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Victim plans complaint vs. judge in case calling rapist 'an extraordinarily good man'

KUTV Judge Thomas Low 041317.JPG
Judge Thomas Low (File photo)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A woman says she plans to file an official complaint against a Utah judge who called a man convicted of sexually assaulting her a "an extraordinarily good man" during sentencing.

Julia Kirby said Thursday that she wants the state Judicial Conduct Commission to know the remarks were "emotionally damaging."

The panel can recommend the Utah Supreme Court reprimand or remove Judge Thomas Low. She expects to file the complaint Friday.

Low said last week that "great men sometimes do bad things" as he sentenced former Mormon bishop Keith Robert Vallejo to five years to life in prison for forcible sexual abuse and object rape.

Kirby says she was 19 when Vallejo groped her multiple times.

The Associated Press doesn't normally identify victims of sexual assault, but Kirby said she wanted her name used.

And a gay rights group has filed an official complaint saying a Utah judge who called a convicted rapist a "good man" during sentencing treated him favorably because he was a Mormon bishop.

Mark Lawrence of Restore our Humanity says the group sent the complaint Thursday to the state Judicial Conduct Commission, which can recommend the Utah Supreme Court reprimand or remove Judge Thomas Low.

Another judicial oversight commission received dozens of comments, but it doesn't have the same power.

Low said last week "great men sometimes do bad things" as he sentenced former Mormon bishop Keith Robert Vallejo to five years to life in prison for forcible sexual abuse and object rape.

The complaint says Low's remarks illustrate a bias toward members of the faith.

The judge attended Brigham Young University, where almost all students are Mormon, but it isn't clear if he's a church member.

Paul Cassell, a former federal judge, who now teaches at the University of Utah law school, said previously that Low is unlikely to be disciplined.

“It’s only for very serious misconduct,” Cassell said, referring to the process whereby the Utah Supreme Court can discipline or remove a judge from office.

Low has no history of problems. In 2014, when he was up for judicial retention, Low was noted for being “polite, knowledgeable, and calm” and for “the respect he shows for courtroom participants.”

Low has served on the bench since 2009. He was appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert.

KUTV contributed to this report.


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