A Utah man tied to the state's Republican party has been arrested on charges that he raped four women.
Gregory Nathan Peterson, 37, was booked Wednesday on 23 felony counts, including rape and kidnapping. Two of the alleged victims claim the incidents took place at Peterson's cabin, where he has hosted a number of fundraisers featuring Utah's most prominent politicians. Peterson's bail has been set at $750,000.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports:
Charging documents allege sexual assaults against four women in Salt Lake County beginning March 26, 2011. In the first case, the documents allege, Peterson met a woman at a church function and she agreed to go to a movie with him.
But instead of going to a theater, the papers allege, Peterson told the woman he had a gun and took her to his cabin in Heber. The documents allege he sexually assaulted the woman while she said no and hit her when she did not do as he wished. Peterson drove the woman back to her vehicle the next morning.
Another case involves a woman who claims she and Peterson met on an online dating site. Utah's KSL reports:
Peterson allegedly held the girl hostage at his cabin overnight and sexually assaulted her. The next day, he took her to his mother's house in Lewiston, Cache County, where she was held hostage for two days and repeatedly assaulted, according to court documents.
Two other women allege that Peterson sexually assaulted them at their residences following dates coordinated online.
The rape and kidnapping charges are first-degree felonies that could carry life sentences.
According to the Tribune, Peterson has held an annual Rocky Mountain Conservatives Convention and BBQ for the past few years at the cabin where two of the incidents allegedly took place.
Utah political blogger Michael Jolley reports that the 2011 event was well-attended by political luminaries from around the Beehive State. GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz, GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, as well Republican Gov. Gary Herbert all made speeches at the gathering.
UPDATE -- 5:00 PM:
Talking Points Memo dug into Peterson's Facebook page and discovered that his profile picture features him standing beside presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Another of Peterson's photos displays an invitation to a Romney fundraiser that he co-chaired back during the Republican's 2008 campaign for president.