Judge questions whether sex abuse was 'invited,' orders probation for jailer

Victim, advocate say such comments are why women don't always report sex crimes

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • 483bzac West Valley City, UT
    March 1, 2014 10:22 a.m.

    @RBN One crime does not authorize another. Paul Harvey, the late national radio personality, said it best that if you want to find the real scum of the earth, one need look not further than many prison guards. I know that there are millions of complaints against them and Judge Sam probably has reviewed some frivolous claims from inmates against them. In this matter, when a guard actually admits to inappropriate behavior, there should have been a different finding. On a legal level Judge Sam might not have been able to make that finding but I don't see how because the case was actually given a hearing. We incarcerate more people out of our population by an average rate of 7-2 than any other country. Then we treat them as monsters. Are we really the worst people on earth?

  • Kate Hutch Kenmore, WA
    Feb. 28, 2014 3:57 p.m.

    Given the statistics in Utah compared to the rest of the nation on frequency of sexual assaults, incest and pornography, I would say Utah has some soul-searching to do on how females and vulnerable people are treated. This judge is part of the problem. There should be a zero tolerance policy and it does not matter what training that deputy received. If he did not know that touching a prisoner is just wrong and not to be done, then something is wrong with him. I agree with above poster who stated that a situation where a prisoner could be inappropriately touched should not exist. Having more than one adult in the room, surveillance cameras, strict policies all reduce the number of these crimes and complaints.

  • Bob Pomeroy Bisbee, AZ
    Feb. 27, 2014 5:39 p.m.

    Almost everyone gets that being under the formal control and authority of another renders 'consent' impossible under law. The rule is universally accepted, and moots the 'he said/she said" problem. It would be interesting to know the demographic of the commenters.

  • HotGlobe SAN RAFAEL, CA
    Feb. 27, 2014 4:55 p.m.

    I have no clue if you are guilty or not. 50/50...just can't tell, so I'll give you half a sentence. Is that how it works?

    Wonderful thing here is the comments. Most people are on her side. That represents a huge change in awareness that has happened recently.

  • Nighshade Acton, MA
    Feb. 27, 2014 3:26 p.m.

    The judge blew this. Even if he had doubts and decided to give the guy a light sentence, he never should have said what he did. Proabably his judgement and comments are being reviewed by those above him as we speak. At the very least, he needs to be scrutinized by whoever is responsible for doing that--and he needs to know it's happening. Wake-up time for him.

  • jans Pickerington, OH
    Feb. 27, 2014 11:41 a.m.

    In response to "I know it. I Live it. I Love it." There is a saying that in the mouths of two or three witnesses a truth shall be established. More than one inmate was affected by this deputy's actions and he admitted it, he just downplayed the severity of it, in his judgement (which apparently is faulty). Therefore, with more than one witness, his inappropriate and illegal actions toward an inmate under his authority are established as the truth. As John Pack Lambert stated above, not everyone who goes to jail is actually guilty of the crime of which they are accused, and even if they are, abuse in jail should not be tolerated, no matter what their history. It is a mark of how far our humanity has fallen that we (the good law-abiding society) tacitly accept the prison abuse that is so rampant in our country. People should pay for their crimes in the manner civil law requires - this does not include losing their dignity and humanity in a corrupt and abusive prison society.

  • GD Syracuse, UT
    Feb. 27, 2014 5:49 a.m.

    This judge ought to be put in jail. This is unbelievable.

  • Sophie 62 spring city, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 10:58 p.m.

    Maybe her credibility would be in question if the guy hadn't admitted that he did indeed touch both women and then claimed it was a 'lack of training.'
    A lack of training? Really? Was he raised in a cave? Didn't have parents, school, POST classes required to become a deputy?
    If a person doesn't have enough self control, training or personal discretion to understand the ethics of this situation, then he has no business in a position of trust.
    And that certainly applies to Judge David Sam.

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Provo, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 10:35 p.m.

    She has faced multiple charges of "Theft by Deception" and has been arrested multiple times.

    Is her credibility in question?

    Would you take the word of a deputy who says he made a mistake, but not a sexual advance... or someone with that history? If you'd take her word, you wouldn't last long as a judge. She could very well be right, but the burden of proof is on her and her history CERTAINLY doesn't help.

