I read a disturbing story in The Salt Lake Tribune recently about four cases of sexual assault that the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute. The attorney for the victims is now asking that the Utah Supreme Court assign a new attorney to prosecute the cases.
While I am in no position to comment on the particular cases, I’ve been a life-long advocate for victims of violence and sexual assault and can confidently comment on Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. I can attest to his commitment to supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence to ensure their voices are heard in the system, that they are given the support and resources and, most importantly, that they can find justice in our justice system.
I have known Gill for almost 17 years. I met him at a domestic violence coalition meeting when he was the Salt Lake City prosecutor. At the time I was the shelter director at the YWCA. We worked together over many months and years to establish the Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center and, as its founder, I can say that without the commitment and advocacy of Sim Gill there would not be a Family Justice Center in Salt Lake City.
He was one of the first people to stand by the YWCA in the formative days of this center and to commit his time and resources to establishing a space where victims of domestic and sexual violence could come to one location to access services. He has always been committed to victim safety and advocated for them to speak out and to be represented in the system in a fair and unbiased way. He helped bring other agencies to the center to expand services and committed his staff to be at the center in its early days because he was committed to making this model succeed — for justice and for victims.
In my experience, Gill is a man who has shown with his actions as well as his words his commitment to the issues of violence against women. While there may be constraints and flaws within the justice system, I know as a citizen of Salt Lake County I can absolutely rely on Gill to work on behalf of the people who elected him to bring about the changes that will lead to justice.
Asha Parekh, Salt Lake City
Former director of the Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center at the YWCA