She had been told it would be fruitless to report to police that she had been raped by a friend in Salt Lake City, that the officers would be insensitive and her story would be quickly dismissed.
But she reported the 2014 assault anyway and began working with two Salt Lake City detectives to build a case, which included secretly recording a phone call to the man she says assaulted her.
“My detectives led me to believe I had a very good shot,” she said Wednesday, “And the [prosecutors’] office would move my case forward.”
But, weeks later, she heard that no charges would be filed.
The woman struggled for years after that. Her alleged attacked went on to graduate college and is now a teacher.
“Obviously this is very upsetting to me,” she said.
The woman, who now lives in California, flew to Utah to tell her story to lawmakers Wednesday to encourage them to pass a bill that would allow victims of serious crimes to seek a review from the attorney general’s office if their local prosecutor won’t take the case.
Another woman, Hailey Allen, also pleaded with legislators to pass the bill. She told of how she reported that she was raped and worked with the police to try to record a confession from her alleged attacker. But Utah County prosecutors decided not to file charges.
“This is why we need this bill,” she told lawmakers. “I ask you to give us a second chance.”
There were a half dozen more women ready to tell their stories at the House Judiciary Committee early Wednesday, but time ran out.
However, the committee unanimously passed the bill, sending it to the full House.
Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, said HB281 was drafted with victims of sexual violence in mind, though the bill says any first-degree felony could be reviewed.
She quoted one alleged victim, who told her: “I felt what I lost wasn’t worth the justice system even fighting for.”
One woman spoke in opposition of the bill. Terry Mitchell, who says she was sexually abused by a federal prosecutor when she was a 16-year-old witness in a high profile case, said she had no confidence in the attorney general’s office to do a thorough review.
That office investigated her report, she told lawmakers, but bungled the case — asking her invasive questions, releasing private information without her consent and dragging their feet which allowed her alleged attacker to retire from his job as a federal judge with no consequence.
“This is the wrong office to do the investigation,” she said. “If you are going to investigate these things, don’t use the attorney general’s office.”
The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault, but both Allen and Mitchell have agreed to be named in previous coverage.
Reed Richards, with the Statewide Association of Prosecutors, said Wednesday that Lisonbee’s bill had the support of Utah’s prosecutors.
Darcy Goddard, the chief policy adviser for the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, echoed that endorsement.
Most sexual assaults are never reported to law enforcement, she said — and of those that are, only a small percentage are then investigated. Fewer still are actually prosecuted.
“It is no wonder then, that victims nationwide are telling us they do not feel heard,” she said, “they do not feel respected, and they do not feel protected by existing systems of ‘justice.’”
Goddard said allowing alleged victims to have an option for another prosecutor review will send them a message: They will be heard.