Utah swim coach convicted of having sex with teen
By jessica miller
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Mar 01 2013 01:07PM
Ogden • The trial for Jamie Waite came down to who had a motive to lie.
Waite, a former volunteer swim coach at Ben Lomond High School, denied ever having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy in 2010.
The teen testified during her trial this week that they had sex at least 20 times from November 2010 to February 2011.
On Friday, a jury took about 90 minutes to find Waite guilty of four counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony.
Waite remained still as 2nd District Judge Scott Hadley read the guilty verdict on the first count. But after the judge said the word "guilty" a second time, the 37-year-old woman covered her face and began sobbing.
Waite faces up to 15 years in prison on each count when she is sentenced April 4.
The victim’s mother was also brought to tears by the verdicts. She said outside the courtroom that her son was an excellent student before Waite "completely turned his life around."
"I am very grateful that justice was served," she said outside of the courtroom. "My son’s life was changed because of her. I’m thankful the jurors saw straight through her."
During the three-day trial, the victim, who is now 19, testified that he first had sex with Waite after a party in November 2010. They drank shots of vodka at the party, he said — the first time he had ever tried alcohol — and then he went back to Waite’s home with her and a friend, Isaac Gonzales.
After Waite had gone into her bathroom to take a shower, the victim testified that Gonzales dared him to go into the bathroom, so he did.
And it was there where the two had sex on her bathroom floor, he testified.
Gonzales testified that while his memory of that November night was fuzzy — it was also his first time consuming alcohol — he said he remembered opening Waite’s bathroom door and seeing the two having sex.
While Waite chose not to take the witness stand, a recorded interview she had with an Ogden police investigator was played Friday. In the video, she described herself as a "second mom" to the swimmers on the swim team, and denied any sexual relationship.
"I haven’t done anything wrong," she told the investigator.
In June 2011, the teen sent a letter to Hadley saying he wanted Waite’s prosecution dropped.
Defense attorney Randall Marshall suggested during closing arguments that the teen wanted the case to go away to hide his own misbehavior.
If sexual contact did occur in November 2010, Marshall said, it was because Waite was extremely intoxicated, and the teen may have taken advantage of her.
"So maybe the reason why [the teen] is so conflicted is because the truth has never come out," Marshall said. "The truth is maybe [the victim] took advantage of her because she was so, so, so drunk."
Ashley Palmer, who hosted the November party that Waite and the two teens attended, testified that Waite and the victim played several games of beer pong at her home, but said Waite was drinking all of the beer during the game, because the boy was not old enough to drink alcohol.
"Jamie was so intoxicated," Palmer said. "She was drinking for both of them."
Palmer said she never saw hard liquor at the party, and never let the teen boys drink any beer.
About 20 minutes after Waite and the teens left the party, Palmer said she went to Waite’s home to check on her because she appeared to be very drunk. When she went into Waite’s bedroom, she saw Gonzalez on a chair and the victim on Waite’s bed, and both boys appeared to be asleep. Waite was in the bathroom throwing up, Palmer said.
After giving Waite a blanket and helping the woman take her shoes off, she left, Palmer said.
Marshall said after Palmer left, the victim may have gone into the bathroom and had sex with a very intoxicated Waite, who did not give her consent.
"Maybe that’s why he’s lying," Marshall said. "Maybe he doesn’t want to admit what he did."
Deputy Weber County Attorney Teral Tree called Marshall’s theory "a complete fabrication," insisting that the victim did not have a motive to lie.
"You’ve heard the evidence," Tree said to jurors. "You know the truth. Who has the motive to lie in this case?"
Tree emphasized in his closing arguments that jurors should not dismiss or look at the case more lightly because it involves an older woman and a teenage boy. He asked the eight-person jury to look at the law as it is written, without holding prejudice because the person in a position of trust was a woman.
"For whatever reason, there is a stigma in our society," he told jurors, "that a relationship between an older woman and a young boy is given a pass."