Rae Edwards remembers the first time she felt the sinking, awful feeling that reporting her rape wasn’t going to go well for her.
As a police officer came into her hospital room, she thought about how she didn’t want to tell authorities her accusation that a Utah State University athlete had raped her in his bedroom during a post-football game party.
But her friends had encouraged her to, she recalled in a recent interview. “Do it for other women,” they told her, “so that he doesn’t do it again.”
What about me? she wondered.
That was nearly seven years ago. And Edwards is still waiting to get the measure of justice she felt could be hers after she told a Logan detective that then-USU football player Torrey Green had sexually assaulted her in November 2015.
She was one of 19 women who made sexual assault allegations against Green, and one of the seven whose cases prosecutors eventually filed in court.
A trial was held three years ago for six of them — strangers to each other who told similar stories of being sexually assaulted during their first time alone with Green. A jury convicted him, and he was sentenced to spend at least 26 years in prison.
But Edwards’ report was different enough that a judge ruled it would be unfair to Green for her testimony to be heard with the six others. She and Green had been at a party, not alone. And she knew Green before the alleged assault, unlike the six women.
So she waited for the trial for the six other women to go first.
And the 27-year-old woman is still waiting. Prosecutors and Green’s defense attorney have been delaying her trial, every six months or so, for years as Green appeals his convictions in the 2019 trial.
But Edwards yearns to close this chapter of her life. She pictures this moment in her mind: She’s standing in the wood-paneled Logan courtroom with her thoughts written down on a piece of paper. She faces the man she says raped her. And she hopes she’ll feel able to say she forgives him.
“The only way to be done with it is going to trial,” she said. “It’s a big deal to me that it happens and it’s done with so that I can move on from it.”
“Seven years,” she added, “is a long time.”
Not the only one
Edwards went to a hospital the day after she says Green sexually assaulted her, and eventually spoke to a Logan detective about what happened.
She said she had been drinking alcohol during the party on Nov. 21, 2015, and had gone into Green’s room to kiss him. When he tried to take off her pants, Edwards said, she told him she only wanted to kiss. She told him she didn’t want to have to sex, but says he had intercourse with her anyway, only stopping after someone in the party pounded on his bedroom door.
At first, Edwards’ report went nowhere — though she wasn’t the first to tell that same police officer that Green had sexually assaulted her.
She was the fourth woman in 2015 who sat on the same patterned couch in the Logan Police Department and made a similar accusation against Green.
But their cases languished until The Salt Lake Tribune published an investigative report in 2016, which led prosecutors to reexamine the cases and to more women coming forward to accuse Green.
Edwards was one of the four women initially interviewed for that story, identified then with the pseudonym “Debbie.” The Tribune generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault, but Edwards agreed to be identified by her name in this story.
The media coverage led to prosecutors filing 12 charges against Green, in connection with seven women’s reports. The county attorney’s office said in court papers they received a dozen other similar reports that did not result in charges.
Edwards said she hesitated at first about whether she wanted to pursue a criminal case. She was pregnant at the time prosecutors filed charges, and wanted to focus on her son. But she said the state attorneys urged her to push forward, noting she had strong evidence because she had reported soon after the alleged assault and had gone to a hospital for a sexual assault examination.
She remembers testifying while five months pregnant during Green’s preliminary hearing in 2017, and feeling her son moving around in her belly as she recalled painful details of the alleged assault.
“It was really, really tough,” she said.
‘I wish I didn’t break their hearts’
When Green went to trial in 2019, jurors didn’t hear Edwards’ account, but they did hear testimony for the six other accusers.
Prosecutors leaned on the similarities of their accounts, painting Green as a predator, someone who used his charm to get women alone before forcing sex on them. Several of the victims reported that they met Green on the dating app Tinder. They all testified they were assaulted during their first time alone with Green in his apartment.
Five said Green put on a movie before he assaulted them, and five testified Green had told each of them “she would enjoy” having sex with him.
Green testified in his own defense, telling jurors that he either had consensual sex with the women — or that sex never happened. He said he regretted not being more upfront with the women about not being interested in a long-term relationship.
“Particularly these women,” he said of his accusers, “I wish I didn’t break their hearts.”
Green maintained his innocence at his sentencing hearing in March 2019, telling the judge: “I don’t know why these six women 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.”
Those women met each other for the first time in that Brigham City courtroom on the day that Green was sentenced to a 26-years-to-life prison term. They lined the front row of the courtroom, hands clasped together, and shared a feeling of relief when Judge Brian Cannell turned to them and told them, “I believe you,” before sending Green to prison.
But Edwards wasn’t allowed in the courtroom that morning. With her case still pending, she has never been able to meet or talk with the other accusers — an effort by prosecutors to ensure their testimonies remain independent.
She feels robbed of that moment, and the healing that came when the women could stand together in the courtroom.
“I was pretty upset that I didn’t get to have someone to lean on,” she said.
But Edwards tried to reassure herself then that her trial was coming.
Maybe in sixth months, she hoped.
An appeal that ‘dragged on’
Green filed a notice that he would appeal his convictions less than a month later.
His appellate attorney argued in court papers that the judge never should have allowed the six women to testify in front of the same jury, and argued their memories were not independent from one another because several came forward to officials after reading The Tribune’s coverage.
Green’s attorney also claimed prosecutors inappropriately compared Green, who is Black, to a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” — an “improper invocation of race,” she argued, by attributing animalistic characteristics to a Black person. Appellate attorneys for the state argue this is a common Biblical reference, which prosecutors had used to describe his approach to the women, and had no race-related implications.
The Utah Supreme Court heard oral arguments in his case earlier this month, and took the matter under advisement.
The appeal, though, has been dragging on for years, with attorneys asking for more time because they were short-staffed and because the legal arguments were complicated by the lengthy trial and number of victims. Green’s attorney asked for eight extensions. After his argument was filed in 2020, the state then asked for a deadline delay nine times.
Edwards’ case, meanwhile, remains at a standstill. Deputy Cache County Attorney Dane Murray told The Tribune that prosecutors initially agreed to postpone Edward’s case until after the appeal, at the request of the public defender who has been representing Green since his 2019 sentencing.
“The appellate case dragged on longer than any of us had expected,” the prosecutor said.
Green’s defense attorney, Michael McGinnis, did not respond to a request for comment.
Murray acknowledged the many factors that have contributed to years of delays in Edwards’ case. The public defender assigned in 2019 had to get familiar with the case, he said, then the pandemic halted jury trials altogether. Now, there’s a backlog of trials waiting to be heard.
And Murray said there hasn’t been quite the same level of urgency in Green’s case compared to others, where someone who hasn’t been convicted yet may be incarcerated while waiting for their trial date. Green is currently serving his prison sentence in the Kane County jail.
“I completely understand Rae’s frustration,” Murray said. “This is still going on years after she was allegedly victimized.”
‘For the 20-year-old who was alone’
Murray said he’s done with the delays. If the state’s highest court hasn’t weighed in by their next court date in February, he said, he will push forward to trial. The soonest that could happen, he estimates, would be next summer.
Edwards, who since left Logan and lives in Wyoming, remains determined. She said she’s felt isolated these last seven years, like there wasn’t anyone on her side.
She didn’t want to report, but her friends told her to. She didn’t want to testify, but prosecutors urged her. And she’s felt alone as her case has been pushed aside, time and time again.
Now, she’s motivated to go to trial for one person: Herself.
“I just want to do it for the 20-year-old who was alone,” she said. “After all that has happened, everybody making me do it for other people — now I want to be able to do it for myself.”