GOP activist denies allegations of sexual assaults in Wasatch and Cache counties

SALT LAKE CITY — A Republican Party activist denies allegations of sexual assault from four women and maintains they are trying to victimize him, his lawyer said Friday.

Gregory Nathan Peterson was jailed Wednesday on 23 rape and other charges and is due in 3rd District Court on Monday.

The charges filed by Salt Lake County’s chief prosecutor included alleged assaults that took place outside of his jurisdiction, and Peterson’s lawyer maintains that other prosecutors who fielded complaints from two of the women declined to file any charges.

“They declined to prosecute for lack of evidence — and there’s a reason for that,” attorney Gerald Salcido said Friday. “That lack of evidence will be coming out.”

Prosecutors in Wasatch and Cache counties said they agreed to let Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill take over the case. The charges against Peterson were based on assaults alleged to have occurred over the past year in all three counties.

However, Wasatch County Attorney Scott Sweat confirmed Friday that he rejected a complaint from one of the women who said she was assaulted at Peterson’s cabin outside of Heber.

“We did review one case, and at the time we had information only about one case,” Sweat told The Associated Press. “We didn’t believe it was a case we could prosecute.”

He declined to elaborate on his reasons, saying he didn’t want to “make any statements” that Gill “may not agree with.”

Gill didn’t return a phone message Friday from The Associated Press.

Cache County Attorney James Swink told the AP that before he could reach a decision on filing charges for an assault alleged to have been committed by Peterson in his county, he agreed to let Gill take over the entire case.

“It appears the events started in Salt Lake County and ended here,” Swink said Friday. “In fact, Salt Lake County contacted our office before filing charges and asked if they could take that case, and we agreed to it. We never decided not to file charges. We hadn’t reviewed the whole case, quite frankly.”

Peterson, 37, of Orem, will plead not guilty, his lawyer said. He was charged with rape, kidnapping, sexual abuse, assault, sexual battery and burglary over complaints by the four women. Convictions on all charges could carry a potential life sentence.

“He maintains that he’s innocent, and in the coming weeks there will be a lot of evidence that changes the story and shows what it is these women have been doing to him,” Salcido said.

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