July 2, 2022

Utah County Attorney sued right after he dismissed a stalking demand towards a political donor

Alicia Koehler just wished her situation to go to demo. She had been stalked for years, she advised police. She desired a jury to decide if the male she experienced briefly dated was guilty and would confront implications.

But when she satisfied with Utah County Attorney David Leavitt in July 2020, he urged that they attempt and resolve the situation without a conviction, in accordance to a lawsuit submitted in federal courtroom Tuesday. He believed it would be greatest for her, he informed her, so that she could move on.

There was a instant in that conference, she later on recalled, that created her really feel unwell to her stomach: Leavitt disclosed that the accused stalker experienced donated to his marketing campaign for attorney standard. The man had also absent on a church mission with Leavitt’s brother, the county lawyer said.

“I was thrown off guard a minor little bit,” she reported in an interview. “I did not really feel like he was on my aspect.”

Leavitt ended up dismissing the third-degree felony circumstance in opposition to the man Koehler accused, even though it was refiled a calendar year later on. The criticism submitted Tuesday accuses Leavitt of participating in “illegal, discriminatory and abhorrent conduct” to profit a political donor and spouse and children buddy.

Leavitt, who has served as the Utah County attorney given that 2019, informed The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday that he does not feel he did nearly anything incorrect, noting that the marketing campaign donation from the guy was considerably less than $50.

“You’ve received to use your frequent feeling right here,” he said. “If phrase will get out you can conflict an aggressive prosecutor out of a circumstance for $50, you will have anyone and their puppy donating $50.”

Koehler’s lawyer is now inquiring a federal decide to ban the Utah County Attorney’s Business from managing the case.

“Stalking victims want to be taken seriously and their protection ought to be prioritized,” Koehler’s legal professional, Michael Young, said. “Failure to do so is a breach of general public have faith in and a fundamental failure for 1 keeping community business office.”

Stalking allegations

The lawsuit revolves around a legal circumstance involving a person whom Koehler experienced secured a stalking injunction towards in 2016.

Utah County prosecutors alleged three a long time afterwards that the man had violated that injunction, and he was charged with a third-degree felony. Court documents show the male sent an unsolicited electronic mail to Koehler in December 2018, which incorporated excerpts like, “very tough for me to understand how challenging you have been on me … You have designed me out to be the demon … Why you have despised me and ruined my hope for joy, unknown.”

Prosecutors pointed out at the time that he went to soccer video games that Koehler attended with her family members — inspite of Koehler telling him that she didn’t want him there. He located out where she lived, prosecutors alleged, and sent her undesired gifts on a number of events.

Lance Bastian was the at first assigned to prosecute the stalking circumstance. He recalled Tuesday that the suspect and his defense lawyer satisfied with him once, toting a huge suitcase full of binders. The defendant advised him there was additional to their partnership than Koehler had allow on.

Bastian reported he wasn’t swayed by the meeting.

“I just saved expressing, ‘If you didn’t think the injunction was legitimate, you must have challenged it,’” he claimed, “‘not violated it.’”

Before long just after that assembly, Bastian stated Leavitt termed him into his workplace and handed him a binder of supplies to overview for the case, asking him to see if what was within transformed his mind about prosecuting it.

Leavitt stated the binder experienced come from his brother, who had served a mission with the defendant. Leavitt hadn’t read it, he reported, but passed it on to Bastian to assessment.

The materials inside of seemed to have been well prepared by the defendant, Bastian stated. They included “self-serving statements,” descriptions of the man’s relationship with Koehler and some legislation enforcement records.

Once Bastian reviewed the products, he informed Leavitt he still felt the scenario was robust and should really be prosecuted.

“Well, that becoming the circumstance, I’m heading to go ahead and assign it to myself,” Bastian recalled Leavitt stating.

“It was extremely uncommon for him to take on a situation like this,” Bastian mentioned in an job interview. “He did not carry any kind of common caseload.”

Leavitt mentioned he took the situation on due to the fact he was anxious about the defendant putting up negative remarks about Koehler on line. He mentioned he sometimes will get concerned in cases that his place of work prosecutes if a citizen delivers up considerations about them. In this scenario, he stated he listened to from his brother, the Utah County sheriff and the man’s defense lawyer.

He additional: “I did not order Lance Bastian to get rid of the scenario.”

Bastian was never ever associated in the scenario again, he said. As the months went by, he would sometimes seem it up, expecting it to be dismissed.

“That was plainly what he preferred me to do with it,” Bastian explained. “He required me to dismiss it and I did not sense I had any basis to dismiss.”

Bastian remaining the Utah County Attorney’s Office in August 2020, in element because of the way Koehler’s case was taken care of, he claimed. He had prosecuted intercourse crimes, and mentioned he also opposed a selection Leavitt produced to combine much less-knowledgeable prosecutors into the exclusive victims device who did not want the position.

“I was a job prosecutor,” Bastian explained. “And I possibly would have stayed there my full job but for David Leavitt coming in.”

A recorded assembly

Koehler identified out by means of a sufferer advocate that Leavitt had taken around the stalking circumstance. She recalled in an job interview that she straight away felt concerned, noting that she had observed her accused stalker write-up responses on Leavitt’s Fb website page in assistance of the county attorney’s reform procedures.

