Man convicted of sexually abusing 3 children is arrested for alleged probation violation

Stock image | Photo by Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — A Cedar City man whose light sentencing in a 2017 child sex abuse case sparked community outrage was arrested by Iron County Sheriff’s deputies Friday for allegedly violating his probation.

John Benjamin Gehrich, 20, violated terms of his probation as a sex offender while living in Indiana, Iron County Sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser told Cedar City News.

According to court records, Gehrich’s violation involved behaving in a suspicious manner around a group of children who were riding bicycles in their neighborhood. Gehrich allegedly asked the children where they lived and where they got their bikes.

“The children got nervous and afraid and ran off,” court documents state.

Gehrich’s probation stems from a September 2017 conviction for sexually assaulting three children between the ages of 3 and 8 in Cedar City.

John Benjamin Gehrich, booking photo posted in Iron County, Utah, July 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

According to court records, Gehrich inappropriately touched the three children, all siblings, when he was momentarily left alone with them while visiting a neighbor’s home.

The children subsequently told their parents and authorities what happened, leading to his arrest on three first-degree felony charges.

Gehrich told police it was an “impulsive act” on his part, court records state.

While Iron County prosecutors struck a deal with Gehrich that lowered the severity of the felonies and gave him a 15-year maximum prison term, the judge presiding over the case sentenced him to serve 210 days in the county jail followed by 36 months of probation.

Family members expressed outrage over the sentencing at the time, with an aunt of the children telling Cedar City News she “just about fell over” when she heard about it.

As a part of his probation, Gehrich was also allowed to return to Indiana where he would live with his parents. Due to the probation violation, Gehrich was sent back to Utah where the charges originated.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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