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Sex assault victim says a year after Utah officials promised help, still no justice

Sex assault victim says a year after Utah officials promised help, still no justice

(KUTV) Terry Mitchell, who secretly recorded a now-retired federal judge admitting he had sex with her when she was a 16 years old in 1981, says she is still waiting for Richard Roberts to suffer the consequences for sexually abusing her.

In March of 2016, after the story became public, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz said in a statement the allegations against a sitting federal judge caused him "alarm and distress."

"We will work with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to determine next best steps to ensure justice is served," he said in the statement.

More than a year has passed since that statement and Mitchell said there is still no justice for her.

Roberts is enjoying retirement with his full salary since shortly after her story became public.

"Nobody seems to be doing anything," she said.

KUTV tried to contact Chaffetz and his spokesperson to ask why nothing has been done to hold the retired judge accountable.

In a text message, MJ Henshaw, Chaffetz' spokesperson sent a text message.

"I don't have any info for you," said the text message.

Richard Roberts came to Utah in 1981 to prosecute a murder case where Mitchell's friends were the victims. She was a witness.

Mitchell said Roberts coerced her into having sex several times. She stayed quiet because he told her if she talked there could be a mistrial.

Over 30 years later, she spoke with Roberts on the phone and recorded their conversation in which he admitted he had sex with her.

Mitchell went to the office of Utah Attorney General's Office with the evidence.

They investigated and wrote a report but did not charge or prosecute Roberts, who was still a sitting judge in Washington, D.C., because the case fell under a 1981 law that made Roberts actions a misdemeanor, not a felony. Prosecutors could not force Roberts to come back to Utah on a misdemeanor charge.

"If the law today had been in place in 1981, I would have charged him. I would have extradited him," said Deputy Utah Attorney General Spence Austin.

Mitchell feels her work in getting the recording helped Roberts more than it helped her because the attorney general's office gave information about the investigation to Roberts. She feels it helped him plan his sudden retirement.

He made sure the predator walked away with a $203,000 per year pension," Mitchell said.

Soon after the investigation was completed, MItchell filed a civil lawsuit against Roberts.

Hours after that lawsuit was filed, he retired for reasons of disability.

Austin said he had to share the information with Roberts in order to get him to respond to Mitchell's allegations. Roberts never responded to the attorney general's office. Austin said there was no way to force him to Utah to respond to a misdemeanor.

He said while what happened to Mitchell is terrible and tragic, the Utah Attorney General's Office did everything possible to help Mitchell.

"I think we have gone beyond what we would normally do because of the terrible nature of this particular act," Austin said.

He said after the investigation, the AG's Office's took the advice of Chaffetz and filed a judicial misconduct complaint with with the D.C. Court of Appeals. It was dismissed.

Next, they took the complaint to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, asking that body to take some disciplinary action against Roberts.

Nothing has resulted from that complaint. Austin said it seems wrong that the judge can enjoy his full salary in retirement given what happened.

Mitchell said she regrets taking her case to state leaders.

"I'm coming forward and telling the truth about someone very powerful and there's not a lot of people that will stand with me," she said.

Mitchell's civil lawsuit against Richards is still pending.

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