For the first time since her young teen daughter was sexually abused by a co-worker at a haunted house two and a half years ago, Jaime finally sees a little hope.

Shawn Derrick Green, 35, pleaded guilty earlier this month to forcible sexual abuse of the 14-year-old girl and will be sentenced on July 6.

For Jamie, who asked that her last name not be used to protect the identity of her daughter, the guilty plea and sentencing will help her and her daughter gain a sense of closure.

But the damage has already been done. In part, because the abuse happened back in 2020.

"He was able to go on living normally for (nearly) three years. Some days my daughter struggled with thoughts of some the worst things imaginable to a mother. It hurts so much to hear those words come out of her mouth. Having to drop your child off at the hospital because she just gave up on life," Jamie recalled. "While he was ringing in the new year, my daughter was sitting in a hospital struggling to understand what he did to her, thinking it was her fault because he made her believe that.

"It's been really frustrating because it feels like the whole time, everything has been for the perpetrator. It's always, 'We want to make sure his rights are OK. We don't want to interfere with his rights.' And, 'We're going to reschedule (a court date) because of his rights.' And there's never any talk about the victim's rights. And you just have to wait," she said.

Between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, 2020, Green worked at a haunted house in Draper with the girl who was 14. Police say the two became friends and the girl would sometimes get a ride to work with Green. But Green became "touchy" with her while at work and would hug her from behind and kiss her cheek and neck, charging documents state.

He was also accused of inappropriately touching the girl while she was at his home in Sandy. "(The girl) stated that she was afraid that if she said no, Green would hurt her," the charges state.

"It was her first job. She loved Halloween more than anything and she was so excited to work in a real haunted house. Little did we know that real monsters were inside that haunted house and they found her," her mother said.

Green was charged in August of 2021. But that was also during the COVID-19 pandemic when Utah courtrooms shut down and cases became backed up. According to court records, after Green's initial appearance on Oct. 8, 2021, several scheduling conferences were cancelled or continued for various reasons, until one was finally held on Feb. 1, 2022. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for March 3, 2022. But after more delays and continuations of the pre-trial conference, a trial date wasn't set until May 3 — more than a year after the original preliminary hearing was scheduled. A plea deal was reached on May 2.

In the meantime, Jamie says her daughter's, and her own, mental health suffered.

While waiting for the case to slowly proceed, Jamie said her daughter was "under extreme anxiety, she doesn't sleep, she stresses about this all the time. She's not happy. She changed.

"She went through a severe depressive episode where she was hospitalized," her mother continued. "She didn't care if she lived or died and didn't really care about anything. And during that time, her physical and her hygiene suffered. As a consequence, we not only had mental health bills but dental bills ... because the trauma has become so unbelievably hard."

On top of all that, Jamie says she couldn't find proper mental health care for her daughter.

Jamie pulls on her ring as she talks about her daughter's case as she poses for photos in Salt Lake County on Friday.
Jamie pulls on her ring as she talks about her daughter's case as she poses for photos in Salt Lake County on Friday. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

"Most of the places for mental health have a waiting list or they don't accept my personal insurance because they have to accept that before they'll take the crime victim's insurance. So finding someplace that will accept both can be difficult," she said. "Finding a provider who will take your personal insurance as well as Crime Victims Reparations is unbelievably hard. Either they have a wait list that is forever long, they don't accept my insurance or they no longer accept CVR."

Jamie is told that if her daughter becomes a danger to herself that she can take her to the emergency room.

"And I'm trying to stop that from happening, but I can't because I can only afford so much out of pocket," the mother says.

To date, she has spent about $3,000 out of pocket for mental health treatment and $4,500 for dental care.

"My daughter was hospitalized with depression and she ended up not caring about her dental hygiene to the point of teeth crumbling out of her mouth. I even have a note from the dentist stating that her depression played a major role in her teeth deteriorating," she said.

Jamie hopes that by sharing her story, more will be done to help the victims of crimes, like her daughter, who need to find therapy that's affordable and mental health counseling that doesn't have a monthslong waiting list.

"I think there's just not enough help out there," she said.

Green pleaded guilty to forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony, as part of a plea deal. In exchange, two other identical counts and a charge of dealing in harmful materials to a minor, a third-degree felony, were dropped.

$20 per victim?

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill agreed that until this past legislative session, the state was not investing nearly enough in victims, particularly victims of sexual assault.

A little over a year ago, the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee assigned a team of experts to review statewide victim services and discuss ways to improve services to victims and families.

"Overall, Utah has not provided adequate levels of service for victims or survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault," states the Utah Victim Services Overview Report that was presented to the subcommittee in May 2022. "In addition, not all victims have access to services and are unable to obtain the necessary support.

"When a person is raped or sexually assaulted, they are not only victimized by the assault itself, but they are also thrown into a world of services and providers that is extremely complex," the report says.

The report found that victims of sexual assault and domestic violence comprise the majority of victims served by the state. Gill noted that even though annual crime reports will sometimes show various types of crimes declining, sexual assault is one area that remains consistently high.

At the time the report was compiled, the average cost to help one victim of sexual assault in Utah was a little under $5,100. Yet, the report found that the state was contributing just $20 to help per victim.

"This cost is determined based on 15,000 adult victims of sexual assault currently receiving victim services in Utah, the majority of which are funded with federal dollars. Utah is currently providing $290,000 in state funds to sexual assault victims which equates to $20/victim," the report states.

The report notes that "funding for sexual assault services in Utah has relied heavily upon grass roots advocacy and private funding for decades. Historically, state general funds have not been allocated to specifically support community-based sexual assault services," and federal funding to help nonprofits with domestic violence and sexual assault programs is rapidly decreasing.

But Gill is optimistic that that is all changing.

He says it's because of those types of issues that he created the Victim Support Services Division in his office. Furthermore, lawmakers passed HB244 during the last session to address victim needs and help coordinate between state and local agencies.

Jamie poses for photos in Salt Lake County on Friday.
Jamie poses for photos in Salt Lake County on Friday. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Jamie says the crime advocate assigned to her daughter's case helped their family, as well as when deputy district attorney Jennifer Zeleny was assigned to the case. But one of the family's biggest supporters came from the Bikers Against Child Abuse organization, of which Jamie gives high praise.

Today, Jamie says her daughter is starting to show signs of improvement.

"She's slowly getting better. She is able to work. She has been able to go back to doing what she loved, which is Halloween. Obviously at a different establishment," her mother said.

But she hopes the state will continue to take more steps into help the victims of sexual assault.

"The state definitely needs to realize the need for assistance to crime victims. They need to put more money into funding and grants for those families who are unable to afford it," she said.

"We need to care more about the victims rather than the monsters. When do we protect the littlest victims?"