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Bail upped in lewd conduct case

| January 16, 2021 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — An effort to reduce bail in a Bonner County man's lewd conduct case backfired on Wednesday.

Counsel for Jacob James Orville Gunter argued his $25,000 should be lowered after he was ordered to stand trial for sexually abusing a preteen girl, but Judge Justin Julian instead upped the sum to $50,000 after hearing the alleged victim's testimony during a preliminary hearing.

Julian found that the the girl's testimony was "highly credible," according to court documents.

Gunter, 28, is accused of touching the girl's genitalia in December of last year. He is scheduled to be arraigned on the felony offense in 1st District Court on Jan. 21.

It also emerged during the preliminary hearing that Gunter is facing a rape charge for allegedly forcing himself on a young adult woman in Ponderay in September 2019. A criminal complaint alleges the woman resisted, but that resistance was overcome by force or violence.

The woman resolved to come forward after another woman alleged she had also been raped by Gunter, according to a probable cause affidavit. When the woman protested Gunter's actions, he allegedly assured her by saying, "It's okay" and, "You'll be fine," the affidavit said.

The woman told investigators that she felt safe coming forward with her allegations because Gunter was already being held at the jail on the lewd conduct charge, according to court documents.

A preliminary hearing in the rape case is scheduled for Jan. 20.

Rape and lewd conduct are offenses which can result in lifelong prison sentences if convictions are obtained.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and followed on Twitter @KeithDaily Bee