Victim: Prosecutor Was Like a Hero, Then He Raped Me

Terry Mitchell opens up about alleged assault
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2016 7:27 AM CDT
Updated Apr 2, 2016 11:40 AM CDT
Victim: Prosecutor Was Like a Hero, Then He Raped Me
A 2008 file photo shows longtime federal judge Richard W. Roberts.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Terry Mitchell was already a victim of child sex abuse when she was raped at knife-point in June 1980. Two months later, the 16-year-old was jogging with two black friends in Salt Lake City when they were gunned down by a white supremacist. "After the shootings, I was like a ghost of a human being," Mitchell, who became a key witness in the case, tells the Guardian. But federal prosecutor Richard Roberts "seemed like a superhero," she adds. "I had thought he was going to be the person who made everything OK." Instead, the 28-year-old called her to his office, drove her to his hotel when Mitchell asked for a ride home, insisted she come into his room, locked the door, and raped her, a $25 million lawsuit alleges. He then continued to rape Mitchell over the next few weeks as the trial progressed, telling her there would be a mistrial if anyone found out, per the suit.

When Roberts left Utah after Joseph Paul Franklin was convicted, Mitchell says she was left battling depression, PTSD, anorexia, and night terrors. "I was coping pretty well, considering, up until he came into my life," she says. "Then he derailed it." Mitchell says she repressed all memories of the rapes until Roberts—until recently the chief US district judge in Washington, DC—sent her an email in 2013. He admitted to a sexual relationship in a phone call, which Mitchell recorded and turned over to authorities. An attorney general's investigation found there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute Roberts, who abruptly retired when the lawsuit was announced and says the sex occurred after the trial and was consensual. However, a chief deputy attorney says ethics violations mean "something is going to happen [to Roberts] and it is not going to be pleasant." Mitchell hopes to see Roberts impeached. (Click for more on the case.)

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