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Teachers arrested in junior high school sex scandal

Published: Saturday, March 7 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

Valynne Bowers

Davis County Jail

BOUNTIFUL — Two junior high school teachers here have been charged with rape, accused of having sex with the same teenage boy.

The scandal at Bountiful Junior High has stunned students, parents, administrators, police and prosecutors alike.

It came to light when seventh-grade Utah history teacher Linda Nef, 46, went to authorities with her lawyer and admitted to an affair with a student, said Bountiful Police Lt. Randy Pickett.

"She confesses to having sex with a 13-year-old boy at Bountiful Junior High," Pickett said Friday. "He was one of her students."

Under questioning, Pickett said, Nef revealed that the boy was also having sex with another teacher, Valynne Bowers. Detectives then questioned the boy, whom police said admitted to having sex with both women. Bowers was questioned Thursday night and arrested.

Bowers, 39, was booked into the Davis County Jail early Friday and charged with rape and forcible sodomy, both first-degree felonies. She made a brief appearance Friday in Farmington's 2nd District Court. Bowers posted bail and was released from jail Friday night.

Police said Bowers told them her affair with the student occurred from Jan. 2 until Feb. 27, when he was 14. Nef is accused of carrying on an affair with the boy from December 2007 until Feb. 14, 2008, according to prosecutors.

"He was in her class," Pickett said of the boy. "Neither teacher knew of the other until recently."

Nef was charged late Friday with rape of a child and sodomy on a child, both first-degree felonies, and surrendered to police at the Davis County Jail, where she was booked and released pending a March 27 court appearance. Her attorney, Sean Druyon, declined to comment when contacted by the Deseret News on Friday.

Deputy Davis County attorney Richard Larsen said they are taking Nef's cooperation with authorities into account.

"I'm sure everybody involved has a desire to get this resolved as quickly as possible," Larsen said. "But we're not in a position where we can discuss plea negotiations. Our opinion is certainly we appreciate the cooperation and we're fully intending to take that into account."

At Bountiful Junior High, teachers were in "shock," said Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams.

"They are serious charges, and there's just absolutely certain lines you cannot cross as an educator," Williams said Friday.

Bowers has been a teacher in the Davis County School District since 1996, working for a decade at an elementary school before moving to Bountiful Junior High in 2006 to teach math. Williams said she has been placed on administrative leave.

Nef resigned on Monday. She taught part time at the junior high school, also serving as a cheerleading adviser.

News of the arrests spread quickly through the school.

"I think everybody's just shocked," said the mother of a student in Bowers' eighth-grade algebra class, who asked that her name not be used. "She's such a nice lady and an excellent teacher."

Bountiful Junior High's principal met with faculty to discuss the arrests on Friday morning, Williams said. A letter to parents will be going home with students on Monday.

"It will not go into detail. These teachers are still innocent until proven guilty," Williams said.

The letter will make parents aware of the situation and urge them not to jump to conclusions.

"We will tell them to be sensitive to the situation and if you have any information that you need to share, please come forward," he said.

The boy is in the care of his parents and state child welfare workers are involved in the investigation, Pickett said. Both police and prosecutors said they never would have known about it if Nef had not broken her silence.

"She saw which direction this was going to go and said, 'I need to tell somebody,' " Pickett said.

E-MAIL: bwinslow@desnews.com

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