Pleasant View teen speaks out about being sexually abused

Saturday , August 30, 2014 - 12:47 PM

Kaycee Hudman 3

Kaycee Hudman, seen here with her 15th birthday cake, says she is working hard to gain closure and...

PLEASANT VIEW — KayCee Hudman can't remember back to a time she didn't have to carry around an unpleasant secret.

"I don't know when it started," Hudman says of being sexually abused as a child. "I don't remember a time when it wasn't happening."

Hudman, 15, is only is a sophomore at Fremont High School. But she speaks with an almost clinical knowledge about child abuse and the challenges victims encounter as they reveal what has happened to them and sort through unwarranted feelings of guilt and shame.

"It took me a long time to stop thinking that I did something wrong," Hudman told the Standard-Examiner in an interview Tuesday. "I had everyone tell me it was not my fault, and honestly, it doesn't matter how many people tell you it’s not your fault. It takes you saying, I know this isn't my fault. ... I (had previously) felt it was my fault it went on for so long because I never told."

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Hudman is still looking for total closure. The man charged with sexually abusing her from about ages 4 to 13, died last week before his case was closed. Orin Searle, of Ogden, was 88.

A lack of a final resolution the case frustrates Hudman, whose decision to come forward led to more than a half dozen other accusers making incriminating statements against Searle.

"I told my dad, I said, 'I will have (Searle) see the inside of prison walls before he dies,’ “ Hudman said. "I don't care if it’s a minute before he dies, an hour before he dies or a month before he dies. I want him to see the inside of prison walls. And I never got that."

Searle was arrested in May 2013. He was ruled incompetent to stand trial in November after in-court arguments over whether his old age inhibited him from comprehending his charges.

Searle was assigned to the Utah State Hospital for treatment and evaluation, and earlier this month, 2nd District Judge Noel Hyde ordered that Searle's stay be extended. Searle was uncooperative with doctors, Hyde said, who were trying to determine whether his competency could be restored for the purpose of being sent back to trial.

Hudman told several of her friends she was abused before one of them persuaded her to share the information with her mother.

"There are days where I look back on it and wish I never told, but then there are days where I have my mom and I have my friends and they know what happened and they can be there for me," Hudman said through tears. "I don't have to keep it in anymore. Because keeping a secret that big is the hardest thing to do."

Hudman's mother, Heidi Hudman, said she didn't know where to begin seeking justice for her daughter.

"We called the rape hotline just to get an idea ... I had absolutely no clue what to do," Heidi said. "They said she could file ... charges against him and it could be dismissed because they didn't believe her, it could be dismissed for lots of reasons, (or) it could go to court. They just told us all the options that might happen. ... It was not going to be brushed under the rug and (result in) another adult with issues because nobody did anything to protect her."

The younger of the Hudmans was left to choose what she wanted to do. She decided to contact police, but it was not a decision without sacrifice. Hudman said she immediately faced retaliation by people close to Searle — in the form of a since-dismissed charge of credit card fraud against her. Hudman felt "completely betrayed," she said, because "had loved" those who she said turned against her.

Hudman also became fearful that others at school would find out she was a victim of sexual abuse because of the case.

"I didn't go around shouting it," she explained, despite confiding it to her best friends.

Hudman didn't want her victimhood to define her or be the first impression of her classmates.

"I (got) very bad anxiety, like I felt like everyone would know when I went to school," she said. "I felt like they'd look at me and think she was raped or sexually abused and just know by looking at me. I didn't want anyone to know and I was terrified they would."

But during the time she was advised not to speak with Searle's other accusers because of the ongoing criminal case, Hudman says she realized the value of sharing her experience with others.

"I couldn't talk to anyone the whole time everything (in the criminal case against Searle) was being set up," Hudman said. "All of (Searle's) other victims were getting that kind of closure and I felt like I didn't get my closure. (But) I can get ... closure by putting it out there, by finally not being scared to say that it happened to me."

Hudman views publicizing her story as a step toward her own cathartic relief and perhaps as a way to encourage other victims of abuse.

"I want to help people and, if I can do that, then something good can come of this," she said.

Hudman offered simple advice for abuse victims who struggle under a lonely weight of hidden depression.

"Just tell someone. And don't just tell your friends," Hudman said. "I told five or six friends before I told the person that got me to (go to my mom)."

Hudman: Angry my abuser gamed the system

Closure or no closure, Hudman told the Standard-Examiner she is disappointed that Searle "played the court system."

"To see him in court acting like he was crippled, making people think he couldn't do this to me, it hurt me," Hudman said.

Multiple witnesses testified of Searle's vitality at his November competency hearing. Hyde wasn't persuaded, Hudman said, because those witnesses were able to describe only his physical well-being and not his mental state.

Two psychologists evaluated Searle in advance of that hearing, coming to opposite conclusions about his competency. Hyde ruled the incompetency finding was more persuasive because the methodology used in that evaluation was more reliable.

Hudman says she grew angry earlier this month when she learned Searle wasn't cooperating with doctors at the state hospital. She believes Searle was smart enough to navigate his initial competency review, but later had to resort to stall tactics while he was hospitalized.

"Honestly, he's not smart enough to know to fake it (under hospital supervision) to get out of it," Hudman said. "I knew he was going to just push it and push it until he couldn't go to trial. When they said he wasn't cooperating, it pissed me off more than it would have if he had just been (found) incompetent."

Contact reporter Ben Lockhart at 801-625-4221 or blockhart@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @SE_Lockhart. Like his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/blockhartSE. 

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