Brianne Altice, a former teacher at Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah, plead guilty in April to three counts of forcible sexual abuse related to charges that she engaged in inappropriate sexual activities with students in her care. Altice, now 37-years-old, was employed at Davis High School as recently as February of 2014. According to her plea deal, Altice admitted to engaging in sexual contact with three minors in her classes between 2012 and 2013. The three students that came forward to accuse Altice, all young men, were between the ages of 16 and 17 when the abuse occurred.
The charges against the teacher state that the inappropriate behavior began when Altice, who was 34-years of age at the time, began a sexual relationship with one of her students in 2012. The details of the case are disturbing, and include many accounts of inappropriate sexual contact, including at least one incident in a public park. The victim was ultimately able to come forward to Kaysville Police and share intimate details about the relationship that had apparently been ongoing for months.
To make matters worse, two other young men in Altice’s care also came forward after the launch of the initial investigation to corroborate the accusations, as well as add new details of their own inappropriate interactions with their teacher. All three accusers were consistent in their account of their relationships with Altice, and the teacher opted to admit to all of the wrongdoing rather than deny the allegations and go to trial.
Altice clearly abused her position of power in order to engage young men in inappropriate sexual relationships. Under Utah law, a person cannot consent to sex if the other party is “in a position of special trust.”
On top of this violation, all of the accusers were under the legal age of consent at the time, and should never have been sexually approached by an authority figure at their place of education. Altice will attend a sentencing hearing on May 28th, 2015 to learn what her punishment for this crime will be. Each of the three counts carries a sentence of between 1 and 15 years in prison.
Students and young people depend on teachers, priests, counselors and other authority figures to provide honest and constructive insight and advice in to how they should be living their lives. Young people form habits and beliefs about the world around them by internalizing the actions and words of those in charge of their care. For this reason, and many others, cases of abuse such as this are especially tragic.
A teacher that abuses their position of power in order to exploit the students in their class calls into question the entire power dynamic of an institution such as Davis High School. Along with creating lasting mental trauma for the victims of her abuse, fellow faculty and students at Davis High will be left to pick up the pieces and try to move on with their lives.
Davis School District is now facing an additional civil suit from the victims’ families, who allege that school officials knew of the abuse before the start of the investigation, but failed to intervene. Whether or not the families can prove this allegations remains to be seen.
If you or a loved one has witnessed a teacher, principal, church leader, or any other adult in a position of power or influence engage in abusive or inappropriate sexual behavior with a child, you will need an experienced legal team by your side. Child sexual abuse cases are complex, and the attorneys of Nix Patterson & Roach can help provide the answers you need.
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Attorney Neil Smith of Nix Patterson & Roach has been helping families and young people by protecting their rights in child sexual abuse cases. He is at the forefront of this epidemic in our country and advocates daily on behalf of children and innocent victims.
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