Alicia Koehler just required her scenario to go to trial. She had been stalked for years, she advised police. She essential a jury to decide if the person she had briefly dated was guilty and would confront outcomes.
But when she satisfied with Utah County Legal professional David Leavitt in July 2020, he urged that they check out and take care of the scenario without having a conviction, in accordance to a lawsuit submitted in federal court docket Tuesday. He considered it would be very best for her, he informed her, so that she could go on.
There was a second in that meeting, she afterwards recalled, that manufactured her truly feel unwell to her belly: Leavitt disclosed that the accused stalker had donated to his campaign for legal professional general. The gentleman experienced also long gone on a church mission with Leavitt’s brother, the county lawyer stated.
“I was thrown off guard a little bit,” she reported in an job interview. “I did not experience like he was on my facet.”
Leavitt finished up dismissing the third-degree felony circumstance in opposition to the man Koehler accused, however it was refiled a yr later. The grievance submitted Tuesday accuses Leavitt of participating in “illegal, discriminatory and abhorrent conduct” to reward a political donor and household pal.
Leavitt, who has served as the Utah County lawyer considering that 2019, instructed The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday that he does not consider he did just about anything poor, noting that the marketing campaign donation from the guy was much less than $50.
“You’ve acquired to use your common perception right here,” he mentioned. “If term gets out you can conflict an intense prosecutor out of a case for $50, you will have absolutely everyone and their doggy donating $50.”
Koehler’s legal professional is now inquiring a federal decide to ban the Utah County Attorney’s Office environment from handling the situation.
“Stalking victims need to have to be taken very seriously and their basic safety really should be prioritized,” Koehler’s lawyer, Michael Young, reported. “Failure to do so is a breach of general public rely on and a basic failure for a single holding community business.”
The lawsuit revolves about a legal circumstance involving a gentleman whom Koehler experienced secured a stalking injunction from in 2016.
Utah County prosecutors alleged three a long time afterwards that the male had violated that injunction, and he was charged with a 3rd-diploma felony. Courtroom documents demonstrate the person sent an unsolicited electronic mail to Koehler in December 2018, which included excerpts such as, “very tricky for me to comprehend how tricky you have been on me … You have manufactured me out to be the demon … Why you have despised me and ruined my hope for happiness, not known.”
Prosecutors observed at the time that he went to football video games that Koehler attended with her spouse and children — regardless of Koehler telling him that she did not want him there. He observed out wherever she lived, prosecutors alleged, and despatched her undesired items on quite a few instances.
Lance Bastian was the initially assigned to prosecute the stalking circumstance. He recalled Tuesday that the suspect and his defense attorney satisfied with him after, toting a big suitcase full of binders. The defendant informed him there was far more to their marriage than Koehler experienced permit on.
Bastian stated he wasn’t swayed by the conference.
“I just saved indicating, ‘If you didn’t imagine the injunction was legitimate, you really should have challenged it,’” he reported, “‘not violated it.’”
Before long immediately after that meeting, Bastian said Leavitt identified as him into his office and handed him a binder of elements to overview for the situation, inquiring him to see if what was inside of adjusted his mind about prosecuting it.
Leavitt reported the binder experienced occur from his brother, who had served a mission with the defendant. Leavitt hadn’t read through it, he claimed, but handed it on to Bastian to critique.
The products inside seemed to have been prepared by the defendant, Bastian claimed. They bundled “self-serving statements,” descriptions of the man’s partnership with Koehler and some legislation enforcement documents.
Once Bastian reviewed the components, he instructed Leavitt he nevertheless felt the case was strong and should really be prosecuted.
“Well, that staying the scenario, I’m heading to go ahead and assign it to myself,” Bastian recalled Leavitt expressing.
“It was extremely strange for him to choose on a circumstance like this,” Bastian mentioned in an interview. “He did not have any variety of typical caseload.”
Leavitt claimed he took the situation on due to the fact he was involved about the defendant posting damaging remarks about Koehler on the net. He said he from time to time receives concerned in circumstances that his office environment prosecutes if a citizen provides up issues about them. In this scenario, he reported he read from his brother, the Utah County sheriff and the man’s protection attorney.
He included: “I did not order Lance Bastian to get rid of the circumstance.”
Bastian was under no circumstances concerned in the scenario once more, he mentioned. As the months went by, he would sometimes glimpse it up, expecting it to be dismissed.
“That was obviously what he preferred me to do with it,” Bastian reported. “He wanted me to dismiss it and I did not really feel I experienced any foundation to dismiss.”
Bastian remaining the Utah County Attorney’s Office environment in August 2020, in component for the reason that of the way Koehler’s situation was dealt with, he said. He experienced prosecuted sexual intercourse crimes, and claimed he also opposed a selection Leavitt built to blend considerably less-expert prosecutors into the particular victims unit who did not want the occupation.
“I was a profession prosecutor,” Bastian explained. “And I probably would have stayed there my complete profession but for David Leavitt coming in.”
A recorded assembly
Koehler discovered out through a sufferer advocate that Leavitt experienced taken about the stalking case. She recalled in an interview that she quickly felt anxious, noting that she had observed her accused stalker put up reviews on Leavitt’s Fb webpage in assist of the county attorney’s reform policies.
