Home Government County Rare Morgan County jury trial begins

Rare Morgan County jury trial begins


In a rare Morgan County jury trial, a convicted sex offender personally questioned and cross-examined two of his alleged teenage victims while representing himself in Second District Court.
Scott Logan Gollaher, 56, has been incarcerated for three years awaiting trial, which began Friday, Jan. 8, after jury selection stretched on for two days prior.
Gollaher previously served a 16-year sentence, from 1996 to 2011, for child sexual abuse. Upon his release, he was a registered sex offender in Salt Lake County.
In the summer of 2012, Gollaher allegedly abused two 11-year-old girls at a home he was building on over 24 acres in Morgan County at 246 East Woods Creek Road. Gollaher referred to the property as “Woods Creek Ranch” throughout the trial.
Since he did not yet reside in the home in 2012—only recreated there on the weekends—he was not registered in Morgan County as a sex offender. Both girls were not residents of Morgan County.
In connection with the alleged events in Morgan County, he was charged with four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Each charge carries the possibility of a five-years-to-life sentence as well as a $20,000 fine.
Gollaher previously plead not guilty to the four charges, leaving the burden of proof on the state. Public defender Martin V Gravis is acting as Gollaher’s stand-by council. Dean Saunders, a chief deputy with Weber County Attorney’s criminal division, is assisting Morgan County Attorney Jann Farris with the case that is expected to last 13 days.
Day 1
In opening arguments Friday, Jan. 8, state prosecutor Dean Saunders said the jury will hear from some of Gollaher’s alleged victims during the case. He said Gollaher made two of them feel “very uncomfortable,” and admonished them that “what happens here, stays here. We don’t want anyone to get in trouble for having so much fun.”
Saunders detailed interaction with the girls including a hypnotizing game that involved back bends, spanking game, fourwheel rides and swimming in a pond. The girls shared these details with a Morgan County detective during a recorded interview at the Children’s Justice Center in Ogden. Morgan County filed charges on July 2, 2012, after an investigation, “and charges have been pending ever since,” Saunders said.
Saunders said that touching a child over the clothing is sufficient to find Gollaher guilty, especially when it causes substantial emotional or bodily pain, or done with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.
The charges are aggravated, Saunders explained to the jury, because of incidents that happened to two or more individuals at the same time. Cousins O.P. and A.M. were visiting Gollaher’s Morgan house when he allegedly touched them inappropriately at the same time.
Saunders also prepared the jury to hear from another of Gollaher’s victims: Sarah Call Heaton, who was 11 years old in 1993 when Gollaher touched her inappropriately. A jury found Gollaher guilty of the crime. Saunders noted that Gollaher “took the same tact in that case that he is taking in this one. He denied it, and required her to come in and testify for his own pleasure.”
Gollaher objected to the statement about his pleasure, and Judge Noel Hyde informed the jury that opening statements are not evidence.
Saunders said the prior victim’s testimony would be used to assist the jury “to determine the defendant’s intent, to show his propensity of doing this. Fortunately, the victims did not heed his request (to keep quiet), and they will testify. We ask you to return four counts of guilty,” he told the jury.
Gollaher did not make an opening statement, reserving his until later on in the trial.
The first day of the trial, the state called two 15-year-old alleged victims to testify on the stand. Both had been 11 years old when the incidents leading to the charges occurred. Farris questioned both, while their accused abuser personally cross-examined them. Both girls spoke quietly, causing jury members to complain about not hearing their testimonies. Both avoided looking Gollaher in the eye while testifying.
One of the cousins, an Idaho resident, detailed how she had been invited to spend the day with her cousins in Utah after school had dismissed for the summer. She went along with them when they visited Gollaher’s Morgan house. She helped sweep floors at Gollaher’s “mansion,” which was still under construction.
“We swept and afterwards, I remember how proud he was of us for helping,” O.P. said, usually referring to Gollaher as “the defendant.” “The house was big. We spent a lot of time in this room with bunk beds.”
O.P. said that after a fourwheel ride to a pond, she was hesitant to walk on stickers with her bare feet. Gollaher offered to carry her over the stickers, and did so inappropriately.
O.P testified that Gollaher’s wife, Sharon did not accompany the group of children on their fourwheel ride to a pond and later a spring.
“He told me not to tell my parents how much fun I had there, but just to ask if I could go there again,” O.P. said. “He tapped me on the nose before I left. When he taps our noses, we feel better.”
At many points in O.P.’s hour-long questioning, Gollaher praised her for her testimony, telling her she was doing a good job and that it was O.K. to forget details from over three years back.
