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Guilty plea remains intact in ’97 Halloween incident

SHARE Guilty plea remains intact in ’97 Halloween incident

A judge has refused to let John L. Jeppson withdraw a guilty plea to charges that he helped terrorize dozens of teenagers at a Logan Canyon retreat nearly a year ago.

In July, Arthur Peasnall, 22, Christopher Doerr, 20, and Jeppson, 51, pleaded guilty to reduced charges. The three men admitted to tying up and using guns to threaten 38 young adults who sneaked into the abandoned St. Anne's retreat in Logan Canyon in search of a Halloween scare.Peasnall and Doerr, both of Tooele, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted aggravated assault, a class A misdemeanor and were sentenced to 30 days in the Cache County Jail and 60 days in a diversionary program with work release being an option.

Jeppson pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault. As part of his plea bargain, a charge of forcible sexual abuse was dropped.

His attorney, Gregory Skordas, argued that he never received a videotape or transcript of the plea hearing and believes mistakes were made during the hearing.

But 1st District Judge Clinton Judkins said he had reviewed the tape and it showed Jeppson did agree to plead guilty. Jeppson is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 22 after a 90-day diagnostic evaluation which will be conducted at the Utah State Prison.

On Oct. 10, the 38 teens and young adults climbed around a barbed-wire fence surrounding the retreat.

Peasnall, Doerr and Jeppson had been hired to guard the former Catholic retreat and confronted the youths with guns, tied ropes around their necks, handcuffed others and forced them into an empty swimming pool.

The group claimed the men fired shotguns near them and threatened to kill them. One teenager claimed he was knocked unconscious and another 16-year-old girl claimed she was fondled by Jeppson.