Cleared coach shares trying year under dark cloud of alleged sex abuse
By Michael McFall
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Mar 26 2014 09:38PM
Steven Dale Green says he’s sorry if he sounds bitter — but he figures if he had not hired a private investigator and paid for a good defense, he can almost guarantee he would be heading to prison for child rape.
On Tuesday, the 2nd District Court dismissed 13 first-degree felony charges against the 42-year-old Bountiful man, including rape, rape of a child, object rape of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child and forcible sodomy. The dismissal, based on evidence provided by Green’s defense team, came about a year after Green was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl who played on his soccer team.
"All of the resources that went into this ... and for what? It could have been avoided," Green said at a Wednesday evening press conference. He’s disappointed in the Bountiful police for not doing a more thorough investigation before arresting him, and he’s lost some faith in the courts. "I don’t refer to it as the justice system — rather as the legal system."
It was a trying year for Green, whose family started helping the girl when he says she was struggling in school. She was a like a sister to his stepdaughter. They tutored and coached her for two years.
The girl claimed her relationship with Green turned sexual in 2008, when she was 13. The girl, now 18, testified in a preliminary hearing that the two had sex almost daily from 2008-2011, with most of the alleged encounters taking place at Green’s home.
The girl testified that the police were notified of the alleged affair after her grandmother found a condom in her room and asked about her sexual history. The girl’s family notified police, and Bountiful officers arrested Green in February 2013 while he was working out at the South Davis Recreation Center.
When Green found out that he was suspected of child rape, he said he went numb. Describing what he was going through, Green quoted Chevy Chase from "Christmas Vacation:" "If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now."
IN HIS OWN WORDS: Read a transcript of Green’s press conference details the tolls the accusations have taken on his personal life.
While he sat in jail, his wife was in the dark, worried and thinking he had been in a car accident. She eventually learned of the accusations through the news. When he got home, she met him with a long silence.
But after Green told her who he suspected his accuser was, his wife was in his corner. While the accusations galvanized the Green family, the next year still proved challenging.
Green immediately lost his job and struggled for months to find work. His current employer did not know about the charges before hiring him.
Some of the neighbors stopped talking to him and some of his children’s friends no longer came over.
One of his younger children handled the situation "pretty well" by talking about it, but the other child would leave the room whenever the topic arose.
"You can’t go to Smith’s and hear [words like] ‘child molester’ and ‘baby raper’ and not have it affect the kids," Green said.
In the meantime, Green took and passed a polygraph test. He and his attorney Greg Law hired a private investigator who spoke to witnesses and found contradictory statements, Green said. He claims they also found problems with the teen’s story, such as dates when Green says he was out of state and that their alleged first encounter in the backseat of his car is problematic because, Green says, as a larger man, he can’t fit in the backseat. He even let the crime lab take pictures of his anatomy to prove his accuser never could have seen him nude.
After his defense team submitted the evidence, Deputy Davis County Attorney Cristina Ortega dismissed the case because she didn’t feel there was a "reasonable likelihood" that there would be a conviction at trial.
When the charges were dropped, Green did not feel the elation he thought he would. After having been "coiled up" for so long, he said he was just tired.
He has hard feelings toward his accuser, but he does not want to sue for defamation. Even if he were to win, "she’s 18 now," he said. "Probably worth $1.98."
Ortega said Wednesday that she does not anticipate "following up or doing anything in connection to the victim" either.
Green’s freedom still does not feel real to him yet, and he knows the public’s questions will always linger.
He wonders about people like him who are in prison because they could not afford the defense that he could. But he does not want suspicion to fall on legitimate victims.
"There are real predators out there doing real harm to real kids. Please pursue them," he said. "I have daughters of my own."
For Green’s part, he apologizes "for being a bit bitter. I will never — do we dare say never? — coach again. I will never tutor again. I will never help a child again … We obeyed all the rules, we’re never alone, we had two people at least, we did everything you’re supposed to do and this still happened."
Reporter Jessica Miller contributed to this story.