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3 Utah educators in court this week on sex charges

Published April 8, 2013 1:21 pm

Crime • Two women and man accused of sex acts with students.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In separate cases, three Utah educators accused or convicted of having sexual contact with students are scheduled to be in court this week.

Stephen Niedzwiecki, a former Kaysville charter school teacher and Weber State University adjunct instructor, is charged with forcible sodomy and sex abuse, and is scheduled to be in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.

Prosecutors will present evidence during that hearing trying to prove that Niedzwiecki had sex with a 15-year-old girl who was his student. Second District Judge Michael Allphin will then decide if there is enough probable cause for Niedzwiecki to stand trial.

The 33-year-old is charged in 2nd District Court with eight counts of forcible sodomy, all first-degree felonies punishable by up to life in prison; and one count of attempted rape and two counts of forcible sexual abuse, all second-degree felonies punishable by one to 15 years in prison.

The allegations against Niedzwiecki came to light in December after the student's parents contacted the Department of Child and Family Services and law enforcement.

Assistant Bountiful Police Chief Ed Biehler said in December that a girl and Niedzwiecki first became acquainted when she was 14. She was a student of his at Jefferson Academy — a charter school serving grades kindergarten through ninth — and one of his basketball players. The two allegedly began having sex when the girl was 15 and Niedzwiecki was tutoring her off campus, Biehler said.

Biehler said Niedzwiecki taught at Jefferson Academy from 2010 to 2011 before going to work for Quest Academy last summer. None of the alleged crimes occurred at Quest or involved Quest students, Biehler said.

On Wednesday, a three-day trial is scheduled to begin for Montreia Barney, 50. She was a finance secretary at Mt. Nebo Junior High School in Payson during the summer of 2010 when she allegedly had a sexual encounter with a former student in a church parking lot.

She was charged in 4th District Court with one count each of third-degree felony unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old and class A misdemeanor obstructing justice. The felony is punishable by up to five years in prison. The misdemeanor can carry a one-year jail sentence.

According to prosecutors, Barney's relationship with the 16-year-old boy began with multiple phone calls, including phone sex. The woman allegedly asked the victim to meet her at a local church parking lot during that summer, and the boy agreed to the meeting, according to court documents.

As the victim sat inside of Barney's vehicle, the two performed sex acts on each other, according to court documents, but their 15-minute rendezvous was cut short when the boy's brother approached the car, asking what was going on. Barney allegedly told the brother that she had been stood up on a tennis game by a friend, so she was just "hanging out" with the 16-year-old.

In March 2012, police questioned Barney about the incident, court documents state, and she allegedly denied any inappropriate phone calls with students and denied any meetings with students outside of the school, other than running into students at local stores.

And on Friday, Jamie Waite, a 37-year-old former Ben Lomond High School swim coach, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in Ogden's 2nd District Court after she was convicted by a jury in March of four counts of forcible sexual abuse. Each count is punishable by one to 15 years in prison.

Waite denied to police that she had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy who she met on the swim team, but the victim testified during her trial that the two had sex at least 20 times from November 2010 to February 2011.

The boy testified that the sexual encounters almost always occurred during the day when he was supposed to be at school. He said he frequently drank alcohol with Waite during their encounters.

Waite was initially scheduled to be sentenced last week, but the court date was rescheduled for Friday.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller