Former pastor pleads guilty to sexually abusing children
On Tuesday, the former pastor of a Helper church pleaded guilty to sexually victimizing children.
Rene Anthony Gomez appeared in the custody of the Carbon County Sheriff's Office at arraignment in the felony level criminal complaint on Sept. 3.
Judge Bryce K. Bryner presided on the 7th District Court bench and Carbon County Attorney Gene Strate acted on behalf of the state prosecutor's office. Public defender David Allred represented the 32-year-old East Carbon resident at the criminal proceeding.
Pursuant to a negotiated resolution arrangement, Gomez waived all constitutional rights in the felony level case and the former pastor pleaded guilty on Tuesday to nine separate first degree counts - eight sodomy on a child charges and one aggravated sexual abuse of a child offense.
The court reviewed Gomez' legal rights and advised the defendant regarding the penalties imposable on the first degree felony counts before accepting the former pastor's guilty pleas on the nine first degree counts.
Judge Bryner directed the Utah Department of Corrections to conduct a presentence investigation in the matter and submit recommendations to the court before tentatively scheduling pronouncement of judgment in Gomez' first degree felony criminal convictions on Nov. 7.
In exchange for the defendant's nine guilty pleas, Judge Bryner granted a joint prosecution defense motion and dismissed the 11 remaining first degree counts contained in the felony level complaint filed against the former pastor.
At the conclusion of the Sept. 3 felony arraignment proceeding, Judge Bryner remanded the defendant back into the custody of the Carbon County Jail.
Law enforcement authorities arrested the former pastor on June 28 and, at Gomez' initial court appearance on July 26, Judge Bryner ordered the defendant detained at the county jail without bail.
On Aug. 7, the East Carbon resident waived the right to a preliminary hearing in the criminal complaint and the district court ordered the former pastor bound over to answer 20 first degree counts at felony arraignment.
Dated July 23, the original criminal information contended that Gomez committed the first degree offenses against multiple victims from October 2000 through June 2002.
The complaint charged the former pastor with eight first degree aggravated sexual abuse of a child counts along with 12 sodomy on a child felony level offenses.
The felony level criminal case identified the alleged victims as children younger than the age of 14 years old.
In connection with the aggravated abuse charges, the criminal information argued that the defendant occupied a position of special trust when the former pastor allegedly took indecent liberties not amounting to rape or caused the children to engage in acts designed to arouse or gratify sexual desires.
Due to the fact that the aggravated sexual abuse and sodomy charges involved several minors, the felony level complaint identified the alleged victims by initials rather than listing the names of the children.
The maximum penalties the district court may impose in first degree felony sodomy on a child criminal convictions include fines of up to $10,000 along with indeterminate six-year, 10-year or 15-year to life sentences in the Utah State Prison.
Penalties imposable in first degree felony level aggravated sexual abuse of a child convictions include monetary assessments of up to $10,000 and indeterminate five-year to life incarceration periods in the state prison.
Pursuant to Utah's criminal statutes, accused offenders convicted of committing first degree felony level sodomy and/or aggravated sexual abuse of a child charges face mandatory imprisonment.