So Koehler fulfilled with Leavitt in July 2020. And she recorded their conversation in his office.
In accordance to that recording, Leavitt began their discussion by telling Koehler that he “took” the scenario from Bastian, “because each time I transform about, I’m receiving bombarded by somebody with this situation.”
Koehler expressed her apprehension, bringing up the defendant’s posts on Leavitt’s Fb website page.
“I’m just expressing he is a enormous supporter of you and supporter,” Koehler explained to Leavitt, according to the recording. “This is quite concerning to me.”
In response, Leavitt explained that when he was the Juab County Lawyer, he prosecuted men and women whose residence neighbored his and introduced scenarios versus other people who held outstanding positions in his ward within just The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When Koehler reiterated her concern, Leavitt explained to her that if he prosecuted his political opponents, “they would also say that is a conflict of desire.”
“It’s just — it is what it is,” he explained to her.
Later on, Leavitt can be listened to indicating that the alleged stalker donated $49.99 to Leavitt’s unsuccessful 2020 campaign for legal professional typical and informed her that the gentleman had also accompanied his brother on a church mission.
“I obtained nothing at all to hide in this article,” he claimed.
Leavitt at the time went on to stage out that using the situation to trial would get longer than usual, simply because jury trials had been put on maintain owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. That hold off could perform as an advantage in persuading the defendant to come to an agreement, he stated.
“What I’m trying to do is put together a thing that presents you the finest achievable state of affairs,” he stated. “A everyday living that doesn’t require that.”
Leavitt also recommended dropping the felony cost in opposition to the person on the affliction that he would be barred from making contact with Koehler or speaking about her on the net. If the male ever did, prosecutors would refile the case, he said.
Koehler was not convinced that Leavitt was authentic, she explained to The Tribune.
“I didn’t come to feel at any time that he was wanting out for my finest passions,” she claimed. “Period.”
Afterwards that very same working day, Koehler emailed Leavitt, sharing that she felt ambushed in their assembly and wished to see any proposed resolution in composing just before she agreed to it.
“You do have a link,” she wrote to Leavitt. “There’s way also quite a few coincidences that set you in excess of this circumstance, at a time when he was only publishing about you and your reforms in the justice technique. So my concern to you is … does this deal benefit you? Or me?”
Leavitt never ever responded to her electronic mail, in accordance to Koehler’s lawsuit. But they did continue speaking around textual content.
That August, Koehler despatched Leavitt screenshots of her alleged stalker again publishing supportive messages on Leavitt’s Facebook web page. The lawsuit alleges Leavitt responded, again detailing the offer he wanted to give, this time noting that the defendant had dropped off “evidence” and questioned that Koehler be prosecuted as a substitute.
Koehler’s attorney alleged this was manipulation — a transfer done to persuade her into believing that a jury trial would not be in her most effective interest.
Two months later, in October, Leavitt went to courtroom and requested for the criminal circumstance to be dismissed. Notes from the court docket docket point out that the accused gentleman agreed to remain absent from Koehler and not discuss about her on a community system or on the web.
But Koehler said she was not advised there would be a listening to in the circumstance and didn’t know until months later on that it had been dismissed.
Previous August, the gentleman accused of stalking Koehler asked a choose to expunge the stalking case. Koehler’s lawyers allege in their grievance that while accomplishing so, the man accused her of “many phony factors irrelevant to the underlying stalking cost and defamatory of her character.” The man is not mentioned as a defendant in Koehler’s lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that the male made use of the expungement petition as a platform to defame and abuse her — damage that the grievance argues arrived as a outcome of Leavitt’s final decision to at first dismiss the criminal case.
“This hurt would not have happened but for Leavitt’s discriminatory guidelines of providing leniency to his male campaign donors and close friends,” the lawsuit reads.
Courtroom data show that a Utah County prosecutor refiled the criminal case in September, virtually a 12 months right after Leavitt asked for it to be dismissed.
The records documents never suggest why it was submitted all over again. Koehler’s lawsuit alleges that Leavitt experienced it refiled “after he listened to this case may well existing a problem to him in the approaching election.”
Leavitt denied that his choice was politically inspired. He mentioned his business screened the situation after the person wrote defamatory statements about Koehler in his expungement petition, which violated their arrangement that he not talk about her on a community system.
The county lawyer claimed he felt the lawsuit filed Tuesday may be politically motivated by former prosecutors, together with just one who functions for the regulation agency that filed the situation. Youthful, Koehler’s attorney, mentioned that previous prosecutor isn’t included in the lawsuit and that “was not the commitment behind” it.
Koehler reported she does not think the refiled stalking situation can be managed thoroughly less than Leavitt’s leadership, and needs the situation moved to a further county attorney’s office environment.
She also is seeking punitive monetary damages and a declaration from the choose that Leavitt’s guidelines and strategies “allow cases with feminine victims to be dismissed on illegal grounds,” which violates constitutional equivalent defense legal rights.
“The whole scenario just upsets me on just about every degree,” Koehler stated. “I can’t specific how a great deal far more revictimization this has prompted for me.”