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Provo, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 10:22 p.m.


    Please point out where anyone said or even remotely implied that inappropriate touching was "okay".

    Please treat our intelligent and cogent comments with a bit of respect.

  • Smokin' Joe ALTURAS, CA
    Feb. 26, 2014 7:32 p.m.

    None of us really know anything about the facts of this case. None of us has read the investigative reports or the sentencing report prepared by the probation officer. It would be naïve to deny the existence of a political agenda often in play when it comes to sex cases. Far too many prosecutors and judges capitulate to that agenda to the effect that justice often is not served as a consequence. Insofar as Judge Sam may have been standing up to that agenda in its effect perhaps leading to an erroneous evaluation of the facts of the case relative to the culpability of the accused, he is to be commended, not condemned.

  • Transaction7 Commerce, Texas
    Feb. 26, 2014 6:36 p.m.

    According to this apparently credible article, the defendant officer admitted, in an open plea, that he had touched the breasts of two female inmates under his care, authority, and control. Then he tried to excuse his inexcusable conduct by incredibly claiming a lack of training, as if an officer needed any to know this was wrong under any circumstances whatsoever. Can the government appeal this pat on the butt sentence as an abuse of discretion in the procedural posture of the case.

    I practiced law for many years and also had a lot of other privileged and confidential relationships with survivors of sexual abuse in therapy, representing mentl helath professionals, etc. This kind of official misconduct is all too common and the good old boy system produces results like this.

    A civil rights damage suit, with a lower burden of proof, may be in order, if this federal judge would not hear it and the plaintiffs could get past his comments.

  • Jim Mesa, Az
    Feb. 26, 2014 6:33 p.m.

    Irrespective of whether alledged permission was given or whether it was encouraged or not you have to remember the relationship of prisoner and jailer. The jailer has no right to inappropriatly touch anyone. This guy knew this and took full advantage of his position of trust. He needs to be locked up.

  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    Feb. 26, 2014 5:23 p.m.

    Yes, I recall the case with the lacrosse team. Such incidents are as tragic as the ones when the victim is raped by a group, photos taken, uploaded for amusement, and she is the star of the show, passed out, and the brunt of the jokes later, as her rapists are saved from their consequences by family, friends, and sympathetic townsfolk. This man, however, did admit his crime, and it shouldn't have taken a rocket scientist to figure out without training that it was wrong, wrong, wrong. He was doing what toddlers do--blaming someone else, to get out of trouble. Maybe he needed to spend some time being the jailed instead of the jailer, to see what it was like counting on someone else to treat him with dignity.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Feb. 26, 2014 4:47 p.m.

    Actually, I noticed this person was in jail. Not everyone put in jail is ever convicted of a crime. All arrested people get put in jail, but many people are wrongly arrested. So there is no reason to act like just because someone has been in jail they are a criminal.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Feb. 26, 2014 4:44 p.m.

    Killpack's claim that Epperson touched bare breasts due to "a lack of training" is nonsense. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but I cannot believe that anyone is ignorant of the law to the extent to not realized that A-touching these parts of another's body without consent is illegal, and B-that the very notion of consent from incarcerated people in a case like this is unworkable.

    The whole case is a travesty of justice.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Feb. 26, 2014 4:41 p.m.

    Judge Sam has had senior judge status, which if I understand correctly is like being semi-retired, since 1999. Maybe this is a sign that we need to not allow people to sit on the federal judiciary for ever. It leads to old attitudes towards things like rape being imposed in modern sentencing.

    On the other hand, maybe I should not blame judge Sam's failures on others. It is his own failures that are clear, not those of others.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Feb. 26, 2014 4:31 p.m.

    This is another egregious overstepping of authority by a judge. It was up to the jury to decide if the accused was guilty or not. Since the jury found the person guilty of the crimes, the judge should sentence them based on their crimes, not based on his own feelings.

    Being imprisoned does not make women open to sexual exploitation. This is a dark mark on the US judiciary, and we just hope it can be shown to not truly reflect Utah views, since this is a federal judge.

  • Obama10 SYRACUSE, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 2:52 p.m.

