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Former pastor waives preliminary hearing

Sun Advocate editor

The former pastor of a Helper church charged with sexually victimizing children has waived the right to a preliminary hearing in the first degree felony level criminal complaint.

On Aug. 7, Rene Anthony Gomez appeared before the 7th District Court in the custody of the Carbon County Sheriff's Office.

Judge Bryce K. Bryner presided on the district 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 Gomez at the criminal proceeding.

The court originally scheduled Aug. 7 as the preliminary hearing date in the felony level criminal information.

After the defense waived the right to the hearing on Wednesday morning, Judge Bryner ordered the former pastor bound over to answer 20 separate first degree counts at felony arraignment in the complaint on Aug. 19.

At the conclusion of the court proceeding on Wednesday, the district judge remanded Gomez back into the custody of the Carbon County Jail.

Law enforcement authorities arrested the East Carbon resident on June 28 and the defendant has remained incarcerated in the county jail.

At Gomez' initial court appearance on July 26, Judge Bryner ordered the former pastor detained at the county corrections facility without bail.

Dated July 23, the formal criminal information contends that Gomez committed the 20 first degree offenses against multiple victims from October 2000 through June 2002.

The complaint charges the former pastor with eight first degree aggravated sexual abuse of a child counts along with 12 additional sodomy on a child felony level offenses.

The felony level case identifies the alleged victims as children younger than the age of 14 years old.

In connection with the eight aggravated abuse charges, the formal criminal information maintains that the defendant occupied a position of special trust when the former pastor purportedly took indecent liberties - not amounting to rape - with the children or caused the victims to engage in acts designed to arouse or gratify sexual desires.

The formal complaint contends that Gomez committed the following first degree felony level crimes against the youth:

•October 2000 - Five aggravated sexual abuse of a child counts and five sodomy on a child charges.

•November 2000 - Two aggravated sexual abuse of a child offenses and three sodomy on a child counts.

•July 2001 - One aggravated sexual abuse of a child charge.

•June 2002 - Four sodomy on a child offenses.

Since the aggravated sexual abuse and sodomy charges involve several minors, the felony level complaint identifies the alleged victims by initials rather than listing the names of the children.

When an accused offender appears at felony arraignment, the defendant generally enters guilty or not guilty pleas on the counts contained in the formal criminal information. In the event an accused offender pleads not guilty to the charges, the defendant has the right to a trial - to a jury or to the court.

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 code, accused offenders convicted of committing first degree felony level sodomy and/or aggravated sexual abuse of a child charges face mandatory imprisonment.

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