In an odd twist of Utah law fate, Sarah Lewis, the Utah high school teacher who got her seventeen year old student loaded on vodka and shtupped his brains out on video tape will not be facing the up to fifteen years prison sentence available for her state sex crime, but rather be released immediately from jail after having served 195 days to date in incarceration.
The married 27-year old old mom and teacher was busted back in January in what had to be one of the dumbest of these teacher sex scandals to date, insomuch as she filmed the encounter, thus providing rock solid evidence of her crime. On advice of her counsel, Lewis pled guilty to the felony charge of Forcible Sexual Abuse, which ranges from 1-15 years in sentence, with an average of a few years in the clink.
While awaiting full sentencing, Lewis’ lawyer suddenly discovered, as in, he didn’t learn this before the plea deal, that there’s a little known caveat in the Utah penal code regarding teachers and having sex with students of the ages of 16 or 17:
“If a minor is 16 or 17 years old, the rape charge can be reduced to Unlawful Sexual Conduct, when applied to a person who holds a relationship of special trust: such as an adult teacher, employee, or volunteer.”
Sort of a reverse of every single other state in the nation where those in a position of trust are treated extra harshly. In Utah it’s something of a Get Out of Statutory Rape Charges card. You’d have to go back and look at the history of that penal clause, but presume it involved somebody influential in the state looking for an out for their sex with an underaged girl. Just a guess that is almost certainly right.
Because the lawyer was essentially incompetent in urging Lewis to plead guilty to the more serious charges she need not have, the judge agreed to let her re-plea to this Unlawful Sexual Conduct misdemeanor, for which she was punished to time served, three years probation, and the sex offender registry.
Also, should she return to teaching, she’s specifically prohibited from fraternizing with students. Return to teaching? Utah has some work to do.