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Utah man accused of date raping 4 women found dead of apparent suicide

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 1:31 AM EDT, Wed October 24, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: His attorney says she was "completely 100% shocked by the news"
  • Gregory Peterson was charged with 25 counts of sexual crimes
  • Four women allege he assaulted them
  • Peterson was found dead in his Utah cabin

(CNN) -- Four separate times, prosecutors say, Gregory Peterson lured women under the pretext of a movie or lunch -- and sexually assaulted them.

He kept one captive in his mother's house for several days, they said

He threatened to report another, whose visa had expired, for deportation, charging documents alleged.

And in each case, authorities said, he forced the women to engage in sex acts by pointing to guns he possessed.

For those alleged crimes, Peterson was awaiting trial on more than two dozen charges.

But the criminal case ended Tuesday when the Utah man -- who'd bailed out of jail just four days earlier -- was found in his cabin, dead of an apparent suicide.

"This has been a tragedy of a case from the beginning," said Wasatch County Attorney Scott Sweat.

A bail bondsman found Peterson in his Wasatch County cabin Tuesday evening while checking on him because his ankle monitor signal was getting weak, Sheriff Todd Bonner said.

It's unclear whether he left a note, Bonner said.

Deputies noticed "activity" with his monitor early in the afternoon as Peterson walked around outside his cabin, Bonner said. Peterson had a number of weapons inside his home, he added.

Cara Tangaro, one of two lawyers representing Peterson, said she was "completely 100% shocked by the news."

"If we thought he had been suicidal at all, we obviously would have taken that into account, or tried to get him help, or talk him out of bailing out," she said early Wednesday morning.

"We actually felt we had a trial-able case," she added. "We were very much looking forward to getting his side of the story out there and having our day in court."

The Salt Lake County district attorney charged Peterson, 37, in July with a range of crimes including rape, assault, and forcible sexual abuse against the four women. After spending three months in jail, he was released Friday on a $2 million bail.

The women detailed the alleged sexual abuse in a July charging document.

The first woman, identified only as S.M., described meeting Peterson at a church event in March 2011 and agreeing to go to a movie with him. Instead of going to the theater, she said, he drove her to his cabin, assaulting her both on the drive and during the night.

The woman said she was scared because there were weapons both in the car and in his cabin. Peterson drove her back to her car the next morning, she said.

The other women said they met Peterson online.

One said Peterson asked her to dinner in July 2011 but instead drove her to his cabin, sexually assaulting her on the way and through the night. She said he talked about her expired visa and threatened to deport her.

Peterson then drove her to his mother's house and kept her there for three days before driving her home and assaulting her again, she said.

The other assaults allegedly occurred at the women's homes in December 2011 and last April when he arrived to take them to lunch, they said.

"He maintained his innocence to us from Day 1 and never wavered from that," Tangaro, his attorney said.

Asked whether the apparent suicide indicates Peterson was guilty of the crimes, Sweat -- the Wasatch County attorney -- said: "I think everyone's going to have to make up their minds on that."

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