What he has told me and what he maintains is that nothing illegal has ever happened with any of these women. —Defense attorney Cara Tangaro
SALT LAKE CITY — Since his arrest last week, three additional women have stepped forward to accuse Gregory Peterson of attacking them, according to investigators.
Those new accusations are being investigated by detectives.
A two-day preliminary hearing for the GOP activist charged with raping and sexually assaulting four women was scheduled Friday for Aug. 14-15. The quick hearing was set at the request of defense attorneys who pushed to invoke their client's right to a speedy trial.
At that time, 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton is expected to hear testimony from multiple witnesses and decide whether there is enough probable cause to order Peterson, 37, to stand trial on 25 charges — including nine counts of forcible sexual abuse, seven counts of object rape, three counts of rape, and one each of aggravated kidnapping, forcible sodomy, burglary and sexual battery.
During Friday's brief hearing, Peterson appeared in a yellow Salt Lake County Jail jumpsuit and only spoke when Atherton asked him to verify for the record that he was present.
"It is moving fairly quickly," admitted deputy district attorney Thaddeus May about the case. But whether it was unusual for a case to proceed as quickly as it has, May couldn't say.
"This case, I think really just stands on its own. You can't really compare it to another case. It's a fairly unique case, I'll give you that," he said.
As prosecutors in Salt Lake County prepared for a preliminary hearing, additional charges are being considered in Wasatch County where Peterson owns a cabin that was the scene of a couple of his alleged attacks.
Since Peterson's arrest on July 18, three additional women have stepped forward claiming abuse, Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner told the Deseret News. As of Friday, at least two of those cases had been presented to the Wasatch County Attorney's Office to consider potential charges, he said.
Wasatch County Attorney Scott Sweat said Friday his office was still in the process of reviewing those cases.
Bonner said the new allegations are similar to those described by the four women Peterson is already charged with raping and kidnapping. The three new women have made allegations about incidents occurring at Peterson's cabin in Heber City, he said.
That same cabin was the site of an annual fundraising event for many high-profile GOP politicians. It is also where two of his four alleged victims claimed they were raped or sexually assaulted. One woman first reported the incident to Wasatch County authorities in March of 2011, resulting in Peterson's arrest on March 30, 2011. He remained in the Wasatch County Jail until April 6, 2011.
The Wasatch County Attorney's Office declined to file criminal charges in the case because of a lack of evidence. The woman then took her case to the Unified Police Department in Salt Lake County. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office said the combination of several women making similar allegations strengthened the case against Peterson and criminal charges were filed involving four women.
Prosecutors in Salt Lake County actually screened cases of five women who claimed they were attacked by Peterson, but they declined to file charges involving one woman because of a lack of evidence.
A civil stalking injunction was filed against Peterson by a woman on June 9. It was unknown Friday whether the woman was also one of the four victims represented in the charges.
Peterson's attorneys have repeatedly said their client is "100 percent" not guilty.
"We plan to vigorously defend this case," said defense attorney Cara Tangaro in a hearing earlier this week. "What he has told me and what he maintains is that nothing illegal has ever happened with any of these women."
Peterson remained in the Salt Lake County Jail Friday on $750,000 bail.