There goes the best plea deal ever

I wrote about a case in which a former juvenile corrections nurse received a plea deal that allowed her to skirt sexual assault charges. She engaged in sexual activities with two inmates, and even followed one to his home after his release. The deal downgraded the charge from sexual battery on a minor to aggravated assault, which meant Valerie Lieteau would not have to register as a sex offender despite the severity of her crimes.

That has now changed:

A Canyon County judge on Tuesday rejected a plea agreement that would have allowed Valerie Lieteau to avoid having to register as a sex offender.


Lieteau appeared Tuesday in Canyon County 3rd District Court, where she was scheduled to be sentenced to up to five years in prison. However, Judge Christopher Nye without comment rejected the plea agreement and withdrew Lieteau’s guilty plea.

As a result, the original charges were reinstated and Lieteau now faces trial on Oct. 24. If convicted of the sexual battery charges, she could face up to life in prison.

The most curious part is that the judge gave no reason for rejecting the plea deal. The procedural rules vary from state to state, but to the best of my knowledge a judge needs to give a legal reason for rejecting the deal. This makes me wonder whether the judge’s decision will be overturned.

As for the reason the judge made the decision, I suspect it may be due to the facts of the case. Lieteau appears to be a serial abuser, preying on several boys and threatening them to keep it secret :

Lieteau allegedly took one 18-year-old inmate into a private examination room or other areas out of camera range between July 2009 and March 2010 and had sex with him at least 15 times. Lieteau, who was in her mid-30s at the time, also reportedly went to the boy’s hometown at least twice and had sex with him there, after his release. […]

She had sex with a second inmate on “numerous occasions” beginning in December 2008, when he was 18, according to court documents filed in the civil suit. She also took him to a private examination room and to her home when he was granted home passes. The relationship lasted until February 2012, after the boy was released from the center, and when Lieteau no longer worked there. […]

The third victim Lieteau allegedly abused was 17 when they had sex at Lieteau’s house while he was out on a pass. The boy later showed signs of mental and emotional distress.

Lieteau is not the only woman who abused inmates. According to the article, two other women were accused of abusing boys. Including the three boys Lieteau abused, 12 other kids claimed they were abused. The accusations were enough to cause the facility to change its policies to protect the children in their care.

We will see if the changes actually protect the kids. If the facility has this many complaints it may take more than a handful of backspaces on a Word document to address the problem.

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