Valynne Bowers Goes To Trial
Posted by shadmia on August 29, 2009
40-year-old Valynne Asay Bowers, accused of having sex with a 14-year-old boy, who was a student at the same high school where she taught math – Bountiful Junior High – will go to trial. She faces 8 felony charges: five counts of rape and three counts of forcible sodomy. The charges carry a possible life sentence if she is found guilty.
Bowers is the second teacher to face charges of having sex with the same boy. Linda Richins Nef has already pleaded guilty to having sex with the boy when he was 13 years old. She has been sentenced to 3 years to life in prison.
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Bowers was ordered to stand trial by Second District Judge Jon M. Memmott after a preliminary hearing determined that there was enough evidence to warrant one.
During the preliminary hearing, a police officer read aloud a confession and letter of apology that Bowers wrote with detectives. Investigators had apparently encouraged her to write the letter, telling her that it might help her case.
“He came to me as a responsible adult,” Bowers allegedly wrote in the letter. “I violated so much trust.”
“He was dealing with more than an adult can handle,” she wrote. “I just tried to be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.”
Bowers said she “tried to be a strong shoulder he could lean on.”
Bowers lamented, however, “I began to lean on him. I didn’t realize how lonely and depressed I was . . . “
She added: “I had no right to treat him as an adult. I’m sorry for all the damage I caused.”
The boy also gave testimony at the hearing. He said he was the one who initiated sexual contact with his teacher. He went to her classroom after school, even though Bowers no longer was his teacher, and rummaged through her desk. He also sent her text messages and taught her guitar lessons at her home.
Yes, he said, he looked at pornography. Yes, members of his music band — some 17 or 18 years old — talked with him about sex. Yes, his family, in particular his stepfather, talked openly about intercourse because “he just likes to joke about it,” the boy said. And yes, before he and Bowers had sex for the first time, he told her that he thought she was a “pushover.”
Prosecutors, however, argued that as a teacher, Bowers was in a position of special trust and should never have engaged in sexual behavior with the child. That position of trust is why she was charged with first-degree felonies as opposed to lesser charges.
“A teacher doesn’t stop being a teacher when the bell rings,” prosecutor Richard Larsen said. “She was a teacher in his school. By nature of that position, they have authority over you.”
Bowers’ defense attorney, Rich Gallegos, noting that no sexual conduct occurred at school, and that Bowers was not the boy’s teacher at the time of the alleged crimes, argued there was no teacher/student (special trust) relationship.
Rich Gallegos said there is ambiguity in the law on the issue of “position of trust.”
“The law’s not clear. There’s no appellate guidance. So, this will be an issue of first impression. But, as the court indicated, it’s a factual issue that will ultimately be determined by a jury,” he said.
“The question is whether she used her position as a teacher to exploit this kid and I don’t think the facts support that,” Gallegos said. “He was not her direct student. He went to her classroom to obtain personal information so he could pursue her after hours.”
According to testimony from police and the boy, the boy initiated contact with Bowers in December 2008 by showing up at her after-school math study sessions. He got her cell phone number by using her phone to send himself a message, then began texting and talking to her about his troubled past – including being sexually molested as a younger child – and other personal problems.
Later, the communications became joking and teasing, then sexual.
They first had phone sex, according to testimony. Then, on Jan. 2, they had sexual intercourse. The boy said they had sex twice that first time; Bowers said it was three times.
A week or two later the boy began giving Bowers 30-minute guitar lessons at her home, where they had sex every Friday night until Feb. 27. Bowers told police she tried to end the relationship, but the boy threatened to harm himself.
The relationship finally ended in early March when Linda Nef, 46, another Bountiful Junior High teacher who had a sexual relationship with the same boy when he was 13 years old, went to police and told them about herself and Bowers. She received a 3-year-to-life sentence.