A dozen family members came together on Tuesday, Dec. 6, in tears saying they are finally seeing some justice after decades of authorities and community members not believing Valarie Miller was a victim of sexual assault.
“It’s a measure of justice and accountability,” said John Miller, Valarie Miller’s husband.
Valarie Miller said she was sexually assaulted multiple times as a teenager by the hands of three men including a Utah Highway Patrol officer named Robert Dahle.
Her family said community members in Clarkston, Utah, never believed her.
“You can’t imagine how much it hurt to hear people [say] she was crazy,” said Debora Clark Cooper, Valarie Miller’s older sister.
Years later in 1990, after marrying John Miller and receiving therapy, they filed a complaint with the Utah Department of Public Safety.
Mitch Ingersol, the director of the internal affairs for DPS at the time, said he met with Valarie Miller’s therapist who called her schizophrenic and that Dahle had passed a lie detector test about the claims.
The DPS closed the investigation and said the allegations were not sustained.
But that did not sit right with John Miller, so he decided to take things further.
“It was really about getting to the bottom of what really happened,” John Miller said.
Valarie Miller died in 2017, but in 2020, John Miller hired a private investigator who discovered that both of Ingersol’s claims about the investigation never happened.
“Mitch Ingersol lied,” said Private Investigator Mike Anderson. “A coverup occurred.”
The Millers brought this evidence back to DPS, and after a yearlong investigation, DPS noted the Millers found “extensive and disturbing evidence” of a cover-up and apologized.
“I think it’s unprecedented in the history of Utah, maybe unprecedented in the analysis of the justice for victims’ rights,” said Paul Cassell, University of Utah law professor and former United States District Judge.
After decades of pain, the family said they have found some peace and hope Valarie Miller has too.
“All the torture and pain I hope is gone away from her and that she can feel happiness,” said Debora Clark Cooper, Valarie Miller’s older sister.
Two of Valarie Miller’s alleged assailants, including Dahle, are dead, and one is currently in prison for soliciting a minor, according to Anderson.
Valarie Miller’s family said they hope they can inspire more victims of sexual assault to come forward.
DPS said in their apology that they have updated their investigation policies and will continue to do so.