Treatment center director charged with teen sex abuse
Felony charges were filed Thursday against a program director for a center for teenagers with sexual behavior problems who is accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old client.
Teresa Lee Cope, 34, of Springville, was charged in 4th District Court with five counts of custodial sexual misconduct with a youth receiving state services. Three of the counts were filed as second-degree felonies, while two are third-degree felonies.
During the time of the alleged crimes, Cope was the program director at Birdseye Residential Treatment Center in Spanish Fork Canyon, which advertises itself as a program "for sexual behavioral problems and pornography addiction."
The teen recently told his parents about sexual encounters that allegedly occurred about a year ago, said Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon.
According to an arrest warrant filed in court, the sexual acts took place between April and May of last year. Cope met the alleged victim while he was a resident at the treatment center, and their friendship turned sexual, according to police.
The alleged acts took place inside the treatment center and during off-site activities in Springville and Spanish Fork, according to police. The arrest warrant alleges that the two performed sexual acts on one another, and eventually the relationship progressed to sexual intercourse that occurred in the backseat of a van parked outside a movie theater in Spanish Fork.
Cope "would create circumstances that were conducive to her being able to do this," Cannon said. "She would manipulate circumstances in her favor so she could accomplish these things she wanted to do."
The teen's parents reported his claims to the state Department of Child and Family Services. Investigators found evidence in Cope's home that supported the teen's claims, including "electronic evidence" and "clothing items," Cannon said.
The teen also reported an encounter at a Washington County youth facility, which authorities there are investigating separately, Cannon said.
Cope is expected to make her initial appearance in court on Friday.