SALT LAKE CITY — Calling his crimes “a mother’s worst nightmare,” a judge on Monday sentenced a parolee to at least 20 years and up to life in the kidnapping and sexual assault of a girl who was walking home from school when he forced her into his car at knifepoint in January.
Third District Judge Paul Parker said society and the 15-year-old girl must be shielded from Creed Cole Lujan, 44, until he gets the clarity and treatment he needs.
“She needs to know that she is protected from you,” Parker said of the teenager.
Lujan, of West Valley City, pleaded guilty in May to charges of aggravated kidnapping and forcible sodomy, both first-degree felonies. In exchange for his guilty pleas, eight other felony charges he faced were dismissed.
A stranger to the girl, Lujan had been driving nearby when the teen was walking home from Hunter High School on Jan. 27, police said. He pulled over, brandished a knife and threatened to kill her if she did not get in his car. Then he put duct tape over her mouth, bound her hands and feet, and drove her to his home, court documents say.
Lujan had the girl take three pills to “relax” her, promising to let her go by 3 p.m. if she took them, prosecutors said. After assaulting her, police said he told her that he has cancer and hopes God will forgive him. He later drove the teenager to a bus stop and let her out.
The girl’s mother said Monday through tears that her daughter was waiting at home to hear what her attacker’s sentence would be.
“My daughter is 15 years old and has to grow up with this for the rest of her life, knowing this man could possibly get out again,” she said as she sobbed. “It’s just not right.”
KSL is not publishing the woman’s name to avoid identifying her daughter.
Her mother had called police that afternoon to report her daughter missing and tracked the girl’s cellphone to the middle of a road in West Valley City. Officers found the teenager about an hour later, crying and running frantically, court documents said.
A doorbell camera showed a vehicle pulling up with someone inside talking to the girl before she got in the car and it drove away, police said. Other cameras showed her run away after being released, and officers at other nearby schools reported surveillance video showed the same car could be seen circling that day.
Deputy Salt Lake County District Attorney Tony Graf noted Lujan was on parole at the time of the attack. Graf argued that consecutive sentences fit the nightmarish attack.
Lujan had pleaded guilty to attempted murder in 2009 after police said he tried to kill a hotel housekeeper at the Crystal Inn in West Valley City by grabbing her neck and choking her until she was unconscious. He was ordered to serve three years to life in the Utah State Prison and was released on parole in January 2015.
Lujan, appearing over video from the Utah State Prison in an orange jumpsuit with a face mask around his neck, wiped away tears as he apologized to the girl and her family. He said that he knows he can be rehabilitated.
My daughter is 15 years old and has to grow up with this for the rest of her life, knowing this man could possibly get out again. It’s just not right.
–Mother of girl who was attacked by Creed Lujan
“I pray every day multiple times that the victim is able to recover from what has happened,” he said. “I know that I have had a negative impact on her life in the worst way possible.”
Defense attorney Michael Colby argued unsuccessfully for concurrent sentences — meaning they would run at the same time — and a 10-year minimum for the kidnapping charge instead of 15. Colby said his client has “always been extremely remorseful” and wanted to take responsibility.
When Lujan was a child, his alcoholic stepfather abused him physically and emotionally, contributing to Lujan’s mental health issues, Colby said. He did not give details on his client’s mental illness.
Lujan did well in his adult life until he was prescribed painkillers for injuries, playing a role in his crimes, but his client is not “purely evil,” Colby said. While his client’s actions were outrageous and unacceptable, he said, Lujan has the ability to become a better person.
Parker noted Lujan eventually let the girl go, saying he is not evil or a “monster.”
But Lujan’s “terrible” actions that day followed the earlier violent case and looked to be premeditated: Lujan was prepared with a knife, duct tape, other materials and had pills he used to victimize the teenager.
“The state mentioned that this was a mother’s worst nightmare,” Parker said. “It truly was.”
Parker ordered Lujan to consecutive terms of 15 years and up to life in the Utah State Prison for the aggravated kidnapping charge and five years to life for the forcible sodomy charge.