Former Utah school secretary gets probation for lying about sex investigation
American Fork • Montreia Barney was found not guilty last month of unlawful sexual conduct with a former Mt. Nebo Junior High School student.
But the former school finance secretary was sentenced Tuesday for a related conviction: lying to police during their investigation of the sex allegations.
Barney, 50, was sentenced to 12 months probation and 120 hours of community service. Fourth District Judge Thomas Low also ordered the woman to pay a $760 fine.
Barney declined to address the court Tuesday, and neither the prosecutor or defense presented any argument.
Barney was originally charged with one count each of third-degree felony unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old and class A misdemeanor obstructing justice.
In April, a jury acquitted the woman of the sex charge, but found her guilty of obstructing justice for denying to police that she had ever interacted with students outside school.
Barney's attorney, Kenneth Parkinson, said in an email Tuesday that she is grateful to the jury for recognizing that she was innocent of the sex charges but disagreed with the second charge.
"When she was first interrogated by the three male police officers, she was lied to, intimidated, yelled at and prevented from giving her side of the story," Parkinson said. "While we disagree with the obstruction of justice charges, she is happy to put the matter behind her and grateful to be found innocent."
Barney was accused of having a sexual encounter with a 16-year-old male student in the summer of 2010.
During Barney's trial, Parkinson said the woman denied the encounter happened. He said that while she did text the teen and allowed him to say inappropriate things to her, they did not have a sexual relationship.
The alleged victim, now 19, testified at the trial that he first met Barney through the school in 2009 when he was 16. The Payson teen testified that he and Barney began texting one another, and that the texts had turned sexual by the summer of 2010.
During the summer of 2010, the two decided to meet at an LDS church meetinghouse parking lot near his family's property, the teen testified.
At trial, the boy bashfully described several sex acts the two allegedly performed on one another inside her vehicle, but oftentimes said he didn't remember many of the specifics of the encounter, including conversations they had.
Their 15-minute sexual rendezvous was cut short when the boy's brother approached the car and asked what was going on, according to charging documents. 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, but Barney told police there were no inappropriate phone calls with students, and denied she had any meetings with students outside of the school other than running into them at local stores.
But after police confronted her with witness statements about her car being in the church parking lot, she allegedly told them she got lost while going to play tennis, made a U-turn in the parking lot and had a chance encounter with the 16-year-old that lasted two to three minutes.