SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Tea party activist Gregory Peterson once hosted some of Utah's biggest Republican names at a barbecue at his Wasatch County cabin. Among them were U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, Gov. Gary Herbert and Mia Love, the up-and-coming mayor of Saratoga Springs who is locked in a dead heat to unseat six-term Congressman Jim Matheson.
Peterson was a regular at GOP functions as the creator of the Rocky Mountain Conservatives group. He held fundraisers and even organized a debate between two GOP candidates for Utah attorney general.
It all came crashing down in July, when he was charged with sexually assaulting women at the cabin. On Tuesday, he was found dead there in what authorities called an apparent suicide.
In August, four women from Salt Lake City and one from Wasatch County testified at a preliminary hearing that he had sexually assaulted them.
Some said they had met him on Mormon dating websites and at church functions.
Peterson was jailed after his arrest in July and held until posting $2 million bail on Oct. 19. He was due back in court on Nov. 2....
But just four days later, two bail bond agents were dispatched to the cabin to check on him because his ankle monitor was not responding. Wasatch County Chief Deputy Jared Rigby confirmed that Peterson was found with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.The article also quotes Peterson's former lawyer as saying that Peterson always maintained his innocence. Paraphrasing the mouthpiece, the article states that Peterson's "ties to the Republican Party seemed to fuel media coverage of his arrest," and that Peterson "worried he might not be able to overcome that coverage."
Perhaps the Utah courts are so full of defendants accused of raping five women in a period of months that only the Republican activist angle got the attention of the press. But I don't see the G.O.P. elevating Peterson to their crowded ranks of media martyrs.
(Thanks to Montag for the update tip.)