“If I was your age, I would not want to be in court testifying,” Gollaher told O.P. “This is not like a test you could fail. You are doing an excellent job. You are helping the jury understand. I appreciate you. Thank you for your time today.”
O.P. said her cousin “mentioned that the defendant was a member of the Mormon church. He was excommunicated and was re-baptized….He went to jail for touching a girl. That made me uncomfortable. When she mentioned he was re-baptized, it made me feel better.”
However, when she first met Gollaher, O.P. remembers another feeling. “I was a little intimidated by Scott when I met him.”
When Gollaher asked if she had fun at his house that day, O.P. shook her head, avoided eye contact and said “no. I had fun with my cousins when we were alone in the bunk house, (but) I did not have fun that day.”
“I did not tell my mom I had fun. I told her about my whole experience and that I didn’t want to go back,” O.P. said on the stand. “I felt uncomfortable. I knew the defendant touching me was wrong.”
A.M., from Weber County, is O.P.’s cousin who also took to the witness stand that first day. She had visited the “mansion” in Morgan with another cousin weeks before she was there a second time with O.P.
A.M.’s cousin from Davis County had already been to the “mansion” before. She “told me about Scott and Sharon and the mansion, how cool and big the house was. She told me at some point that Scott had been to jail for touching,” A.M. said.
After arriving that day, A.M. played a “spanking” game with Gollaher. She said she had loose pants on that day and that Gollaher had commented on the color of her underwear.
She also recalled riding on a fourwheeler to a pond. “We took off our shirts and pants and jumped into the water in the pond,” A.M. said. “Scott suggested we take off our shirts and pants. I noticed Scott had his phone out and I thought he was taking pictures of me. After that coming home on the fourwheeler, I was wet and kind of cold. He said body heat is the best way to get warm.”
“He said he would like me to come up again,” A.M. said. “He said, ‘What happens here, stays here.’”
A.M. did come a second time, this time with cousin O.P. During that visit, both cousins sat on Gollaher’s lap at the same time. They also played a hypnotizing game and went on a fourwheel ride to the pond.
At one point during that visit, the cousins spoke to each other while going to the bathroom together.
O.P. “told me she was not feeling comfortable here and we didn’t know what to do,” A.M. said. “We both came out like we were fine.”
But later that day, when the girls were returned home and A.M.’s mother was chatting with Gollaher, “I told my mom about the hypnotizing game, and (Gollaher) was getting mad I was telling my mom. I could tell from his face.”
Both alleged victims said they had forgotten many of the details of their time at Gollaher’s “mansion,” but that their memories were better the day they had their interviews at the CJC with an investigator three years earlier.
“I still remember the things that were really uncomfortable,” A.M. said.
Day 2
A portion of the second day was spent on administrative matters including Gollaher filing affidavits in an attempt to issue more subpoenas for his witness list. Gollaher, who has been transported from a Salt Lake jail each day of his Morgan County trial, seldom has access to a computer, paper or pencil. As such, he has been preparing handwritten affidavits after arriving in Morgan County prior to court.
Gollaher asked that subpoenas be issued for five minor witnesses, including his own 14-year-old foster daughter.
Judge Noel Hyde agreed to issue subpoenas to two of the minors, including one Morgan youth. Hyde hesitated to issue a subpoena to another minor until the court can determine if she is listed as a witness or an alleged victim in a separate Salt Lake County case.
He also denied issuing subpoenas for six adults. However, he did agree to issue a subpoena for one adult who may have been present at the Morgan property when the alleged incidents occurred, as well as one for the grandfather of an alleged victim.
Hyde also asked to be given time to consider if video and audio files recorded three years prior at the CJC of the two alleged victims would be admitted as evidence for the jury’s review.
Only one witness took to the stand Monday during the trial’s second day.
In 1996, a jury found Gallaher guilty of sexually abusing Sarah Call Heaton. Heaton took the stand surrounded by family members including her husband in the gallery.
Heaton’s father was Gollaher’s best friend. She testified that the two families interacted regularly together.
“I have known him since I was born,” Heaton said.
On the day in question, Gollaher had asked Heaton to sleep over at his house to help babysit his younger son, since his mom was at young women’s camp. Gollaher, his son and Heaton were laying on a trampoline when the son fell asleep. Gollaher asked Heaton if she would like to get in the hot tub.
“He playfully picked me up and threw me in,” Heaton recalled.
