West Jordan • A former West Jordan Middle School aide was sentenced Monday to up to life in prison for sexually abusing two teenage students in 2009.
Andrea Billingsley, 35, wept as she told 3rd District Judge Charlene Barlow she has taken responsibility for her actions and is sorry for the "damage" she's caused.
"So many people have been impacted by my actions, and I'm sorry it's' taken me so long to answer to what I've done," she said. "As a mother myself, I empathize with the pain I've caused their families."
But after four years of court proceedings during which Billingsley lied under oath to jurors about the nature of her relationship with the two teenage victims and then fought her convictions all the way to the Utah Supreme Court the judge ruled Billingsley was not sorry enough.
"There is no way around it," the judge said. "After years of denying that she did any of this ... she now must face up to her responsibility."
Billingsley was sentenced to spend five years to life in the Utah State Prison.
As the verdict was read, the mother of one of the victims cried quietly in the courtroom gallery.
The mother had asked the judge to send Billingsley to jail for at least three years, arguing that what Billingsley had asked for one year in jail followed by probation was not enough to account for the harm done to her son.
"She's taken away years of our lives, of my son's life," the mother said. "I'm glad to hear she's admitting, finally, to this. But one year is not enough."
It was an emotional end to a case that has stretched on for four years.
In November 2010, a jury convicted Bilingsley of one count of rape, three counts of forcible sodomy and three counts of forcible sexual abuse.
A month later, and just four days before she was scheduled to be sentenced, Billingsley evaded punishment when 3rd District Judge Robert Adkins granted her a new trial due to several alleged mistakes.
But in a unanimous decision, the Utah Supreme Court overruled the decision and declared that Adkins had abused his discretion as a judge by granting the retrial.
The two teenage victims who were 15 and 16 at the time of the abuse testified at Billingsley's 2010 trial that she performed sex acts on them several times in 2009.
The first victim told the court that the former school aide had performed oral sex on him during in-school suspension while another student slept at a nearby desk.
"This happened in school, a place where parents send their kids thinking they're going to be safe, that they're going to be all right," prosecutor Peter Leavitt said Monday.
The following summer, the boy testified, he was with a friend 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 said.
The boy and his friend both said they then joined Billingsley in her SUV at a West Jordan park. Both teens claimed she fondled and committed other sex acts with them in the backseat.
The second teen said he got out of the car while Billingsley and the first teen had sex.
"They were middle school children," Barlow said before handing down the woman's sentence. "And Ms. Billingsby was the adult. She was the adult in the room but she didn't act like the adult in the room. There is no justification for what she did."