PROVO She bought him expensive, name-brand clothes. He thought he loved her.
That's why it was so tough for a 16-year-old boy to tell police that his proctor parent had been allowing sexual acts to take place between the two of them for nearly four months, the teen's mother told the Deseret News.
Jennifer Gonzales, 32, pleaded guilty Monday to two third-degree felonies of attempted forcible sex abuse for allowing her proctor son to give her a sensual massage on March 31.
Proctor parents take temporary care of troubled kids in state custody.
Gonzales' attorney, Mike Esplin, said they had been offered the plea deal a few weeks ago but needed some time to think about it.
"She admitted to the police it happened," Esplin said. "She didn't want it drug out."
But the teen's mother who is not identified because the Deseret News doesn't identify victims of sexual abuse said she is concerned about how this has affected her son.
"She had such influence over him," she said. "She said, 'Keep it a secret,' and (eventually) he couldn't take it anymore. He's going through counseling (now), but I don't know what the long-term effect will be."
The mother said she believes Gonzales groomed her son, buying him expensive clothes that the mother had never been able to provide for him, and when the alleged sexual behavior began four months into his eight-month proctor stay, it just kept going. The boy now lives with his grandmother.
Prosecutor Mariane O'Bryant said they haven't charged Gonzales with additional charges because they haven't received detailed information about when the additional alleged sexual activity occurred.
O'Bryant said it was most concerning to her that this happened when Gonzales should have been "protecting and taking care" of the teen. Gonzales will be sentenced July 28. It's unknown how much, if any, jail time Gonzales would serve, O'Bryant said.
This case came to light when Gonzales' husband, Richard, came home from work on March 31 to find the teen running into the bathroom, pulling up his pants and Gonzales half-dressed in the couple's bedroom, trying to clothe herself, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in 4th District Court.
Richard Gonzales got out a gun and chased the teen out and then pointed it at his wife, threatening her, according to the affidavit.
He was arrested and charged with two counts of third-degree felony aggravated assault but will take a plea deal next week after waiving his preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon.
His attorney, Mike Petro, said his client will plead guilty to what he expects to be a lesser charge of displaying a gun, which was unloaded.
"I think most people look at this, and although it's not legally justified, it was justified," Petro said. The couple filed for divorce in May.
Jennifer Gonzales taught at Mt. Nebo Junior High School in Payson beginning in 2005 at the Cornerstone Unit of the school, an alternative education route for sixth- and seventh-grade students, according to school officials.The boy was not a student. She was placed on administrative leave from the school while the case was being investigated. District policy is to terminate employees who are convicted of such crimes.
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