Man admits to sexually assaulting woman at Rexburg church
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REXBURG — A man accused of raping a woman inside a Rexburg church in 2018 reached a plea agreement with prosecutors on Monday.
Gary Jason Tauialo, 33, pleaded guilty to felony battery with the intent to commit a serious felony (rape) and misdemeanor sexual battery, according to a plea agreement filed Monday. Tauialo could be sentenced to spend up to 20 years in prison for the felony charge.
Tauialo signed the plea agreement with Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood in exchange for having the charges amended from felony rape and felony forcible sexual penetration by the use of a foreign object. The plea agreement also stipulated prosecutors would not seek charges against Tauaialo for two additional potential victims.
On Jan. 12, 2018, the Rexburg Police Department received a rape kit of a woman. Two days later the victim came to the Rexburg Police Department to file a report of the sexual assault that she said occurred Jan. 11, 2018, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building on West 1st South, according to court documents.
The victim told police she met Tauialo through friends at church and was there to play volleyball. Tauialo reportedly told her because of his position as the ward clerk, he needed to lock up the doors of the church before they left. The victim went around the building with Tauialo to lock up the building, and that is when he assaulted her.
“She said that after they had checked on a door under a staircase, she was turning to walk away when Jason grabbed her by the waist, turned her around and started kissing her. She stated that Jason then pushed her against a wall and stuck his hands down her pants,” an affidavit of probable cause reads.
The sexual assault continued as the victim repeatedly told Tauialo no. Eventually, Tauialo led the victim into a room up the stairs and closed the door behind him. She told police that he then violently continued the sexual assault.
The victim told detectives Tauialo took her home, at which point she had a friend take her to the emergency room for a sexual assault examination.
Detectives spoke with Tauialo, who said it was the victim who initiated the kissing, but when pressed further, he asked for a lawyer. Police later gathered a DNA sample from Tauialo through a warrant and sent the sample to a state crime lab for testing.
On Dec. 12, 2018, the Idaho State Police contacted the Rexburg Police Department with results from the DNA swab. According to court documents, the DNA collected during the sexual assault examination is a statistically likely match to the DNA swab collected from Tauialo through the warrant.
A change of plea hearing for Tauialo is scheduled for June 25 at the Madison County Courthouse.