Former Utah treatment center director admits sexual misconduct
A former program director for a center for teenagers with sexual behavior problems pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexually abusing a 15-year-old client.
Teresa Lee Cope, 34, of Springville, pleaded guilty in 4th District Court to 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.
The guilty pleas were the result of a plea agreement, according to court records. She pleaded guilty as charged to the crimes; in exchange prosecutors agreed to file no other charges against her.
Cope faces a maximum of 55 years in prison when she is sentenced on Sept. 10.
During the time of the alleged crimes, Cope was 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 victim told his parents several months ago 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.
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.