Former Utah middle school worker sentenced for sexually abusing teen
West Jordan • It was a generous birthday gift roses and a ring, shimmering with the glint of diamonds.
But as the mother looked at her 14-year-old son, who had offered her the tokens just moments before, she couldn't help but feel suspicious. How could he afford this kind of present? Where did he get the money?
He told her that he earned it by working in the basement of a family friend, a woman who worked at a Sandy middle school cafeteria, a mother with a son of her own.
Her name was Jamie Lynn Greenwood.
Nearly five years later, the mother told a 3rd District judge that she doesn't want to think about what ugly things her teenage son had to do to give her such beautiful gifts. She sobbed in court Friday as she described the betrayal she felt when she learned that Greenwood had traded her teenage son gifts and money for sex.
On Friday, Greenwood was sentenced to prison.
The 44-year-old woman pleaded guilty last month to two second-degree felony counts of forcible sexual abuse and two third-degree felony counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
She could spend up to 15 years behind bars.
"Most of the cases I look at are drug cases or theft cases where there's a way a person can pay back what they took," Judge Charlene Barlow told Greenwood. "You cannot repay what you took. Counseling can't repay what you took. You took a young man and caused a great deal of damage to his life."
A cafeteria worker at Eastmont Middle School for four years until she resigned because of the allegations, Greenwood had claimed the relationship was consensual and that the boy "threatened and intimidated" her into having sex.
As Barlow handed down Greenwood's sentence, the ex-school employee's family broke down in tears. Her 19-year-old son, who was a classmate and friend of the victim before his mother was arrested, sobbed openly in the hall outside the courtroom.
Defense attorney Mark Arrington had asked Barlow to let Greenwood go with no further incarceration. Greenwood had already spent 171 days in jail after she was arrested on suspicion of sex abuse.
"This has turned her life inside out for the last three years," Arrington said of Greenwood. "Other than this huge pot hole that shedove into, her life is so common as to be unremarkable."
Arrington noted she has no prior history of sex abuse and has committed no new crimes during three years of court proceedings. She also has spent nearly 600 hours in counseling, and never missed an appointment, he added.
Barlow ordered that Greenwood be allowed to continue counseling while in prison. She also ordered that Greenwood attend a support group for sex offenders.
The victim, now 19, told Greenwood he was glad she had sought help.
"I've forgiven her a long time ago. I have," said the teen, who added that he moved three times and has lived on the streets in the wake of the abuse. "But it's still a burden you wake up with every day."
The short young man, with a patch of facial hair, an oversized white collared shirt and bright red tie, left the courtroom flanked by his mother and father. The family had been too busy bracing for the worst, they said, they hadn't considered the possibility that the judge might do what they asked: Send Greenwood to prison.
"I was scared of what the judge might do," the mother said as she walked out of the courthouse. "I thought they might go easy on her because she's a woman. But I'm glad she's being punished for what she did."
According to charging documents, Greenwood threatened to tell people at the boy's school or to drop him off in an unfamiliar neighborhood when he tried to stop or avoid the abuse. Once he came clean and told police, he said, it was like a weight had been lifted. But it was only the beginning of a difficult journey.
Greenwood's case went on for nearly three years as it made its way before the Utah Supreme Court.
In August 2010, on the morning her trial was to begin, Greenwood asked Judge Robert Adkins to hear her case instead of the jury.
Prosecutors protested, but Greenwood's attorney argued that a trained legal mind would be better able to parse the fine line between, for example, rape and unlawful sexual activity, and that the jury pool was tainted by pretrial publicity.
Adkins granted the request, but prosecutors appealed to the Utah Supreme Court.
In December, the high court sided with the state, finding that defendants do not have the right to choose a judge over a jury unless prosecutors agree to the change.
The case was returned to the trial court, but was re-assigned to Barlow.
Barlow ordered Greenwood to begin serving her sentence immediately. She was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.