Published December 13, 2011
VERNAL, Utah – A teen charged for hiring a man to beat her in an effort to induce a miscarriage could face charges once again after the Utah Supreme Court reversed a district court's dismissal of the 2009 case.
In a ruling issued Tuesday, justices said a state judge incorrectly interpreted state law when deciding the 17-year-old girl could not be held criminally liable for essentially seeking an abortion through the beating.
Justices said a solicited assault could not be considered a legal procedure under state laws that define abortion.
The Uintah County case prompted Utah legislators to pass a law last year that bans abortions that are not performed by a doctor through a medical procedure.
Court records show the pregnant girl paid a man $150 to beat her in hopes of prompting a miscarriage after her boyfriend threatened a break up if she didn't get rid of the child.
Records show the man attacked her, leaving bruises on her stomach and a bite mark on her neck. The baby survived the beating and was adopted.
The girl pleaded no contest in June 2009 to a second-degree felony count of criminal solicitation to commit murder. But that charge was dismissed by Juvenile Court Judge Larry Steele, who ruled that she was seeking an abortion and was not criminally liable.
The man charged in the beating, Aaron Harrison, pleaded guilty to second-degree felony attempted murder and was sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Tuesday's ruling sends the case back to the 8th District Court for further proceedings.
A message left for the teen's attorney was not immediately returned.