She said Gollaher stayed outside the hot tub talking with her for 10 to 15 minutes. When she got out, he suggested he hang her wet clothing on a railing and get her a new shirt to wear. She said the two returned to the trampoline to sleep, and she later unexpectedly woke up.
While Heaton testified Monday that an indecent touch lasted 10 to 15 minutes, Gollaher pointed out that previous transcripts and testimony had Heaton timing the touch to several seconds.
“I tried to wiggle around to make him stop, and pretended to be asleep,” Heaton said. “I was terrified and didn’t know what was happening. I instantly knew he was a bad guy. I wanted to go home. He was my dad’s best friend. I didn’t think anyone would believe me. I didn’t tell anyone.”
About six months later, after watching a “Dateline type show” about a young girl who had been molested by her godfather, Heaton told her parents about the incident with Gollaher.
“I (now) had a word for what happened,” Heaton said. “I felt guilty. That night I told my mom, and my mom called the police. I went to the CJC and had my interview. We went to trial. He was charged for sexual abuse of a minor. I had to testify at the trial. He was found guilty. (It was) trial by jury.”
Upon cross examination, Gollaher asked if Heaton recalled saying the incident may have happened in a dream.
“Yes, I remember saying I hoped it was dream,” Heaton said with a grimace as Gollaher turned away while cross-examining her. “I was sure it was not a dream.”
“I appreciate you testifying,” Gollaher told Heaton.
Despite his denial of the abuse during the trial, Heaton testified that Gollaher later admitted to the crime, most notably in a City Weekly newspaper article dated Feb. 24, 2010. Although Gollaher objected, the prosecution moved to have the article admitted as evidence to be published to the jury. Judge Hyde agreed after redacting a majority of the article. However, he did keep the portion that read:
“Although he initially denied the charge, Gollaher is forthcoming about it now. ‘I lied,’ he says, close to tears. ‘This child did not lie.’”
Day 3
Former Morgan police detective William Wentland was the only witness on the stand in the third day of Scott Logan Gollaher’s jury trial Wednesday.
Wentland detailed his law enforcement career, including 20 years with the South Ogden Police Department and over three years as lead detective in the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office. In that time, he had 100 hours of training specific to interviewing child victims. He put the training to use over his career when actually conducting at least eight interviews with minors, most often at the Children’s Justice Center in Ogden.
“I only remember one interview where charges weren’t filed,” Wentland told Gollaher during cross examination.
Wentland said in June of 2012, he conducted interviews of three minor girls and two adults—parents of one of the victims—connected to the Morgan incident. He chose not to conduct interviews with two minor males that may have been present at Gollaher’s home on the days in question because “they were 9 years old at the time” and “had not noticed anything at all.”
The jury was able to view a one-minute video clip of A.M. and O.P.’s initial CJC interview with Wentland three years ago when they were both 11. One interview took place two days after the alleged victim had visited Gollaher’s Morgan home. The other interview was conducted five days after the alleged victim had visited.
To the disappointment of the prosecution, the judge denied letting the jury see more than one-minute clips of the CJC interviews. Prosecutors hoped even the one-minute clips would be helpful in showing the jury what the alleged victims looked and acted like at the time charges were filed against Gollaher, prosecutor Dean Saunders said.
“My perception is her memory was quite a bit better when she gave the interview” compared to her testimony on the Morgan stand three years later, Wentland said of A.M. She “provided a very detailed description of the property.”
After Wentland’s testimony, the state rested its case, marking an end to the witnesses the prosecution plans to call.
The defendant, however, hasn’t even started yet. His proposed witness list is much longer than the state’s. Gollaher has asked that subpoenas be served on several out-of-state witnesses, which Judge Noel Hyde stopped short of guaranteeing.
“This court does not have authority to compel witnesses outside the state of Utah,” Hyde said.
Hyde encouraged Gollaher to consult with Gravis, his stand-by counsel, to properly serve the subpoenas. The court will be in recess for a week until Wednesday, Jan. 20, to allow subpoenas to be served and Gollaher’s witnesses to appear in court.
State prosecutors were worried the seven-day break may prejudice the jury because they would forget the case the state had laid out over the last three days.
But Gollaher said he couldn’t formulate and deliver his opening statements without knowing which of his witnesses would be prepared to take the stand.
“I have been severely limited as far as witnesses,” Gollaher told the judge Wednesday. “I want to go forward, but I want the right to call my witnesses.”
Judge Hyde allowed for a continuance so witnesses could be collected, but pointed out that with or without the continuance, the trial was scheduled to be completed by Jan. 29.
“This will shorten the time available to the defense, but at the request of the defendant,” Hyde said.

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