High school students in Gunnison submit ‘denial,’ or ‘not guilty’ pleas for multiple sexual assault charges

SANPETE COUNTY, Utah -- Three juveniles submitted denials, the equivalent of not guilty pleas in adult court, after multiple charges of sexual abuse against both male and female alleged victims were filed against them in Sanpete County.

One of the boys has been charged with six counts of object rape and five counts of forcible sex abuse, Wes Mangum, the Deputy County Attorney for Sanpete County, said.

A mother told Fox 13 that her son was a victim in one instance of abuse, which took place following a football practice.

“Two boys held him down, a third boy pulled his own pants down and rubbed his backside and genitalia all over my son’s face,” the mother said.

The juveniles were brought before a judge Tuesday for an arraignment, where formal charges were brought against them.

All three defendants, two of them who are brothers, entered a "denial," which sets up a second hearing. This denial plea gives the lawyers of the juveniles time for what is called "discovery," so they can get copies of police reports and interviews that were conducted by police. A denial is an equivalent to a "not guilty" plea in adult court.

According to Mangum, the possibility of the juveniles being tried as adults has not yet been ruled out.

Mangum said there were "numerous" victims in the case, which started with nine people coming forward as alleged victims. Additional charges may be filed against the juveniles if other potential victims come forward and charges are screened.

There were both male and female alleged victims in the case, Mangum said. The number of female victims versus male victims were not immediately known.

"Given the fact that they are juveniles, jail time or prison is not likely, but there could be some type of confinement or removal from a home to a program," Mangum said.

Mangum said that the alleged victim's stories were "very similar." He said that some of the allegations took place during sporting events, but some of them did not.

Pretrial for the case is scheduled for November.