FAILURE TO PROTECT

Rapist at the center of KSL Investigation ‘Failure to Protect’ pleads guilty

Mar 14, 2024, 10:28 PM | Updated: 10:35 pm

FARMINGTON — More than a year after the KSL Investigators revealed a failure to fully investigate two reports of rape against Joshua Homer, those cases have now led to a first-degree felony rape conviction.

Homer, 28, was charged in Second District Court with four counts of rape in May 2023 and with an additional five felony charges, including object rape and forcible sexual abuse in January 2024. The charges represented sexual assault reports made by three different women in 2020.

Thursday, Homer appeared in court from the Duchesne County Jail, where his camera didn’t function, and pleaded guilty to one count of rape. In exchange, Davis County prosecutors agreed to dismiss all the other charges.

“It should have been more”

Baylie Steed is one of the women whose report of rape led to charges against Homer. She told the KSL Investigators she had been notified about today’s scheduled hearing in the case but had no idea a plea deal had been reached.

“I was really surprised,” Steed said. “It was very unexpected, but I’m very happy that it happened. I think everybody deserves this justice, but I just think it should have been more.”

She said she has mixed feelings regarding the outcome of the case. She’s happy to see her rapist convicted, but frustrated he was allowed to plead to a single charge when two other women were also a part of the case.

“He’s guilty. There’s no question about it,” she said, “and they deserve their justice as well.”

Baylie Steed speaks with the KSL Investigators on March 14, 2024.

Baylie Steed speaks with the KSL Investigators on March 14, 2024. (Ken Fall)

In court, Judge Rita Cornish asked if there had been victim input in the plea deal. Prosecutors said yes but Steed told KSL the only time prosecutors discussed the possibility of a plea deal with her was before charges were even filed, nearly a year ago.

“He said, ‘What would you like to see happen?’, and I said, ‘I don’t want to see him get off the hook. I don’t want to see him walking free at all. I don’t think he deserves a plea deal,’” she said.

Steed said she feels blindsided by a system that already failed her in the past.

“It makes me feel unimportant in the situation, when I’m literally the reason he’s there,” she said.

A second woman who accused Homer of sexual assault in the case also confirmed to KSL that she was unaware of the plea deal.

“We all should have known what was going to happen at the hearing and none of us were told any of that,” said Steed. “That’s not fair to us.”

Utah Crime Victim Rights

The Utah Constitution and Criminal Code include fundamental rights for victims of crime. Among those is the right to be informed and given clear explanations regarding legal proceedings in their case.

“The Utah Victim Bill of Rights provides that there are certain stages of a criminal prosecution which a victim absolutely has the right to not only be made aware of but consulted about including a plea bargain,” said Greg Skordas, a long-time Utah attorney and legal expert for KSL.

Skordas explained that while victims do have the right to be informed and consulted, the ultimate decision on whether to offer a plea deal lies with prosecutors.

“Victims don’t have the right to say, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ but they do have the right to be notified of the plea arrangement and to give their opinion about it,” he said.

The KSL Investigators reached out to Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings multiple times Thursday to ask about why Steed wasn’t notified about the plea deal. He did not immediately respond.

Despite years of struggle and letdowns, Steed still encourages other survivors of sexual assault to report to police.

“My advice would be to fight for yourself because nobody is going to be able to do that for you,” she said. “When the monster behind this puts you in this position, you and that person are the only people who know what happened. You have to fight for yourself.”

Case Background

In 2020, Utah women started sharing allegations of sexual assault against Homer under the hashtag: #UtahRapists. The movement caught the attention of investigators with Utah’s State Bureau of Investigation, which confirmed it received more than 25 claims of sexual assault against Homer.

A KSL Investigation into Homer’s criminal history found reports of sexual assault spanning a decade but no prison time. He was on probation for sex crimes he committed against a 16-year-old when the KSL Investigators first reported on the allegations against him in December 2022.

Various mugshots showing Joshua Homer, obtained through public record requests.

Various mugshots showing Joshua Homer, obtained through public record requests.

The next day, he was arrested for violating his probation terms and later ordered to serve a previously suspended prison sentence.

Prosecutors in Davis County filed their case against Homer in May 2023 after a KSL Investigation prompted investigators to re-open several rape cases naming Homer.

Then, in October, Salt Lake County prosecutors filed felony rape and sodomy charges against Homer based on assaults reported to have occurred in 2014. Homer has pleaded not guilty in that case, and his next hearing in Salt Lake County is scheduled in April.

Sentencing

Homer is also due back in court next month to be sentenced in Davis County. The first-degree felony rape charge he pleaded guilty to carries a sentence of five years to life. Homer will also have to register as a sex offender.


This report is part of a series examining how apparent gaps at every level of Utah’s criminal justice system fail to protect Utahns. If you have experienced sexual violence, you can access help and resources by calling Utah’s 24-hour Sexual Violence Helpline at 1-888-421-1100. You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 for free, confidential counseling.

Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.

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Rapist at the center of KSL Investigation ‘Failure to Protect’ pleads guilty