Valarie Clark Miller was sexually assaulted by a Utah highway trooper starting in the late 1960s when she was a teenager, a trauma that devastated her for the rest of her life, her family alleged in a notice of plans to sue the state, reports the Washington Post. When Miller and her husband asked the Utah Department of Public Safety for an investigation in 1990, it failed to do so and did not take action against the trooper. The Miller family and their legal team said they were going public with Valarie’s name and case in hopes that sharing her story would help other sexual assault victims. Utah’s public safety commissioner sent a letter to the Miller family Dec. 5 expressing “deep regret” for their pain and suffering, writing that their allegations were “factual” and “rest on a foundation of extensive and disturbing evidence.” Jess Anderson conceded there was “no legal recourse” to “right the wrong” done to the Millers. When they first came forward in 1990, the statute of limitations in Valarie’s case had passed, though Utah has since lifted the reporting deadline for sex crimes.
The trooper whom Valarie accused of abuse died this year. Anderson said his department would consult with an independent agency to review its internal investigation policies to help prevent similar failures. After receiving the letter, the Millers agreed to not sue. The apology provided what the family had sought for decades — closure. “This whole thing has been about clearing her name,” said Ryan Miller, Valarie’s son, noting that rumors about the case had sullied his mother’s reputation in Clarkston, a small town where not everyone believed her allegations. Valarie Miller died in 2017 from complications of multiple sclerosis. Late in her life, she confided in her family that she had been raped by the trooper, whom she first encountered through a relative, between 1968 and 1970, starting when she was 13 years old. The trooper used his “position of authority” to intimidate her and made threats to hurt Valarie or her family if she told anyone about the abuse. When she tried to end the assaults by telling the officer she was pregnant, he beat her and tried to drown her in a reservoir. Throughout her life, Valarie was plagued with flashbacks to the abuse she faced. As an adult, she started having panic attacks and had trouble eating, and attempted suicide multiple times.