A Utah judge gave a jailer who had admitted that he sexually abused female inmates a slap on the wrist, calling it a case of “she said, he said,” according to The Deseret News.
David Stein Epperson of Wasatch County, Utah, admitted that he had touched the bare breasts of two female inmates and that he touched the genital area of one of them. However, according to court transcripts, U.S. District Judge David Sam repeatedly questioned the victim’s credibility before sentencing Epperson to probation and eight months of home confinement.
“As I said previously, this case is just fraught with ‘she said, he said,'” Sam said from the bench. “It’s fraught with the possibility of conduct that was lured, encouraged and invited.”
Prosecutors had requested a sentence of four years in prison.
One of the victims, Deborah Hatch, attended the sentencing looking for justice. What she got was something else, saying that she was treated as second class citizen who “deserved what I got.”
“I just feel like I kind of just got … told I was the worst and I wasn’t innocent and I feel like I was being told that I deserved what I got,” Hatch said. “It was a different situation because we were inmates.”
Executive director of the Rape Recovery Center, Holly Mullen, said she was surprised to hear the comments from the judge. She added that dismissing a sexual assault as a “she said, he said” is part of the reason such crimes are so under-reported.
“For many years now there’s really only been about a 10 percent reporting rate of sexual crimes,” Mullen said. “There’s a very strong culture that exists … that [says] this is just going to be too difficult to prove. [Prosecutors] will tell victims, ‘I’m sorry. I’m not saying this didn’t happen to you, but we can’t make a case,’ and it does have a chilling effect.”
Epperson, whose attorney claimed that his actions were due to a lack of training, pleaded guilty to two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law in connection with his job as a deputy sheriff.
[Upset businesswoman fettered with handcuffs in jail on Shutterstock]