LOCAL NEWS

Woman shares story of singles party sexual assault as attacker faces prison

Sep 28, 2023, 11:26 PM | Updated: 11:34 pm

FRUIT HEIGHTS — As a businessman and singles group organizer faces his next sentencing, a woman who came forward about a sexual assault at a Davis County singles party last year shared her story publicly for the first time Thursday.

Kevin Linford was sentenced this month to 5 years-to-life in prison after pleading guilty to charges of 1st degree felony rape, 1st degree felony attempted object rape and 2nd degree felony forcible sexual abuse.

Eight other charges against Linford were dismissed with prejudice, which means the case cannot be retried.

The charges stemmed from accusations made by five women at the singles party on Aug. 6, 2022 at a Fruit Heights home.

Amy Barlow was one of those women and she told KSL 5 she was helping to chaperone her neighbor’s event when she had an unnerving encounter with a stranger.

“I was coming down the stairs and that was the first time he kind of grabbed my hand and just placed it,” Barlow said of the man later identified as Linford. “I just kind of grabbed my hand away and walked off and just thought, ‘ewww.’”

She said Linford later grew even more aggressive toward her by the pool.

“He just gently, like, grabbed my feet and I’m going, ‘okay, I’m going in the pool, this is happening, that’s okay, whatever’—I’m in my dress,” Barlow recalled. “So I’m trying to pull my dress down with the water which is not working very well and then it was the second time he grabbed my hand and, you know, forced me to touch him and so at that point I turned my back—and there were several people in the pool, by the way, there were probably 10 or 15 people in the pool—and as I turned around, that’s when the assault happened.”

Barlow said words initially escaped her, but she was finally able to scream and get away and others came to her aid.

“It’s very brazen,” Barlow said. “He had no fear, he just like went for it.”

It was only afterward that Barlow learned she wasn’t the only one.

“Some of the other girls came up and started confiding in me about what had happened to them,” Barlow said. “At that point I realized, okay, this is bigger than I could even imagine.”

Barlow described a difficult process for her and the other women coming to terms emotionally and said some were left with deep, lasting trauma.

“It’s confusing, you don’t understand it, you start analyzing, ‘did I provoke it, did I give him any signs’—you start thinking those things and then you’re like, no, wait a minute, wait a minute—that’s completely out of left field that I would even think those thoughts, so I can see why women don’t say anything,” Barlow said of the sentencing earlier in the month. “He did apologize in court. He admitted that he was guilty, he admitted that he didn’t know us, he admitted that there was no consent, so hearing those words was a relief. Does it make it any less painful? I don’t know.”

Prosecutors in Salt Lake County charged Linford in four additional cases after more women came forward with their stories.

On Friday, Linford was facing sentencing for charges stemming from a 2016 encounter at a Salt Lake County western bar.

Barlow feared there were still women out there who had not come forward with their experiences and she hoped her story would be empowering to them.

“I worry about the other women out there who have had situations like this happen where maybe they’ve told someone and that person doesn’t really listen to them or there’s not the evidence, the video evidence that I had,” Barlow said. “This is about the other women that haven’t had a voice or haven’t said anything. We need to rally and we need to put our foot down and say, ‘this can’t happen.’”

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Woman shares story of singles party sexual assault as attacker faces prison