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Utah State Legislature to back woman suing ex-federal judge alleging sexual assault

Terry Mitchell (FOX 13 file image)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Legislature is wading into a lawsuit filed by a woman against a federal judge, accusing him of sexual assault.

The Utah State Legislature’s Management Committee voted last week to file a “friend of the court” brief in support of Terry Mitchell’s lawsuit against Richard Roberts, who was the former chief judge in Washington D.C.’s U.S. District Court

A motion filed with the Utah Supreme Court indicates the legislature seeks to weigh in on whether they can remove a previously time-barred claim.

Mitchell is suing Roberts, accusing him of sexually assaulting her when she was a 16-year-old witness in the high-profile Utah murder trial of Joseph Paul Franklin. Roberts was a prosecutor on the case. He retired as a federal judge the day she filed a $25 million lawsuit against him.

Roberts has acknowledged a relationship, but has said through his attorneys he intends to defend against the sexual assault allegations. His attorneys have sought to dismiss the case, arguing the statute of limitations for such lawsuits has expired. Mitchell’s lawyer, Rocky Anderson, has sought to use a law passed by the legislature in 2016 that removes some of the barriers on statutes of limitations in sex abuse lawsuits.

The Utah State Legislature’s motion with the Utah Supreme Court indicates that lawmakers are in support of Mitchell’s position.