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West Jordan school aide faces up to life in prison in sex abuse

Published October 17, 2013 6:01 pm

Courts • After the Utah Supreme Court upheld conviction, Andrea Billingsley will be sentenced in December.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

West Jordan • For the second time, a former West Jordan Middle School aide accused of sexually abusing two teenage students in 2009 was ordered Thursday to be sentenced for her crimes.

Andrea Billingsley, 35, who was arrested after her Thursday court appearance, faces up to life in prison when she is sentenced by 3rd District Judge Charlene Barlow on Dec. 16.

It's the second time Billingsley was scheduled to be sentenced in this case since a jury found her guilty of one count of rape, three counts of forcible sodomy and three counts of forcible sexual abuse at her November 2010 trial.

But last time, a month after her trial and just four days before she was to be sentenced, Billingsley evaded punishment when 3rd District Judge Robert Adkins, who had presided over the trial, granted Billingsley a new trial due to several alleged mistakes.

But in a unanimous decision, the Utah Supreme Court overruled the decision, saying Adkins had abused his discretion as a judge by granting the retrial.

Billingsley was taken into custody Thursday. She will be held in lieu of a $50,000 bond.

Two teenage boys testified at Billingsley's 2010 trial that she performed sex acts on them in 2009.

The first victim testified she performed oral sex on him during in-school suspension while another student slept at a nearby desk.

He testified that the following summer, after he was no longer a student at the school, he was with a friend, also 15 at the time, when he and Billingsley had a phone conversation on the friend's phone. Billingsley then sent pictures of her breasts to the friend's cellphone, the teens claimed.

The boy and his friend both said they then joined Billingsley in her SUV at a West Jordan park. Both teens claimed she fondled them and committed other sex acts with them in the backseat. The second teen said he got out of the car when Billingsley and the first teen began to have sex.

Billingsley denied the sexual encounters, saying the two teens made up the story.

She was granted a retrial because, according to Adkins' decision, jurors were not allowed to hear testimony from another teacher at the middle school who claimed one of the two teenage victims had made sexual advances toward her.

The art teacher told the principal of the school that the teen had sexually propositioned her, but her testimony was not allowed at trial because of a state law that protects victims of sexual abuse from having aspects of their sexual history discussed in court as a way to discredit them.

Adkins also ruled that a nude photo of Billingsley's breast sent to the boys from her cellphone should not have been used as evidence because attorneys couldn't prove when or why the photo was taken.

Billingsley's attorneys had argued the photo could have unfairly influenced the jury into believing that Billingsley took the image to seduce her alleged victims, when she claimed she took the photo for her husband and the boys stole her phone to set her up.

Adkins also cited other errors, including Billingsley being referred to as a "teacher" instead of an "aide"; the prosecutor thanking one of the witnesses "for their honesty"on the stand; and a state employee who "emphatically" shook her head from side to side during Billingsley's testimony.

Billingsley's retrial was delayed as the Supreme Court debated the appeal filed by the Utah Attorney General's Office on behalf of the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.

mlang@sltrib.com

Twitter: @Marissa_Jae