Primary Teacher will Appeal Denial of Venue Change

Primary Teacher will Appeal Denial of Venue Change

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LAYTON, Utah (AP) -- A Primary teacher accused of sexually abusing children will appeal a judge's ruling denying a change of venue.

As a result, the trial for Aaron Marcos Montoya has been postponed pending the appeal.

Montoya, 33, of Syracuse is charged with 10 counts of first-degree felony aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Four counts stem from alleged incidents that occurred while Montoya taught a Primary class in December 2004 for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He appeared in Layton's 2nd District Court on Wednesday for a motion hearing.

Trial was to begin Monday, but Judge Thomas L. Kay postponed it pending the appellate decision. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, it could be months before a decision.

If the high court refuses to hear the case, a trial will be set within a month, Kay said.

"This case has moved at lightning speed. It has moved remarkably fast compared to other cases of this type," Kay said to the families of the girls Montoya is accused of abusing.

Montoya, who was arrested in December, pleaded innocent to the charges in February.

In denying the motion to move the trial to another county, Kay said the defense provided no evidence that the publicity in the case was greater than other high-profile Davis County cases.

Kay said there also were no editorials or inflammatory articles submitted by the defense as evidence that showed a bias in the community.

Defense attorney Ed Brass said his client would not get a fair trial in Davis County because Montoya is accused of fondling young girls, he is of Hispanic descent, he is a member of the Mormon church and he is a former law enforcement officer.

"(Montoya's) standing in the community right now is less than zero," Brass said.

Kay granted a motion to sever two Weber County charges from the eight Davis County charges. Rawlings said those two charges stem from allegations that Montoya molested two girls at Pineview Reservoir. Those charges will be sent to Weber County for prosecution.

Kay also severed four of the other charges from the rest, saying they should be tried separately. Four of the charges, which involve three girls ages 5 and 6 who were in Montoya's Primary class, will be tried together.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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