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SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST FACES TRIAL ON CHARGES OF SEXUAL ABUSE

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A former Davis County school psychologist will stand trial on three felony sexual abuse charges involving a 10-year-old girl who was staying with him in his Bountiful home.

At a preliminary hearing Tuesday, Donald R. Persson, 53, was ordered bound over to district court for trial. He was charged with rape of a child, sexual exploitation of a child, and dealing in harmful materials.At the hearing, the girl testified that Persson was a family friend she had known for four or five years in Long Beach, Calif.

She first came to visit Persson and his family in Bountiful in December, the girl testified, and then visited again in May when Pers-son's wife and two daughters were out of the country. The abuse began in June, she said.

Persson took photos of her, she said, identifying nine pictures in the hearing that showed her naked or partly clothed. An adult male is in some of the pictures, some of which depict sexual encounters.

The girl also testified that Persson showed her magazines depicting young girls having sexual contact with older men, saying Persson told her he wanted her to do that.

"He knew what he was doing," the girl testified, describing the sexual encounters with Persson.

Second Circuit Judge Roger Dutson cleared the courtroom of the public and news media to an adjacent room, from which the testimony could be heard.

Dutson ordered Persson to appear in district court on the three charges and dismissed a fourth one, sodomy upon a child.

Persson was arrested June 5 by Bountiful police after a contractor who came to the house to install window blinds reported the presence of the young girl and a stash of pornographic material.

He was suspended from his job as a psychologist, a job in which he worked with elementary students with learning and behavior disabilities in schools in Clinton, Sunset, Clearfield, and Layton.

School district officials said a check of his background, references and former employers did not raise suspicion.

Persson is free on $50,000 bail.

The child-rape charge, a first-degree felony, carries a possible sentence of life in prison. Sexual exploitation, a second-degree felony, carries a possible 15-year prison term. Dealing in pornographic material, a third-degree felony, carries a possible prison term of five years.