DUCHESNE — A judge has dismissed a sexual abuse charge against a former Union High School teacher and coach.
In April, Shawn V. Mitchell was charged in 8th District Court with one count of forcible sex abuse, a second-degree felony. The charge was dismissed June 13, according to court records.
The dismissal was ordered after defense attorney Jed Labrum presented Judge Lyle Anderson with information showing the statute of limitations barred the state from prosecuting Mitchell.
A woman came forward earlier this year and told Roosevelt police that Mitchell, 41, fondled her in October 2004 when she was under the age of 18. Mitchell was interviewed by police and corroborated the woman's account of the incident, investigators said.
On Tuesday, Duchesne County prosecutor Grant Charles said when he filed the forcible sex abuse charge against Mitchell, he believed the statute of limitations had not expired.
Closer review of state law, however, showed that the alleged abuse had to be reported within four years for the statute of limitations to extend to eight years, the prosecutor said.
If she had reported it three years and 364 days after it happened, we would have had eight years (to file charges).
"If she had reported it three years and 364 days after it happened, we would have had eight years (to file charges)," he said.
Charles added that when he initially screened the case against Mitchell, he considered filing a number of more serious charges. Those potential charges were based on other allegations the woman made against Mitchell, but the alleged acts occurred after she had turned 18, Charles said.
"Those did not end up being crimes because of her age," he said. "If she had been just a few weeks younger, they would have been and we wouldn't have had a statute of limitations issue with those charges."
After he was charged in April, Mitchell was suspended from his job at Union High School, where he taught art and coached baseball. He resigned from the Duchesne County School District a short time later.