FARMINGTON — A Kaysville man faces 26 rape and other charges related to alleged assaults against a single victim over an eight-year period.
A probable cause statement by the Davis County Sheriff’s Office detailed alleged offenses by Jesse Paul Murff, 39, in Utah, Cache and Davis counties from 2004 to 2012.
The alleged victim was in a position of trust with Murff, according to the charging document. The female victim was 10 to 18 years old during the period of alleged abuse.
The Davis County Attorney’s Office filed a 26-count indictment against Murff on May 18 and he was arrested May 22.
He is held without bail in the Davis County Jail in Farmington, but his attorney, Steven K. Burton, has filed a motion challenging the charges as well as the justification for not granting bail.
The indictment accuses Murff of five counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, three counts of rape, four counts of object rape and six counts of forcible sodomy, all first-degree felonies.
Other charges against him include four counts of forcible sexual abuse, second-degree felonies; one count of dealing in materials harmful to a minor, a third-degree felony; and three lewdness counts, class A misdemeanors.
The charging affidavit, signed by sheriff’s detective Matthew Aguilar, said one alleged instance of abuse occurred when he picked up the alleged victim from summer camp, others when he was giving her driving lessons, and he once allegedly made her watch a pornographic video for “training.”
In the alleged incidents when the girl was 10-12 years old, Aguilar’s statement alleged that Murff “threatened (the girl) that he would slit her mother and brother’s throats with a knife in front of her, and then slit (her) throat, if she told anyone.”
Burton, in his motion filed with 2nd District Judge Robert Dale, said, “There is substantial exculpatory evidence which raises significant doubts as to the truthfulness of the state’s case.”
The defense attorney said the alleged victim’s “description of what happened has changed many times since she first made claims against defendant. Also, in 2018, the alleged victim admitted to the defendant that she has fabricated claims against him because of her unstable mental state.”
She also recanted allegations given to one person involved in the case, Burton contended.
Burton argued as well that the alleged threat to the victim, made 14 to 16 years ago, does not justify an order today to hold Murff without bail. He asked Dale to set bail at $25,000.
When the court signed a no-bail arrest warrant, “the state failed to make the court aware of several critical pieces of information that were necessary for the court to make an informed decision,” Burton’s motion said.
“First and foremost is the fact that since the time the threat was allegedly made, defendant was aware of at least three previous occasions when she communicated her accusations to others,” Burton wrote.
All three times, Murff was made aware of the accusations against him, Burton said, adding, “the alleged threat made 14-16 years ago was not realized on any of these occasions. There has been no evidence of any part of that threat being realized.”
Under those circumstances, Murff should have been allowed to be served with a summons with a promise to appear in court, Burton argued.
He said Murff “is presumed innocent, and keeping him incarcerated will significantly impact his ability to participate in his own defense and to pay for representation throughout the case. If he is incarcerated, it will directly affect his ability to hire counsel of his choice and pay for any potential expert witnesses or investigators.”
Murff was expected to have his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.