On Monday, a former South Summit Middle School teacher who was charged with four first-degree felony counts of the sexual abuse of a child appeared in Third District Court for the state's request to increase his bail from $20,000 to $150,000, which was denied.
Rory Bowen, 35, from Oakley, was initially charged in Summit County's Third District Court on April 10 with one count of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony. On May 1, three more of those same charges were added against Bowen, after which the State of Utah requested the court increase his bail to $150,000.
All four allegations involve accounts from girls at South Summit Middle School, where Bowen was a mathematics teacher, with each claiming that he had touched them inappropriately over their clothing between August 27, 2013, and March 21, 2014, according to court documents.
Bowen, who left the school in April, posted the $20,000 bail but, according to Third District Court Judge Todd Shaughnessy, that amount was set by the jail and not a judge or magistrate.
"For reasons that are utterly inexplicable to me, the [Summit County] Jail bailed him out without ever having any judge do a bail sentence," Shaughnessy said. "Candidly, I don't know why."
Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Joy Natale said the jail most likely set the bail based on the standard bail schedule for a first-degree felony. She defended the state's motion to increase the bail to $150,000, stating that a higher bail is more effective for protecting the community against Bowen.
Shaughnessy disagreed with Natale's argument, saying that a higher bail does not help to protect the community from a defendant.
"Increasing bail just means that people who are wealthier -- who may very well be very dangerous -- can bail out," Shaughnessy said. "Bail doesn't protect the community unless it's so high that it's impossible to bail that person out."
Bowen's attorney James Lewis said that Bowen's limited financial resources, which were the primary rationale for the objection to raising the bail amount, are an important factor.
"If he is unable to afford bail, he will be less able to participate in a defense, and he has fewer resources to mount a defense [from jail]," Lewis said. "We want the ability to debate this case on an even plane. It won't be if bail is increased to $150,000 and he has to stay in jail."
Lewis added that Bowen has attended all three court hearings thus far and has neither the inclination nor the resources to leave the area.
Shaughnessy said that, because of the seriousness of the four charges filed, he does not think the $150,000 bond set by the state is "unreasonable." He added he does not know why the jail decided to bail Bowen out before a judge got a chance to look at his warrant but is concerned that increasing bail would result in a forfeiture of the $20,000 he has already paid.
The decision passed down by Shaughnessy was for Bowen to turn in his passport, to wear a GPS ankle monitor and to have no contact with the victims either directly or indirectly. If he does not make his next scheduled court hearing, he will remain in custody for the duration of the case.
Bowen's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 16, at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Ryan Harris in Courtroom 2 of the Silver Summit Courthouse.