Suspect charged in cold case rape crime

SOUTH SALT LAKE Utah (ABC4 Utah) -  It took seven years, but a rape victim now knows the man who allegedly raped her.

Thursday, the Salt Lake District Attorney's office filed charges against 53-year-old David Zachary Swigart related to the 2010 sexual assault.

"This case could be construed as a cold case and based on the evidence of this case, the charges are warranted," said Sim Gill, Salt Lake County District Attorney. 

According to Gill, police knew who the suspect was.  He said the problem was finding the victim which police did last year.

In 2010, police began investigating the rape allegations. According to the charges and a search warrant, the 18-year-old was walking along 3300 South near 600 East.
That's when a man forced her to a nearby parking lot.  There, he threatened to kill the teen, raped her and left.  For seven years, the case remain unsolved.

"What I'm happy to see is that it looks like justice is about to be served," said Turner Bitton, executive director with the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA).

Salt Lake's district attorney was unsure why it took three years for detectives to turn over DNA evidence of the suspect to the state's crime lab.

"I don't know if it sat on someone's desk but there was a gap in 2010, 2013 for some reason it didn't get processed," Gill said.

But he said in 2013 another detective renewed the investigation.  Gill said the detective took the suspect's DNA to the state crime lab for processing and it pointed to Swigart.

"Kudos to detectives to stick with it because it almost took three years to locate the victim," Gill said. The victim vanished but Swigart was already in prison on an unrelated crime.

After finding the teen, the state crime lab again took new DNA from Swigart and it matched the old DNA evidence.  Swigart was already in prison on an attempted sexual assault.
Sexual assault advocates said despite justice delayed, this will help the victim.

"One of the things we know about trauma is the best way to start the process of recovery is to give power and control back," said Turner Bitton, executive director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA).

And he said the charges against Swigart is the first step in regaining that power.
As for the district attorney, he too hopes justice will eventually be served for the victim.

"I'm sorry that it took as long as it did," Gill said.  "But the fact we are moving the direction of delivering that justice all hope is not lost and should not be lost."

Gill said there have been many important changes to prevent these types of delays.  He said their office received a federal grant to expedite the processing of DNA evidence.  In addition, Gill said law enforcement has a new policy which makes sexual assaults a priority.

Bitton said UCASA supported legislation that provides additional funding to the state crime lab.  He said House Bill 200 will help all victims statewide to get DNA processing at a much faster rate.

This piece originally appeared on good4utah. Click here to watch the video and read the original article.


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