing. "We're pleased the judge decided to uphold the bail amount."
Hill said he was pleased with the judge's decision. "We feel (Peterson's) a threat to the community and needs to stay behind bars until this is resolved," he said.
Although disappointed in Bernards-Goodman's ruling, Tangaro said she understood the judge's reasoning considering the seriousness of the allegations. But she continued to question the strength of the case.
"It's all trumped up," she said. "I think we're going to have good evidence to impeach these four women."
The judge's decision to deny the bail reduction prompted Tangaro to ask for a hearing on the evidence within 10 days. She said it may difficult to prepare for a preliminary hearing in such a short amount of time, but believes prosecutors will have to get ready.
"If you file this, if you're keeping him in custody, you better be ready to go," she said to prosecutors. "(Peterson) has been villainized and he wants to get his side of the story out there."
She said to be able to post $750,000 bail, Peterson would have to pay $75,000 to a bail bondsman and have $750,000 in collateral.
"Most of the population could not bail out on $750,000," Tangaro said. "But we're looking at options."
A preliminary hearing will likely be set when Peterson appears in court on Friday.
Peterson is an activist who held political events with Republican politicians at his cabin in Heber City, the same place where prosecutors allege he took at least two women after kidnapping them and then raping or sexually assaulting 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.