    "actions were due to a lack of training"??? Really? You need "training" to know not to touch inmates breasts whether invited or not? Did you think the jail was a frat house? What does this say about the kind of people they are hiring to work in our jails? Not the sharpest tool in the shed.

  • staypuffinpc Provo, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 12:50 p.m.

    So, this comment was denied initially, but I can't see how it's any more or less offensive than other posted comments. It might be because I included the words "breast" and "genitalia," but those are the terms used in the article.

    More and more, I see how much the powers that be are a good ole' boy system. In health-care, law, and politics, there seems to be no justice for the "little guy." This judge should realize that, invited or not, the guard's position meant that he could not, under any circumstances instantiate sexual contact with prisoners. What's worse is that there are lawyers like this out there who feel it is fine to help others lie their way out of any sort of accountability for their actions. Not sufficient training? No one ever taught him that he shouldn't touch the bare breasts or genitalia of a detained prisoner in his care, with or without his permission? As a judge, I'd be offended that someone would think I'd be so stupid as to buy that excuse.

  • One opinion west jordan, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 11:22 a.m.

    From what I understand a jailer/prison employee comes up against all kinds of provocation but is trained to know that they must remain steadfast - no matter what the provocation is. They are trained in all sorts of ways to avoid reacting to the provocations, whether it is being spit on, swore at, or other tactics are used on them. All kinds of agreements are signed by the employee and they know what is appropriate and what is not. The point is, he dishonored the commitments he has made. If an employee transgresses that commitment, they are generally fired or reprimanded in some way. In this case put on probation.

  • Big Joe V Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    Feb. 26, 2014 11:18 a.m.

    @Dante, Her reasons for being in jail are irrelevant to the crime committed to her. You are still a human being not a sex toy.

  • The Final Word Alpine, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 10:38 a.m.

    A couple of comments.

    If the dude touched her inappropriately then he obviously should not have done that and should receive punishment accordingly.

    That being said just because a woman claims it happens doesn't mean it did and starting with the premise that they guy is guilty just because a woman said something happened is wrong.

    There are plenty of incidences where everyone believed one thing and when the evidence and facts came forward it was an entirely different story.

    Each case should be decided on its own and not with instantly believing anyone male/female by default. I get tired of the argument "well this is women don't come forward.....". Each case should stand on its own.

    Duke lacrosse rape case ring a bell with anyone?

  • RBN Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 10:15 a.m.

    For those that say the nature of her crime is irrelevant don't understand evidence. The crime she was charged with may affect her credibility, and can be used to impeach it. Mitigating factors may be at play. Judge Sam is as experienced and fair a judge as there is.

  • Whoa Nellie American Fork, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 9:30 a.m.

    Dante, your comments are not credible or valid if you can't even identify the victim/inmate. Killpack was the defense attorney according to this article. Stay on topic.

  • AllBlack San Diego, CA
    Feb. 26, 2014 9:18 a.m.

    Dante: "Was she in jail for prostitution, indecent exposure, or similar sex-related crimes? If so, the degree of offense she suffered is open to question."

    No it isn't. Your comment shows everything that is wrong with some men (and some women) who still cleave to a 1950's mistake ideology about sexual assault and abuse in general. Even a criminal in jail or a prostitute is entitle to NOT be raped nor abused nor groped and the punishment should be the same for all offenders, or maybe even harsher for offenders in positions of trust.

    It's about us and the way we as law abiding citizens behave not what someone's past crimes or job is or was.

  • Western Rover Herriman, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 8:48 a.m.

    cc423, how do you explain the same judge's opinion in the Womack case, as quoted in this story? If the judge was lenient on Epperson because he's lax on sexual assault, rather than because the evidence wasn't strong, then why did he come down much harder on Womack?

    I admit that I myself was pretty skeptical about this judge's impartiality and was prepared to write a comment about injustice until I got to the part about the Womack case.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    Feb. 26, 2014 8:45 a.m.

    @Dante - "Unfortunately, this article deprives the reader of sufficient information to form an opinion of Killpack's reliability".

    Fortunately, we do not need to form an opinion on this. I am grateful for all the things that I do not need to decide.

