Update: On Tuesday, Amanda Katherine Steele, 35, was ordered to spend 90-days in jail.
The judge suspended the three to 10-year prison sentence as long as Steele completes seven years of felony probation.
(June 2020) An Idaho woman accused of having sex with teenagers had her plea agreement rejected.
District Judge Darren Simpson did not accept the plea of 34-year-old Amanda Katherine Steele, of Soda Springs. She had pleaded guilty to two counts of felony injury to a child as opposed to the original three felony counts of child sexual battery committed by lewd conduct, East Idaho News reports.
“I’m not going to accept a plea on some fiction,” he told defense attorney Shane Reichert, pointing to a need for proof that Steele’s alleged victims suffered great bodily harm. “I’ve got some concerns about being able to take a plea unless there is a factual basis for it.”
He noted that guilty pleas involve a defendant owning up to every part of a crime as well as evidence that supports said criminal act.
Steele allegedly had sex in 2016 with multiple teenage boys, who claim to have skipped school to partake in sex at her home, then in Arco, about 140 miles northwest of Soda Springs.
The alleged victims regarded the sex as consensual but Idaho law stipulates that minors aged 16 and 17 can’t consent to sex with adults who are at least five years older.
Had the judge accepted the plea agreement, Steele would be sentenced to no longer than a retained jurisdiction or rider program – under which a person is sent to prison for up to a year to go through treatment programs, such as sex abuse treatment. After completion of treatment, a judge can decide to release the individual on probation or send them back to prison.
A psychosexual evaluation then would have determined whether Steele was at a low risk to reoffend and if so, she could have received probation with local jail time as a possibility. But, if sentenced to any jail time, she would only have had to serve on weekends during the time she does not have custody of her kids.
An investigation into Steele’s alleged actions began in late 2017 after her then-father-in-law told authorities he’d heard rumors about young boys spending time with her at her home.
The case was held up in spring 2018 when Steele and the reported victims did not provide specifics during interviews. It found new life in July 2019 after Steele’s now-ex-husband told authorities she had confessed to him that she’d had sex with the teenagers.
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