So Koehler achieved with Leavitt in July 2020. And she recorded their dialogue in his business.

In accordance to that recording, Leavitt started their discussion by telling Koehler that he “took” the circumstance from Bastian, “because every time I switch around, I’m obtaining bombarded by any person with this circumstance.”

Koehler expressed her apprehension, bringing up the defendant’s posts on Leavitt’s Facebook web page.

“I’m just expressing he is a massive supporter of you and admirer,” Koehler informed Leavitt, according to the recording. “This is incredibly regarding to me.”

In response, Leavitt mentioned that when he was the Juab County Legal professional, he prosecuted individuals whose residence neighbored his and brought cases from other people who held notable positions in his ward in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When Koehler reiterated her concern, Leavitt informed her that if he prosecuted his political opponents, “they would also say that’s a conflict of interest.”

“It’s just — it is what it is,” he instructed her.

Afterwards, Leavitt can be heard stating that the alleged stalker donated $49.99 toward Leavitt’s unsuccessful 2020 campaign for legal professional typical and told her that the male experienced also accompanied his brother on a church mission.

“I obtained practically nothing to cover listed here,” he said.

Leavitt at the time went on to stage out that using the circumstance to trial would acquire extended than typical, since jury trials experienced been set on hold because of to the COVID-19 pandemic. That delay could get the job done as an advantage in persuading the defendant to appear to an settlement, he explained.

“What I’m hoping to do is put collectively one thing that gives you the most effective feasible circumstance,” he said. “A lifestyle that does not contain that.”

Leavitt also suggested dropping the felony demand in opposition to the male on the affliction that he would be barred from getting in touch with Koehler or speaking about her on-line. If the gentleman at any time did, prosecutors would refile the case, he said.

Koehler was not convinced that Leavitt was authentic, she told The Tribune.

“I didn’t really feel at any time that he was on the lookout out for my finest interests,” she reported. “Period.”

Later on that similar day, Koehler emailed Leavitt, sharing that she felt ambushed in their meeting and desired to see any proposed resolution in writing just before she agreed to it.

“You do have a link,” she wrote to Leavitt. “There’s way far too quite a few coincidences that put you around this circumstance, at a time when he was only putting up about you and your reforms in the justice method. So my dilemma to you is … does this deal benefit you? Or me?”

Circumstance dismissal

Leavitt never responded to her e-mail, in accordance to Koehler’s lawsuit. But they did keep on communicating in excess of text.

That August, Koehler despatched Leavitt screenshots of her alleged stalker all over again putting up supportive messages on Leavitt’s Fb website page. The lawsuit alleges Leavitt responded, once again conveying the deal he desired to provide, this time noting that the defendant experienced dropped off “evidence” and asked that Koehler be prosecuted alternatively.

Koehler’s attorney alleged this was manipulation — a go done to inspire her into believing that a jury trial would not be in her greatest curiosity.

Two months afterwards, in Oct, Leavitt went to courtroom and requested for the legal scenario to be dismissed. Notes from the court docket condition that the accused person agreed to keep absent from Koehler and not talk about her on a general public system or on the internet.

But Koehler said she wasn’t explained to there would be a hearing in the case and did not know until eventually months later on that it had been dismissed.

Very last August, the gentleman accused of stalking Koehler questioned a choose to expunge the stalking scenario. Koehler’s attorneys allege in their criticism that whilst performing so, the person accused her of “many untrue matters irrelevant to the underlying stalking cost and defamatory of her character.” The guy is not detailed as a defendant in Koehler’s lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that the guy utilised the expungement petition as a platform to defame and abuse her — hurt that the criticism argues came as a final result of Leavitt’s selection to initially dismiss the legal circumstance.

“This damage would not have occurred but for Leavitt’s discriminatory guidelines of supplying leniency to his male marketing campaign donors and mates,” the lawsuit reads.

Court information display that a Utah County prosecutor refiled the prison circumstance in September, practically a 12 months following Leavitt questioned for it to be dismissed.

The records information never point out why it was filed again. Koehler’s lawsuit alleges that Leavitt experienced it refiled “after he listened to this circumstance may current a dilemma to him in the impending election.”

Leavitt denied that his selection was politically enthusiastic. He mentioned his place of work screened the scenario right after the person wrote defamatory statements about Koehler in his expungement petition, which violated their agreement that he not discuss about her on a public platform.

The county lawyer said he felt the lawsuit filed Tuesday may possibly be politically enthusiastic by former prosecutors, like a person who is effective for the legislation firm that filed the circumstance. Youthful, Koehler’s legal professional, stated that former prosecutor is not concerned in the lawsuit and that “was not the inspiration behind” it.

Koehler said she does not think the refiled stalking case can be handled appropriately below Leavitt’s leadership, and needs the scenario moved to another county attorney’s business.

She also is trying to find punitive financial damages and a declaration from the decide that Leavitt’s insurance policies and methods “allow conditions with woman victims to be dismissed on unlawful grounds,” which violates constitutional equal protection rights.

“The entire case just upsets me on each stage,” Koehler reported. “I are unable to express how a lot much more revictimization this has prompted for me.”