Utah family gets ‘a measure of justice’ in 50-year-old rape case

Dec 6, 2022, 7:08 PM | Updated: 7:40 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah family, waiting for justice from a rape case for more than 50 years, finally got to tell their story Tuesday.

The story dates back to 1968, when Valarie Clark Miller’s family said she was raped by three men over the course of two years in Clarkston. A private investigation backs that up. Her husband shared their story after finally receiving acknowledgment from the state for what happened.

“The first savage attack took place in the loft of a neighborhood barn, into which 13-year-old Valarie was lured, with the expectation of seeing newborn kittens,” Richard Lambert, a cold case investigator and former federal prosecutor hired by the family, said.

Valarie never reported the repeated rapes in 1968 because the three men, including Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Robert Dahle, threatened to kill her.

She was subjected to being raped by the men repeatedly over two years. She was only able to make it stop after telling them that she was pregnant, which she was not.

Two decades later, married with four kids, Valarie’s emotional turmoil surfaced. She got counseling and reported the crime.

An internal investigation by the Department of Public Safety in 1990 did not produce criminal charges, and the family was dejected.

“To Valarie, it turned out, just as Dahle had told her, no one will ever believe you anyway,” Lambert said.

Valarie died several years ago at age 61, but two years ago, private investigators hired by the family discovered the state had intentionally covered up the crime, and lied in that investigation 30 years ago.

In 2021, the family filed a Notice of Claim. They wanted an acknowledgment from the state about what had happened. On Monday, they got that letter of apology from the Department of Public Safety.

“Valarie was a courageous woman, and to finally get to the truth and to the bottom is gratifying and provides a measure of healing and closure,” said John Miller, Valarie’s husband.

Due to the age of the alleged crimes, DPS cannot prove that crimes did or did not happen. But Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson stated that:

Because of the seriousness of the matter, I directed my office, the Utah Department of Public Safety, in cooperation with the Utah Attorney General’s Office, to undertake a thorough investigation into your allegations. My Department has interviewed scores of witnesses over several months. Based on that thorough investigation, I have concluded that the factual allegations you raise in your Notice of Claim and subsequent communications about DPS actions in 1990 rest on a foundation of extensive and disturbing evidence.

While it unfortunately appears that there is no legal recourse that I can take to right the wrong that was done to Mr. and Mrs. Miller more than three decades ago, the least I can do is to express my deep regret to John R. Miller and family members of Valarie Clark Miller (now deceased) for the emotional distress suffered by Mrs. Miller, Mr. Miller, and the family as a result of the actions described in your Notice of Claim.

“They didn’t use the word cover-up or obstruction of justice, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” Lambert said. “It’s pretty clear when you read the letter that Jess Anderson and others felt terrible about the whole situation and were willing to stand up and do something about it.”

Robert Dahle, former UHP trooper, died earlier this year. One of the other men is also dead, and the third is in jail in Colorado on unrelated charges.

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Utah family gets ‘a measure of justice’ in 50-year-old rape case