Gag Order Requested In Sexual Assault Trial

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The attorney for a Payson man charged with the sexual assault of a developmentally disabled woman has asked Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill to prohibit attorneys, law enforcement officers and witnesses from talking to the press.

Harlan Green filed the request for the gag order this week on behalf of the former owner and operator of the Samarripas Center, a business that provides day care for developmentally disabled children and adults.

The 52-year-old defendant was charged in July with sexual assault, sexual abuse and child/vulnerable adult abuse.

Green's motion for a protective order regarding all pre-trial publicity said that the Roundup coverage of the case has harmed the defendant's family and their business, which is their only means of support.

The motion states:

"The issues involved in this case are of a very sensitive nature involving an adult protected person and a local business that works with physically and mentally challenged persons in the community of Payson that has been and will continue to be harmed by the further release of any and all information and opinions relating to the case in chief."

Attorney Daniel Barr of Brown & Bain is representing the Roundup in opposing the motion by Green, and has filed a separate motion urging Judge Peter Cahill to deny the gag order.

This motion states:

"To issue a gag order, this Court must find that ... the dissemination of information poses a ‘clear and present danger to the administration of justice ...' such a ‘clear and present danger' cannot be found unless the potential publicity ‘threatens to prejudice an entire community so that twelve unbiased jurors cannot be found.'"

The motion to intervene filed by Roundup attorneys also states that issuing a gag order is unnecessary since attorneys for both parties are bound by ethical rules that prohibit them from making statements that could prejudice a judicial proceeding.

The Roundup also follows newspaper policy regarding sexual assault cases. The paper does not print the names of victims nor does it generally print the names of defendants in sex-related cases until there is a conviction.

A hearing on Green's motion for a protective order regarding pre-trial publicity has not been scheduled.

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