Woman allegedly raped by cop claims justice 'failed completely'
A woman who claims she was raped by a Cottonwood Heights police officer said she is suing him because "the justice system failed completely."
"I believe [prosecutors] don't want to prosecute him because he's a police officer," Shauna Blue said Thursday, a day after she and her husband, Benjamin Blue, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court court claiming former officer Jeremy Lamph raped her at a hotel after a domestic violence call at her house.
Lamph resigned shortly after she reported the alleged sexual assault, but prosecutors declined to file criminal charges.
The lawsuit claims that police came to their home July 17, 2010, after the couple had an argument because Shauna had been drinking. She agreed to leave, and Lamph drove her to a motel, making "inappropriate sexual comments" on the way, the lawsuit claims. After he left, he continued to text her and then returned to photograph a facial injury she had complained about, Blue claims. Blue said she wanted to take the photos in the motel lobby, but Lamph insisted they go to her room. She said she was still intoxicated and had taken several sleeping pills.
In her room, Lamph exposed his genitals, grabbed Shauna Blue by the hair, forcefully pulled her clothes off and raped her, the lawsuit states. Blue said Lamph told her not to tell anyone what happened because his career and family would be ruined if they found out. She said Lamph sent another text message to her about a week after the attack, stating, "No victim, no crime."
Shauna Blue said symptoms of an STD appeared about two weeks after the alleged rape.
"I had never been treated for anything prior," Blue said. "I know [Lamph] is who gave it to me." Since the alleged attack, she has tried to commit suicide twice and suffers from panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder, she said.
She said she told her husband about the alleged rape three weeks later, and he called police. The investigation was transferred to Sandy police, said the Blues' attorney, Robert Sykes.
"[Detectives] did a very good job and recommended prosecution," Sykes said. "For whatever reason, the county attorney decided not to prosecute."
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said his office inherited the case when he took office in 2011 and declined charges because of inconsistencies in statements and "evidentiary concerns."
Shauna Blue, however, said one of the county attorney's investigators encouraged her to pursue the case with a civil lawsuit.
"The investigator said, 'This isn't over; you still have a civil suit you can file,'" Shauna Blue said.
The Blues are seeking unspecified damages. Police Chief Robby Russo and the city of Cottonwood Heights are also named in the suit. Russo could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Lamph's attorney Greg Skordas said the lack of criminal charges indicates the lawsuit has no merit. Gill noted that the standard of proof for a criminal case is higher than in a civil case.
"We did not think we could file criminal charges with a reasonable likelihood of conviction," Gill said. "I don't want to suggest in any way what that means in ... [a] civil action."
Shauna and Benjamin Blue each were charged with misdemeanor assault for the domestic fight, but the case was later dismissed, court records show. The Blues said an investigator called them after they missed a court date.
"The investigator said, 'Don't worry about coming to court,' and they dropped the charges," Benjamin Blue said.
The Tribune generally does not publish the names of alleged victims of sexual assault. In this case, Shauna Blue consented to have her name used.
"I don't think a person would make this up and expose herself to the criticism she's gonna get without having a really good reason to do it," Sykes said.