LOGAN — A judge has refused to lift a protective order against Jose J. Mestre-Ortiz, a 31-year-old Nibley man accused of abusing a woman and her children earlier this year. The decision came after the alleged victim tearfully told the court how she and her family fear for their safety.
Mestre-Ortiz participated in a virtual hearing in 1st District Court Tuesday morning, appearing by web conference. He was arrested in March and later charged with three counts of child abuse, all second-degree felonies; aggravated assault and retaliation against a witness, both third-degree felonies; and two misdemeanors.
Defense attorney Malone Molgard asked the court to remove the protective order since the case has been delayed by COVID-19.
The alleged victim emotionally asked the court to leave the order in place. She said, she and her children are terrified of the suspect. One of her children is reportedly being tested to determine whether they have brain damage, from allegedly being choked by Mestre-Ortiz.
The woman said, “I don’t think the suspect realizes how much he hurt us.”
In March, Cache County Sheriff’s deputies began investigating Mestre-Ortiz after receiving a complaint from the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). The alleged victim disclosed a lengthy history of physical and verbal abuse to her and her children, occurring since 2007. She later provided a statement alleging numerous domestic violence incidents, including over 50 photographs of bruises and abrasions on both herself and her children.
The woman also told deputies how Mestre-Ortiz supposedly held her hostage and kept her from going to work. He took her car keys and cell phone and prevented her from leaving for more than a day.
Court records show, Mestre-Ortiz was released on pretrial supervision after posting $35,000 bail. He was arrested on similar offences in 2018 and later accepted a plea deal. He was ordered to serve four days in jail and 12 months probation.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Patrick Corum, who is temporarily filling a vacant seat on the bench, said he was not going to lift the protective order. He told attorneys to work out conditions of Mestre-Ortiz’s pretrial release, such as wearing an ankle monitor.
Mestre-Ortiz is scheduled to appear again in court Nov 9. He could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.