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USU women find strength speaking out against stalker | Crime Courts


Four young women say a monthlong ordeal with a then-faceless stalker left a mark on them that they will not soon forget, but it has also been a journey of extraordinary strength and sisterhood that carried them through some dark days in the last year.

Each of them addressed Judge Kevin Allen in 1st District Court during a sentencing hearing for 26-year-old Luke Champlin, who was later sentenced to 60 days in jail on misdemeanor charges of stalking and failure to stop at the command of a police officer.

Champlin was in a supervisory position at a local business where he was in charge of overseeing student interns from Utah State University. Lexi, who asked to be identified only by her first name, was an intern there in the summer of 2017, she said.

Champlin asked her out, and the pair started dating in August, starting a brief relationship that bled over into the lives of her roommates, April, Bre and Maddie. They say they considered him a friend, they confided in him, and it was reportedly his wish that they consider him their “brother in the valley” while they were attending USU.

In February, Lexi and Champlin went through a break-up that Lexi described as calm and harmonious. A few weeks later, the girls were hit with a barrage of events that individually might have seemed harmless or innocent but turned out to be otherwise.

Lexi said at the end of March, she was overwhelmed with a sudden influx of spam through texts, email and phone, and then the light bulbs to her front porch started disappearing. The registration stickers were removed from her car — something she was unaware of until she was pulled over, she said.

Throughout the first two weeks, Lexi said, the roommates thought each of these things occurred by random coincidence. Their perception changed when Lexi’s car was vandalized by someone who glued the door handles and other components.

“The first time that he super-glued Lexi’s car, I think that was when we were like, OK, something like this is purposeful,” said April.

That was the day Bre was informed of her brother’s unexpected death, a loss that compounded the stress and anxiety of the events happening around them.

During this same time period, Maddie was struck by a car near the university. While she received only minor injuries, she and her roommates couldn’t help but think of their stalker, though they later learned he was not involved.

Throughout this time, Champlin was reportedly in contact with Lexi’s roommates, consoling them, offering his support and telling the girls that whoever could do such a thing to them deserved jail time. They say he even helped them select a security camera as the stalking incidents continued to escalate.

The stalker, later identified as Champlin himself, poured fuel on their doorstep, threw firecrackers at their home, and created a Reddit post with a photo of the girls and Lexi’s phone number, inviting others to contact her.

Lexi said the first person to convince them that these were far more than pranks was interim USU Title IX director and former Logan City Police detective Scott Bodily, who immediately suggested the stalker was Champlin.

All of the girls were in quick denial and defended him to anyone who suggested that their “brother in the valley” was the one behind their growing fears.

As final exams were approaching, several male students living next door slept on the floor in the girls’ living room to help them feel safe.

By the end of the month, the girls say they were overwhelmed, exhausted and fearful. After the fuel incident, the police department stepped up its game. A detective camped out in an unmarked car near their home, vowing to do so until the stalker was caught — Champlin was caught on the second night.

Bre said the girls prepared for the Tuesday sentencing by watching a Ruth Bader Ginsberg documentary together, drawing strength from her example.

They stood in the courtroom the following morning wearing their purple survivor bracelets, poised and confidently outspoken as they shared with the judge the impact this had on their lives.

Each of them lobbied against work release, saying they believe Champlin is a danger to the community, especially in the retail business where he apparently continues to work in a supervisory position with young women.

The Herald Journal reached out to the business to learn more about Champlin’s current status but has yet to receive a response.

In the end, Champlin was granted work release, but the girls are still pleased with the outcome of the case and the lessons learned in the process.

“It makes me proud of us,” April said. “A lot of times I look at strong, influential women, and I’m like, I’m never going to be like that … I had an anxiety attack last night before we spoke today.”

Then, she said, she drew upon the power of her mother’s counsel.

“There are bad moments for everybody, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t come out on top … it doesn’t mean that you can’t be like the strong, influential women that you aspire to be like,” she said.

“We knew that our story could potentially impact other lives and hopefully inspire people to support others — girls supporting girls and women supporting women — it starts at a really young age, and I think our mothers were key,” Lexi said. “It has been really amazing to see where our foundation came from.”

Each of the girls said some of the ability to speak publicly about their ordeal came in knowing that other young women might learn from their experience and also find the strength to stand up and be heard if a situation arises.

“They always talk about it in rape cases like, the first step is believing, and I feel like for stalking it’s similar, but I would switch it to ‘believe in yourself,’” Lexi said. “We can tell you, we felt like we were getting gaslighted, and it was all in our heads, and we felt like people would make rude comments or brush it off. We would second-guess ourselves constantly.”

Champlin has undergone extensive counseling since his arrest last year in May.

According to defense attorney Bryan Galloway, Champlin engaged in a series of activities that, at the time, he felt was somewhat harmless, but he has come to realize just how much emotional stress he gave them.

Galloway said stalking many times is tied to the end of a relationship, which can often be quite messy. It’s hard to know exactly what the lines are — one person is generally feeling different than the other person, and it is hard to know how to behave in those situations, he said.

“His problem was not in seeing the end of the relationship differently, it’s that he acted out in this manner,” Galloway said. “ I don’t think he ever really, at that particular time, saw his actions as being all that detrimental to the emotional health of the girls. I don’t think he saw that; I don’t think he drew that connection. But through time and therapy, I think he has drawn that connection and sees the effect this has had on them.”

He characterized Champlin as an individual with a warped view of the world at the time, but he does not see Champlin as a dangerous individual.

“He is in a much better place than he was then,” he said.

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