District Attorney: Call to Action

The following was posted on One Mom's Battle on March 13th, 2023

Today, Ty and Brynlee Larson welcomed a small victory: Judge Jeffrey Pullan placed a stay on the write until the district attorney finishes the criminal investigation. The media attention is likely having a huge impact on this case. Judge Derek Pullan knows teh whole world is watching, so now the fate of Ty and Brynlee Larson rests in the hands of Salt Lake County District Attorney, Sim Gill. 

We need people to call the district attorney to demand accountability. We need people to email districtattorney@slco.org to let them know that the whole world is watching and that an army has formed around these children. We need all hands on deck, and all eyes on this situation. We need to demand a full and thorough investigation, and prosecution. We have systems in place that should be protecting the most vulnerable members of our society yet they are continuously failing.

Many moons ago, my little girl climbed into my car after parenting time with her biological father, and I immediately knew that something was wrong. Her face was red and puffy, tears streamed down as she tried to explain what had happened. My heart was pounding as a multitude of possible scenarios flashed through my mind.  

“Dad hurt my arm,” she’s stammered in between sobs. “I was taking the ornaments off the tree too fast, and he got mad.” I looked down at her arm, and there was a red mark from the assault. I reflected on the times he had grabbed my own arm out of anger, he wanted to let me know that he was in control. I remember feeling like a caged animal, knowing that I was powerless against him.

“Sweetie, we need to go to the police. They will help us,” I explained, as I begin to drive towards the police station. In that moment, as painful as it was to hear how distraught she was, I prayed that this would be it. The family court system and child welfare services had been letting us down for several years. Now, my ex-husband was escalating to the point of physically assaulting my little girl and there were marks.  What will it take for someone to protect my children from this monster and his family, I wondered?

At the police station, Piper gave a powerful and credible interview about the events that had transpired leading up to the assault. The police officer believed her and spoke to me privately. He told me that he needed to reach out to Seth as part of the investigation, but that he would be forwarding the case to the district attorney and recommend prosecution. He labeled it as, “assault on a minor child.”  

“Finally,” I thought. Finally, he was going to be held accountable for his actions. The next day I called the district attorney’s office and was assigned a victim witness representative. I offered to bring my daughter to their office for an interview, and I offered to give permission for them to speak to my daughter’s therapist. I explained that Piper’s therapist would be able to further explain the ongoing issues and concerns. Within a week, I was contacted by my representative who informed me that they were going to close the case.

“But… he hurt her - he assaulted her. She was at the police station within an hour of this incident happening, and there were marks. I don’t understand?” My mind was racing and I could not grasp what this woman was saying to me. They were going to close the case, but what about the police officer telling me that he was recommending prosecution?

Reflecting back to that day, I naïvely believed that systems were set up to protect children, the most vulnerable members of our society. That’s what I grew up believing, that’s what we are taught by society yet that isn’t what truly happens. Now that the naivety fog has dissipated, I see things as clear as day.

For the district attorney, it was about how many notches were etched into his prosecution belt. Prosecution records and media sensationalism is what propels their careers forward. They want cases that are high profile or, effortless slam dunks. It’s often about ego, publicity, résumé building, and future reelection. 

For some district attorneys, there is a human element that comes into play. They weigh out how strong is the evidence is, and how the victim or the child would do on the stand? Is it worth putting a child on the stand and subjecting them to more trauma through cross examination? These things are all weighed out and giving consideration. This is where the severity of the crime, or the offense comes in to play. If it is the sexual assault of a child, is the child strong enough to endure a criminal trial? The harsh reality is that we are in a system that is not trauma informed and we have judicial officers and other court professionals who remain untrained on important topics such as victim and perpetrator behaviors.

I have learned that the system is not set up to protect victims. Through lived experiences and over a decade of advocacy, I will emphatically state that perpetrator’s rights trump victims. Show me a system that is supposed to advocate for victims, and I will show you a system that acquiesces to perpetrators.

The district attorney is an elected official, we have to amplify our collective voices on behalf of Ty and Brynlee Larson. We cannot allow this system to acquiesce to a perpetrator, we must demand justice and we must demand better for our children. Being safe from abuse is a basic human right. Children's rights are human rights, let's get loud and protect these children.