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News » Cover Story

No Apologies

Victim of the state or child predator, Scott Gollaher’s judgment day is looming

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A Perfect Family

According to prosecutor Farris, the origins of Gollaher's current slew of charges go back to his befriending "a distressed single mother," Marie Maxfield, in late 2011, and taking on almost a parenting role for both the mother and her troubled daughter. The Gollahers "became surrogate parents," Farris says.

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In summer 2014, Maxfield gave multiple interviews to City Weekly. She recalled that Gollaher told her he suspected her daughter was being abused by another man. Gollaher said he was a self-taught specialist in child sexual abuse. He introduced Maxfield to families he worked with, including one Latina child, whose father was in prison for abusing her. "He said he had worked with many families and children of abuse, to help get their family together and on the right track," she says. Gollaher denies presenting himself as an "expert" in child sexual abuse, but says he tried to help Maxfield and her daughter.

That help included introducing Maxfield to a therapist close to Gollaher and also advocating for her with Maxfield's LDS bishop. "He positioned himself almost like a missionary, he and his wife under this self-appointed ... mission to strengthen families and especially little girls who were victims of abuse," the bishop recalled during a 2013 Morgan County court hearing.

Even Maxfield's bishop and his wife came to trust the Gollahers to "the point they agreed to have their daughters come up to play" unaccompanied by their parents, at the Gollaher's sprawling Morgan weekend retreat, Farris says.

Maxfield says the Gollahers served as parental figures for her and grandparents for her children. "It was everything I had always wanted in a family situation," she says.

Gollaher took Maxfield's daughter to a daddy-daughter dance at the ward house and, afterward, Maxfield recalls, told her about how "Scotty"—shifting to the third person—had been in jail for a while, although "Scotty didn't really do anything wrong." He told her it was an accidental "two-second touch on a trampoline."

Gollaher says, to this day, he loves Maxfield—"as much as I understand about love." While he says he will "burn her" if she lies on the stand, "I desire no harm to [Maxfield and her daughter] at all. They've been drug through the fucking gutter to try to be used to harm me," in support of his prosecution, he says.

Bubble Bath

Two girls from different families who were related to the bishop and his wife visited Gollaher's Morgan County ranch on two separate Saturdays in mid-2012. They complained to their parents about him allegedly touching them. Their parents filed complaints with the Morgan County Sheriff's Office and, late in May 2012, Gollaher was charged with four counts of aggravated sexual abuse.

Despite his arrest and his brief stay in jail and a visit from DCFS instructing Maxfield, she says, to keep her children with relatives when she had to work—the Child Protective Services worker declined to answer her questions about whether Gollaher was acceptable—she nevertheless continued to trust a couple she had come to view as almost part of her family. "All I saw was this great stuff coming from Scott. My kids were getting better, the school saw things were getting better. Why would you think there was anything wrong?" She asked the Gollahers to care for her daughter while she attended a funeral in Delta, Utah.

When Maxfield returned from Delta, she found out FBI agent Ross had arrested Gollaher on July 13 and that her daughter had been taken into foster care.

She was charged with child endangerment, pleaded no contest and, after multiple supervised visits over a year-long period, she and her daughter were reunited. They now live in California, and Maxfield says her daughter is a bright and happy teen—until the topic of Gollaher or law enforcement arises.

The multi-agency raid on the Gollaher's Salt Lake City condo ultimately resulted in Gollaher also being charged by the Utah Attorney General's office with 11 counts in March 2013 relating to child porn.

Gollaher's attorney, Edwin Wall, who declined to comment, has significantly slowed down progress of the Salt Lake County preliminary hearing by raising issues relating to the FBI's failure to comply with subpoenas for the agents' case files that Gollaher's defense was seeking. He has also highlighted federal prohibitions of the dissemination of child porn as restricting his client's ability to defend himself in court. Wall sought to show several child-porn images that feature Gollaher and an unidentified child to Maxfield's daughter as part of the preliminary hearing, but state and federal law would make that a crime. In the court-filed information, Ross stated that the dates the photographs were taken "coincided" with the dates and times Maxfield's daughter stayed with Gollaher and his wife.

In late December 2013, Gollaher finally got to examine in the Salt Lake County case one of the three photos the FBI had found in his condo of child porn where he was himself featured performing oral sex on a naked girl's torso. For 18 seconds in court, Gollaher says, he intently stared at the photograph of his face and the child's midriff. While acknowledging his features are on the photo, "it's very easy for me to know there's something wrong with that photo," he says. "It doesn't reflect reality." Ask if he means the image has been Photoshopped, he declines to comment further.

Other photos shown in Salt Lake County court included one of Maxfield's laughing daughter in a bubble bath, with Gollaher outside the bath, a bubble beard on his face.

Rowing Upstream

In late April 2015, Gollaher is scheduled to stand trial in 2nd District Court in Morgan, Utah, on four charges of aggravated sexual abuse, although at press time, no specific date has been set. Judge Noel S. Hyde has set aside 19 days for what Farris says is a two-and-a-half-day trial. Each side blames the other for long delays, but regardless of nearly three years having gone by since Gollaher was charged, Farris says, the alleged child victims and their families have never faltered in their desire to seek justice.

Gollaher has been adamant from the beginning of his current prosecutions that the multiple county, state and federal agencies aligned against him have withheld evidence from his discovery and record requests. Farris rejects the accusation. The rules of evidence are very clear "that we can't have Perry Mason moments," he says. "There is no smoking gun. If I didn't give it to him, I couldn't use it."

In order to defend himself, though, Gollaher needs evidence, and it hasn't been easy to come by. At a March 2015 appeal hearing before the State Records Committee, Gollaher alleged that government entities, over a year-long period, had been playing "a shell game" with his GRAMA requests for information relating to the 2012 condo raid. Not long after the Records Committee heard his case, and just days before the hearing, he abruptly received 136 color photos—not of child porn, but rather law-enforcement shots of the condo raid that Weber County authorities had previously denied having.

One key motion that Judge Hyde has yet to rule on relates to whether Gollaher, since he is representing himself, can question the two 14-year-old girls in the upcoming Morgan County trial or if stand-by defense counsel must do it instead, as Farris maintains. The case, Farris says, rests on their testimony, since there is no forensic evidence.

"I feel like I'm rowing in a river of shit," Gollaher says to City Weekly, "but I'm making progress."

While Gollaher orchestrates his defense from his Salt Lake County jail cell in the days running up to his Morgan County trial, he can still play devil's advocate. The state and the FBI should stop hiding evidence from him, he claims. "Let's say I am guilty," he says. "They're totally destroying the case."

If he does manage to defeat these charges and regain his liberty, don't expect him to stay away from children. When he is a free man, "I am around children and adults," he says. "Have you ever taken care of somebody's kids? Have you ever been at somebody's party and been around kids? Why would I stay away from something that is not an issue other than society has labeled and said it is?"