Sentencing postponed for former Utah State student guilty of attempted rape

Posted at 6:15 PM, Mar 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-29 20:15:03-04

LOGAN, Utah - A former Utah State University student will have to wait at least two more weeks to hear his punishment for sexually assaulting two women.

Twenty-seven-year-old Jason Relopez pleaded guilty in February to attempted rape and forcible sexual assault.

Prosecutors halted Tuesday’s hearing bringing up concerns about Relopez’ psychosexual evaluation, saying key aspects of the test to determine Relopez’ chance of re-offending are missing.

That evaluation played a key role in a plea agreement with prosecutors.

“The evaluation is very significant in this case,” said Cache County deputy attorney Barbara Lachmar. “The outcome determines what our recommendation will be for Mr. Relopez.”

The doctor who performed the evaluation determined Relopez has a “low-moderate” chance of re-offending. Under the original plea agreement, that would have led to a sentencing recommendation of one year in prison and commitment to a rehabilitation program.

But Lachmar argued if the court accepted the evaluation, they may not be getting an accurate picture, and urged the judge to have the missing portion re-evaluated.

“It is a delay and that is hard for everyone,” Lachmar said. “But we want the best information that we can get to make the fairest decision we can make.”

Defense attorney Shannon Demler argued the evaluation’s findings are accurate, and that doing them over would be going back on that plea agreement.

“We expected it to come back low risk,” Demler said. “But we expected them to follow the deal once it does and they’re trying to back out of it.”

First District Judge Brian Cannell agreed some sections of Relopez’ evaluation were vague. Cannell read from the evaluation in court, which said the PPG portion of the test exhibited “invalid” responses, and couldn’t be relied upon.

Cannell did not order a re-evaluation, but did agree to an evidentiary hearing, that would bring in the evaluator to testify on his findings and clarity the results. Demler said it’s unnecessarily delaying the case.

“Mr. Relopez didn’t react to any of their scenarios they gave to him, which is totally appropriate,” Demler said. “Now they’re saying because he didn’t react, you can’t use that in our analysis, but I think the doctor is going to come in here and testify that even though he didn’t react, he’s still low risk.”

That evidentiary hearing has been scheduled for April 13. At that time the judge will decide when sentencing will take place.