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Sentencing delayed for Davis County teacher in sex abuse case

Published March 20, 2014 5:55 pm

Davis County • He has pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual activity with a teen.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Friday sentencing hearing for a former Davis County high school basketball coach who admitted to having a sexual relationship with a teen girl has been postponed.

Stephen Paul Niedzwiecki, 34, was originally charged in 2nd District Court with eight first-degree felony counts of forcible sodomy, one first-degree felony count of attempted rape, and two second-degree felony counts of forcible sexual abuse.

However, in January, he pleaded guilty to four third-degree felonies — two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a 16- to 17-year old.

Niedzwiecki is a former coach at Jefferson Academy in Kaysville, where now-17-year-old Jaime Heiner was a student athlete. Inappropriate contact allegedly began when the girl was a freshman, but did not escalate to sexual contact until after she graduated in 2011, according to court records.

Earlier this week, Niedzwiecki's attorney, Cara Tangaro, filed a motion to continue the Friday sentencing, writing that she did not receive Niedzwiecki's 63-page pre-sentence report in a timely fashion. She said she plans to ask that the report be redacted or re-done because of "extensive advocacy" by Adult Probation and Parole.

"The report also contains a large volume of factual allegations that have never been made during the lengthy investigation and trial preparation stages of the case," Tangaro wrote.

According to court records, prosecutors did not oppose continuing the case, but the Utah Crime Victim's Legal Clinic filed a motion asking that the sentencing go forward as scheduled.

"[The victim] and her family have been waiting long enough and need closure," the motion reads.

Ultimately, a judge granted the continuance and reset the sentencing for April 10.

The Salt Lake Tribune does not generally name victims of sexual abuse, but is doing so in Heiner's case, with her permission, because she has gone public with her experience and is using it to encourage other victims to speak out.

After Niedzwiecki took the plea deal in January, Heiner went public by advocating for Prevent Child Abuse Utah, and she started her own victim-empowerment organization, I Am.

"My biggest thing is abuse awareness and victim empowerment," she told the Tribune in a recent interview. "Throughout the time I was being abused, I didn't know what abuse was. I thought I was the only one and that kept me silent for a really long time because I didn't realize that one in three women are sexually abused."

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller