Woman who’s suing an ex-judge for sex abuse says Utah needs to do better

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-27 21:35:30-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Terry Mitchell spent an hour outlining all the troubles she’s had with the system. The courts, the cops, the victim advocates and the people she said were supposed to help her.

Terry Mitchell (center) speaks to the Utah Council on Victims of Crime on June 27, 2018. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

At age 16, Mitchell was a witness against serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin when he was accused of gunning down two men she was with back in 1980. She’s now sued the man who helped prosecute Franklin. She has accused now-retired federal judge Richard Roberts of sexually abusing her during that time period. He abruptly retired as chief judge of the Washington, D.C., federal court the same day she filed her lawsuit against him.

At a meeting Wednesday of Utah’s Council on Victims of Crime, Mitchell spoke about complaints she’s had over the years about her situation. She urged them to prod the Utah State Legislature to make policy changes to help others.

“I don’t want others to have to go through this,” she told FOX 13 afterward.

Mitchell asked the Utah Council on Victims of Crime to train victim advocates to do more to make her and others feel safe. She wanted more resources to keep victims informed and protected.

“Legislation mandating law enforcement officers and prosecutors never be one on one,” she said, reading off a list of requests.

She said meetings between police or prosecutors and a crime victim ought to be recorded, and victims should have access to their cases. Mitchell wanted victim advocates and police to declare any conflicts of interest, so they wouldn’t feel betrayed.

Mitchell has accused the Utah Attorney General’s Office of sharing information about its investigation with Judge Roberts. The attorney general’s office declined to comment on Wednesday.

“Why wasn’t I treated the same way he was treated?” she said.

Council members listened intently, asking Mitchell questions about her case. They agreed to look at items she presented, but did not signal if it would potentially become future legislation. Mitchell told reporters outside the meeting she would also be contacting lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the Utah Supreme Court has been deliberating Mitchell’s lawsuit against Roberts. She is asking the Court to allow a new law that lets victims sue abusers past a statute of limitations to be applied retroactively. The Court heard arguments on it last month.

Roberts’ attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.