Woman suing former police officer for rape holds press conference

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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Shauna Blue says she has attempted to take her own life twice — ending up in a coma on one attempt — since she was allegedly raped by an on-duty Cottonwood Heights police officer.

Because of the embarrassment it would cause, Blue didn't tell anyone about the alleged attack for three weeks, and even after an investigation by law enforcement, was still hesitant for many months about going public with what happened.

But after some counseling, Blue said she decided to step into the public eye with her story.

"This to me, what I'm doing, I think will comfort me and empower me," Blue said. "It's hard to do now ...but I have to speak up for what happened."

Thursday, sitting with her husband, Ben Blue, 50, she made her first public comments regarding a civil lawsuit filed against former Cottonwood Heights police officer Jeremy Lamph. The suit also names the city of Cottonwood Heights and Police Chief Robby Russo.

"I don't think a person would make this up, expose themself to this type of criticism she's going to get ... without having a really good reason to do it," her attorney Robert Sykes said.

This to me, what I'm doing, I think will comfort me and empower me. It's hard to do now ...but I have to speak up for what happened.

–- Shauna Blue

But Lamph's attorney, Greg Skordas, said Thursday the suit lacks any credibility.

"He was fully investigated by an independent law enforcement agency. It went through the district attorney's office. Nothing was filed," he said. "It's a completely meritless lawsuit."

In her lawsuit, Shauna Blue, 48, said she became intoxicated at a family wedding on July 17, 2010. When she got home, she got into an argument with her husband, who had not been drinking, for falling off the wagon.

The argument was loud enough that a relative who was staying with the couple called police. But the Blues contend it was over and done with quickly and only voices were raised. The minor injuries each person sustained came from their three large dogs that became upset and tried to bite them during their argument, the Blues said.

When police arrived, officers told the couple they had to be separated, according to the lawsuit. Ben Blue was charged with misdemeanor assault, but court records indicate the case was later dismissed.

Although Shauna Blue was intoxicated, she said she volunteered to be the one who left the house because her husband had to take care of family members who were staying with them.

That's when Blue said Lamph, 37, took her to a motel. The officer later returned to the hotel saying he needed to take pictures of her injuries. At that time, she claims in her lawsuit that he raped her in her room.

After Lamph left, he continued to send Blue text messages, she said.

"I got a text message that said, 'No victim, no crime,'" Blue said. "Reminding me to keep it a secret. ... I don't know what his motive was. I took it as kind of a threat."

Blue said she was scared, felt like she was a "prisoner in jail" and that "he was in control of me."

After three weeks, Blue said she told her husband what had happened. He said he immediately went to police. Not long after an investigation was launched, Lamph resigned from the department.

"He resigned his job, he lawyered up. ... An innocent person doesn't resign and doesn't lawyer up," Shauna Blue said.

We reached a conclusion based on the evidence given to us. We did not feel there was a reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial,

–Sam Gill, SLC DA

The incident was also set to be reviewed by Utah Peace Officers Standards and Training. But Lamph voluntarily resigned his POST certification before a full hearing was held.

Skordas said his client had been with the department for less than six months at that point and was still on standard probation for new hires. Figuring he wouldn't be kept after six months with the allegation hanging over his head, Lamph opted to voluntarily leave the department, Skordas said. If he had been a merit employee, Skordas said he would have advised Lamph not to resign.

As for voluntarily resigning his POST certification, Skordas said he wasn't sure of his client's reasons.

Sandy police investigated the incident, and the Blues say Shauna Blue passed a lie detector test. The Blues said the case was handed over to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office with a recommendation for criminal charges.

The district attorney's office, however, declined to file charges in March, citing evidentiary concerns.

"We reached a conclusion based on the evidence given to us," Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said. Because of corroboration issues, he said his office did not feel it would be able to meet their burden of proof in court and get a conviction.

"We did not feel there was a reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial," he said, adding that his decision not to pursue criminal charges should not be a commentary on the validity of the civil suit.

Before Cottonwood Heights, Lamph worked for Adult Probation and Parole from 2006-2009. Before that, he was a deputy in Carbon County.

The Blues contend Lamph resigned from AP&P for "boundary violations," which Shauna Blue said she took to meant sexual violations. Because of that, the lawsuit contends Cottonwood Heights should have known about Lamph's history and never hired him or sent him "out into the public where he could violate someone else's boundaries," Blue said.

A spokesman with the Utah Department of Corrections said Thursday to the best of their knowledge, Lamph simply left because he got another offer.

The Cottonwood Heights Police Department declined comment on the case Thursday.

Shana Blue's lawsuit is the second civil suit she is currently involved with. She also has a civil lawsuit filed against MGM Resorts in Las Vegas claiming negligence after allegedly slipping in a bathroom at the Monte Carlo Resort on her wedding night. That case is scheduled to go to try in July of 2012.

Written by Pat Reavy with contributions from Courtney Orton.

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