    However, I wonder what a "jury of her peers" (other inmates?) would have decided about this alleged abuse.

  • cc423 Atlanta, GA
    Feb. 26, 2014 8:42 a.m.

    DANTE: It does NOT matter what her crime was... This officer admitted he touched this woman inappropriately. HE ADMITTED IT. Her past is no issue.

  • jans Pickerington, OH
    Feb. 26, 2014 8:04 a.m.

    The key word here is CONSENT. If you are an inmate under the authority of a jailer you do not have legal CONSENT, regardless of the circumstances. The judge is wrong and prison reform is desperately needed. Also, the US is obsessed with incarcerating people for minor offenses anyway, which just makes this kind of problem even worse.

  • cc423 Atlanta, GA
    Feb. 26, 2014 7:55 a.m.

    Sexual predators need to flock to Utah... this judge has your back! And women... BEWARE.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 7:43 a.m.

    The man admits he touched these women inappropriately. It doesn't matter if it was "invited" or not, it was wrong in the context of guard vs. inmate. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Unbelievable that some posters think this was ok.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 7:43 a.m.

    "'As I said previously, this case is just fraught with 'she said, he said.' It's fraught with the possibility of conduct that was lured, encouraged and invited,' Sam said."
    All of which may be true AND no excuse for illegal conduct by the officer, if it occurred.

    I agree with the comment above that because of all the problems cited above, the **real** issue at hand is a protocol that would allow such a 'she said, he said.' condition to ever exist in this environment. It might be expensive but a system of constantly recorded surveillance camera coverage would remove the problem of contrary 2-party testimony.

    My guess is it would also do something of even greater importance by **preventing** any improper behavior in the first place.

  • Dante Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 7:12 a.m.

    This article would be much more useful if the reader were told what crimes Killpack committed that got her thrown in jail. Is she a thief? Did her crimes reflect dishonesty? Did her presentencing report indicate borderline personality disorder and a propensity to hurt others? Do her crimes indicate that she's a compulsive liar, unwilling to acknowledge her complicity in the problems in her life? If so, then her credibility should indeed be questioned.

    Was she in jail for prostitution, indecent exposure, or similar sex-related crimes? If so, the degree of offense she suffered is open to question.

    On the other hand, if Killpack was in jail for unpaid traffic tickets (unlikely), then she is entitled to greater credibility. If she was in jail for selling heroin, then other implications might be drawn.

    She wasn't in jail for being a trustworthy, honest, upstanding citizen, no matter what the Rape Crisis Center may say. Unfortunately, this article deprives the reader of sufficient information to form an opinion of Killpack's reliability.

  • bradleyc Layton, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 2:29 a.m.

    Judge Sam is one of the finest and fairest people I know. I absolutely trust his judgement and appreciate his service.

  • Rational Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 11:46 p.m.

    Get this judge off the bench.

  • jliddle Dayton, NV
    Feb. 25, 2014 11:30 p.m.

    "Killpack . . . reminded the judge that Epperson didn't ever admit to anything other than sexual assault."

    That's a pretty egregious typo. The article makes it clear that Epperson only admitted to "simple assault."

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Provo, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 11:05 p.m.

    The judge isn't wrong.

    Without other evidence it ultimately is word against word, credibility against credibility. And ultimately the burden of proof can only fairly be placed on the accuser, not accused.

    "Deputy" doesn't warrant an exemption of scrutiny, but "criminal" does weaken the credibility of the accuser. With that said, it may very well be true. Personally, I don't doubt it or believe it either way. But I wouldn't hate the judge for not locking a man up and potentially splitting up his family... all on someone's word. And if he had... people might have asked why he took "the word of a criminal", etc.


    With that said, protocol is an issue that can weigh in on this.

    1 - Why aren't multiple parties present for a physical check?
    2 - Why not in an area under at least partial surveillance?

    Ultimately, where this man requested a training and didn't get it, requested a transfer and didn't get it, this doesn't hurt his case at all. If anything it could hurt the prison's credibility, but that's it.

    Perhaps the truth hasn't surfaced, but that isn't the judge's fault.

  • Ed Grady Idaho Falls, ID
    Feb. 25, 2014 10:36 p.m.

    What a creepy judge.