Growing spotlight on domestic violence as we learn more about Haight family incident

Jan 18, 2023, 6:51 PM | Updated: 7:19 pm

ENOCH, Utah — Two weeks since the tragedy in Enoch, there’s a growing spotlight on domestic violence in the community and across the state.

“It’s been a mobilization of sorts for us to be like, ‘oh my goodness how did this happen in our community?’” Kait Sorensen said.

“How are you going to show up? How is the state of Utah going to show up?”

Sorensen is the executive director of Canyon Creek Services in Cedar City. She said they’ve been helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Iron, Beaver and Garfield counties for years.

“This is the stuff that we’re doing constantly,” she said.

Since the Haight murders on January 4, she says the amount of people they’re supporting hasn’t changed, but she has seen a change in the conversation.

“People reaching out to say like, ‘I’m ready to support someone in my life who I maybe was like, ah that’s their private business,’” she said.

“We’ve seen a big change in that, which is wonderful. We need that support.”

It’s a difficult conversation to have as we learn more about what happened inside the Haight’s home in 2020, two years before police say Michael killed them.

Documents show the oldest child Macie reported her father had assaulted her multiple times, choking her at one point and shaking her at other times.

City Manager Rob Dotson sent a statement to KSL after its story aired Tuesday that said, “The Enoch City Police Department takes each report of child abuse and domestic violence seriously and thoroughly investigates each and every allegation reported.”

He said the Department of Child and Family Services gave the city information related to the allegations of abuse by Michael.

“Investigators conducted interviews with Macie Haight, Michael Haight, and Tausha Earl Haight, concerning the alleged child abuse. These interviews were conducted separately and in accordance with best practices where Macie Haight was interviewed separately at the Iron County Children’s Justice Center (“CJC”) by individuals with specialized training related to child abuse.”

Investigators reviewed the investigation with the Iron County Attorney’s office and “it was determined that this case did not meet all the elements required by statute for prosecution.”

“I don’t know if we could have in this situation, but so often, we know that we can predict and prevent so many of these tragedies if only we have the political will to do it,” said Erin Jameson, policy director at the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.

The coalition is supporting a bill to require police departments to conduct a lethality assessment (LAP), an 11-question survey designed to determine the risk of that person being killed by someone in their home.

Right now, only some police departments use LAP.

Dotson said that a lethality assessment was completed with Tausha Haight and “Her responses to the lethality assessment did not indicate a lethal relationship. However, victim services were made available to Tausha and her family for several months.”

Sorenson spoke to KSL before the release of new information surrounding the 2020 abuse allegations and was not asked to comment on them. But she hopes the conversation on domestic violence continues and will help lead to lasting change in the community.

“I would just encourage even if it gets raw and hard, keep going. Keep moving through it. Keep having those conversations because I think our families, our communities, our friends, our partners, they’re worth it.”

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Growing spotlight on domestic violence as we learn more about Haight family incident