Utah Woman Finds Justice 14 Years After Childhood Sexual Abuse
MAGNA, Utah – Fourteen years later, a woman is finding justice for a crime committed against her when she was just a child.
Mariah Faulkner, now 27, said she was raped by her adoptive mother’s boyfriend in 2007 when she was 13 years old.
“I called him ‘dad,’ and so he was like my first real father figure,’” Faulkner said during an interview with KSL on Friday.
Faulkner said Jimmy Haynes would try to be the “fun dad,” but the trust she had in him was completely violated.
“He would just kind of cross the lines when he tickled and just little things that I didn’t realize at first,” Faulkner said. “When it happened, it was kind of like all those little red flags went off in my head.”
Court documents describe the rape that occurred — details Faulkner kept secret up until a therapy session in 2009 when she was back in foster care.
“Even after he raped me, he would still do nice things for me or be nice to me,” Faulkner said. “You feel like this is all your fault and it’s embarrassing and you don’t want people to know what happened to you.”
Faulkner said though there was mandatory reporting related to the therapy session disclosure in 2009, she ultimately decided to go to police and prosecutors with her story in 2014.
“I’m sad to say there was a prosecutor in this office who didn’t think that it could be done,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, who noted that the prosecutor no longer worked for his office.
Last year, Faulkner said she spotted Haynes and found out he once again was living in close proximity to her.
That prompted her to retain a private investigator and take a second look at bringing the case before prosecutors with some additional evidence.
“This victim, who was incredible with her experience, was very compelling,” Gill said.
Haynes was charged on Nov. 10 with one count of rape of a child, three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and a count of sodomy upon a child, all first-degree felonies.
On Mar. 17, a jury convicted Haynes on all counts.
“I felt very justified in court and hearing, you know, Donna Kelly, my (prosecutor),” Faulkner said. “For her to just talk about how it wasn’t my fault and these things that he did, the control he had over me and how he abused it — it was really empowering for her to tell my story.”
Gill said over the years, his office has had a “paradigm shift” toward contacts like Faulkner’s, ensuring prosecutors offer an open ear and support.
He said it’s important that people are not revictimized during the legal process.
“The message we want to be able to send is that you are seen, you are heard, you are cared for and you are not alone,” Gill said.
Haynes is scheduled to be sentenced in May.
Faulkner acknowledged it would have been difficult to come forward about the abuse when she was 13, 16 or even 21 years old.
“This was hard,” Faulkner acknowledged.
She hoped sharing her story would empower others who have survived similar situations to report to police.
“It isn’t ever too late to come forward, as you can see — you know, 14 years later,” Faulkner said. “It really gave me faith in the justice system again that there’s people out there who care and who are fighting for you and who continue to fight with you.”
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