As serial rapist Torrey Green was ordered to spend at least 26 years in prison, these survivors found strength in one another

Torrey Green looks back at his family after receiving a 26-year-to-life prison sentence. Green was found guilty of eight charges — including five counts of rape and sexual battery — in connection to reports from six women accusing him of sexual assault while he was a football player at Utah State University. Green received six consecutive and two concurrent charges, Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2019 in Brigham City, Utah. (Chantelle McCall | The Utah Statesman)

Brigham City • It was the first time they had ever met one another.

But each had shared the same experience: They had taken the witness stand in January and told strikingly similar stories of being sexually assaulted by former Utah State University football star Torrey Green.

Before the trial, these women were strangers. But as they lined the front row of the Brigham City courtroom Wednesday morning during Green’s sentencing hearing, they sat with hands clasped together. They looked on as they each took a turn telling the court about how Green had traumatized them and left behind emotional scars.

They watched as Green stood in handcuffs, telling the judge that he was not a rapist or a threat to the public.

And they smiled through tears as the judge turned to them just before sentencing Green and told them, “I believe you.”

After the judge handed down a hefty prison sentence — 26-years-to-life behind bars — they shared a sense of relief.

“We were able to embrace the other survivors,” one woman said after the sentencing, “and embrace them with open arms, knowing what they’ve been through. I think that was very empowering.”

A Brigham City jury in January convicted Green of eight charges in connection with reports from six women who say the athlete sexually abused them between 2013 and 2015 when he was a student in Logan.

Green testified at the trial that he had consensual sex with four of the women, and did not have sex with the other two.

He did not waver from his claims of innocence as he stood before 1st District Judge Brian Cannell on Wednesday. Green broke down in tears as he told the judge he was not “the monster” that he was being made out to be.

“I am horrified at the way these women describe my encounters with each of them,” he said. “I don’t know why these six believe that I am capable of raping them. This was all consensual. And I am so very sorry that they didn’t feel the same.”

Before handing down his sentence, Cannell said he had hoped to see at least some remorse from Green. He saw none.

“What you did was horrendous,” the judge told Green. “In the eyes of the law, you are a serial rapist. They didn’t want it. They didn’t like it.”

Prosecutors had urged Cannell to give Green the maximum sentence, ordering him to serve back-to-back prison terms on every count. The judge stopped just shy of doing that, ordering stacked five-year-to-life terms for each of the five rape convictions, and a one-year sentence for sexual battery. He allowed a charge of object rape and a count of forcible sexual abuse to run concurrent to the others.

But his sentence means that Green will have to serve time for each of the six women’s reports — which was what prosecutors wanted.

Deputy Cache County Attorney Spencer Walsh argued before the judge Wednesday that anything less than that would send a “terrible message” to the victims.

“The defendant sexually assaulted six women,” Walsh said. “Six separate and unique individuals. Six human beings. Six lives that were traumatized and forever changed.”

Green’s attorney, Skye Lazaro, had asked for a five-year-to-life term, saying that if the judge stacked the sentences, it could delay Green’s ability to start treatment at the prison.

But several of Green’s victims worried that if he were to get anything less than consecutive terms, he could be released and go on to harm more women.

During the trial, prosecutors leaned on similarities in the women’s testimonies to paint Green as a predator, someone who used his charm to get women alone before forcing sex on them.

All six women testified that they were assaulted during their first time alone with Green. Five said Green forced himself on them while they were in his apartment. Several of the women testified that Green had taken her into his bedroom to watch a movie before the alleged assault, and several said that Green told her he was really good and “she would like it.”

A seventh alleged victim’s case was different enough that a judge ruled that it will be tried separately. A trial date has not yet been set in that case.

Prosecutors said in court papers they received a dozen other similar reports that did not result in charges — 19 women in all. Walsh said it’s unlikely they’ll file more charges against Green, but said there’s always a possibility.

One victim told the judge Wednesday that she broke down in sobs when she learned of how many women Green sexually assaulted after she reported to police in 2015 that he had raped her.

The criminal justice system had failed her, she said, and failed Green, who went on to continue the same behavior even after police had contacted him about the allegations in her case.

“The only reason I turned him in was to protect other women from feeling the way I felt because of him,” she cried. “I felt like I failed. … The system failed to protect all of these women who came after me.”

It wasn’t until The Salt Lake Tribune published a story in 2016, detailing allegations from this woman and three others who had made similar police reports, that prosecutors reexamined the cases, and filed charges against Green that October.

One woman described in court Wednesday how she saw that news article, and knew she had to come forward to police and tell them that Green had assaulted her during their first date in 2014.

Though Green’s defense attorney had painted his accusers as scorned women seeking attention, she said she never wanted that.

“The reason I came forward was not a cry for attention,” she said. “It was a call for action.”

It was a difficult process to report, the woman said, but she would do it again in order to see justice served. Where once she was scared and embarrassed by what had happened, she is no longer afraid.

“I hope we, as women, will be able to haunt you,” she said, “the way you have haunted us.”

A third woman — who reported in 2016 that Green had raped her the prior year — recalled the fear she felt testifying in front of a jury in January, detailing the specifics of how Green assaulted her.

She remembered pacing through a park and crying after hearing there was a verdict, wondering what the jury would decide.

Would the man who attacked her be able to go free, she wondered? Did her voice matter?

The guilty verdict, she said, was at first stunning.

“We were believed,” she said. “We were able to get our stories heard and believed in a time when sexual assault isn’t talked about enough.”

After Wednesday’s sentencing, she stood holding the hand of another of Green’s victims — a stranger bound to her by their shared traumatic experience — and said she hopes their stories will help change the criminal justice system and empower other survivors of sexual abuse.

“You do have a voice,” she said. “I have been heard. And we have been heard. Every single survivor in this case has been heard, and I think that’s a big deal.”

Victims stand together holding hands while speaking to reporters after the sentencing of Torrey Green. Green was found guilty of eight charges including five counts of rape and sexual battery in connection to reports from six women accusing him of sexual assault while he was a football player at Utah State University. Green received 6 consecutive and two concurrent charges, Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2019 in Brigham City, Utah. (Chantelle McCall/ The Utah Statesman)