An Idaho judge wouldn’t sign off on a plea deal for a woman accused of having sex with multiple teenage boys, arguing that the amended charges didn't fit the alleged crime.
Amanda Katherine Steele, 34, had originally been charged with three felony counts of child sexual battery after authorities said teenage boys in the case skipped school and Latter-day Saint seminary to go to Steele’s home and have sex with her, according to East Idaho News.
The proposed plea would have reduced those charges to two counts of felony injury to a child; however, District Judge Darren Simpson said in court that he was unable to accept the plea deal because the evidence did not suggest the boys had suffered great bodily harm.
“I’m not going to accept a plea on some fiction,” he said, according to the local paper. “I’ve got some concerns about not being able to take a plea unless there is a factual basis for it.”
Steele’s attorney Shane Reichert had argued that he believed the charges were sufficient because teenagers can suffer great bodily harm by engaging in sexual relations with an adult.
“I don’t understand the issue,” he said. “I’ve done it on multiple occasions.”
Butte prosecuting attorney Steve Stephens said the plea deal had been reached after “negotiations and compromise.”
Stephens said he plans to continue to try to negotiate a deal that the court would accept. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 30, the paper reports.
Steele is accused of having sex with the teenage boys in early 2016—sometimes in her hot tub, the East Idaho News reports.
The teens told authorities the sexual activities were consensual; however, under Idaho law a minor who is 16 or 17 years old cannot legally consent to having sex with an adult who is five or more years older than they are.
Authorities became aware of the alleged illicit relationships after Steele’s father-in-law contacted investigators in late 2017 to say that he was concerned about rumors that teenage boys at been hanging out at his daughter-in-law’s home.
Steele’s now ex-husband also told authorities that he had come home one day to find Steele and one of the alleged victims together in the hot tub.
Authorities said the teenage boys initially refused to give specific answers, stalling the investigation; however, one of the teens later admitted in 2019 to having sex with Steele while he was a minor.
One of their encounters had allegedly been recorded; however, it was later erased.
“(The victim) told me he knew several of his friends had sex with her too but didn’t know anyone else besides (the second victim) had been under 18,” a deputy wrote in a report obtained by the news outlet.
Steele is out on bond while she awaits her next hearing, according to court records.
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