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Utah prosecutors dismiss decades-old sex assault case over evidence concerns

A case filed in 1997 was dismissed Jan. 10 due to evidentiary concerns. The man charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman was extradited from California in February 2022 and remained in custody until May.

A case filed in 1997 was dismissed Jan. 10 due to evidentiary concerns. The man charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman was extradited from California in February 2022 and remained in custody until May. (Yukai Peng, Deseret News)


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WEST JORDAN — Jaime Diaz Calderon was arrested in California in February on charges accusing him of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman in Salt Lake City 25 years ago.

But on Jan. 10, prosecutors dismissed the case against him, months after the alleged victim testified that she couldn't remember details from so long ago.

The arrest warrant was issued in June 1997 for aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated sexual assault, first-degree felonies; and robbery, a second-degree felony.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the case has now been dismissed "due to evidentiary concerns."

At Calderon's preliminary hearing on May 4, the woman who had initially accused him of assault testified that she did not remember the events she reported in 1997. She said she remembered an argument with Calderon, getting into his car and being scared, but did not remember whether he showed her a gun, where they went or an assault.

She also said while being questioned that she didn't remember telling officers in a more recent interview that nothing had happened, but agreed she told officers she did not want the prosecution to continue.

Another woman testified that the alleged victim told her in 1997 that she had an argument with Calderon at the Salt Lake City International Airport. She said she was told that Calderon pulled out a gun when he was asking the woman to get into his car, which she didn't want to do, and that Calderon then drove the woman to an apartment where he sexually assaulted her.

Calderon was held in custody in Utah from February 2022 until after that preliminary hearing on May 4, when 3rd District Judge Matthew Bates determined there was not enough evidence to hold him at the $250,000 bail and reduced bail to $10,000.

Bates said the DNA evidence from Calderon that matched DNA taken from the woman in 1997, plus her testimony were enough to order Calderon to stand trial, although he said a conviction would likely be difficult for a jury.

The case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning some of the charges could be filed again if those evidentiary concerns are resolved.

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Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.

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