How one woman sued her childhood sexual abuser years later — and won — thanks to a change in Utah law
Salt Lake Tribune
When Ginger Utley was 22, she wasn’t ready to sue the man who had sexually abused her for years when she was a teenager. So she missed the deadline set by Utah law, which had required her to file her claims within four years after her 18th birthday.
But last year, Utah legislators gave abuse victims a new chance — opening a three-year window of opportunity, and even longer in some cases, to bring lawsuits that had been considered too late to file.
That changed everything for Utley.
Now 42, the Salt Lake City woman filed a civil action a month after the law took effect — and won a settlement.
“I felt like I had been given a second chance to do what I couldn’t do before,” she said in a recent interview. “… At 22, there was no possible way I was ready for that or even considered it at that time. For the next 20 years, I thought, ‘How am I going to do something? He got away with something horrible.’ So when this law passed, it meant everything.”
In 2015, Utah lawmakers had erased the deadline for filing lawsuits that allege more recent childhood abuse. But older cases like Utley’s were still blocked.
Utley now wants to spread awareness about the newer change, so others who were abused years ago as children know the option is available.
‘Nobody did anything’
It was 1989 when Utley’s neighbor and Sunday school teacher, Jesus “Jess” Hurtado, first kissed her. She was 13 years old and at the Hurtado home baby-sitting his children, according to a 1993 American Fork police report.
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