Woman charged after teenagers skipped school and seminary to have sex with her, according to court documentsPublished at | Updated at
ARCO — A woman from Soda Springs is accused of committing sex crimes with teenage boys in Butte County.
Amanda Katherine Steele, 34, is charged with three felony counts of child sexual battery committed by lewd conduct following an investigation that began in 2017. According to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, Steele engaged in sexual activity with the teenage boys in early 2016. One encounter was allegedly recorded on camera.
While the victims considered the sexual conduct consensual, prosecutors charged Steele because under Idaho law, a minor who is 16 and 17 cannot consent to sex with adults five or more years older than them.
The Butte County Sheriff’s office began investigating when Steele’s father-in-law contacted deputies in late 2017 after hearing rumors that a group of boys would hang out with his daughter-in-law at her home in Butte County.
Deputies spoke with the victims and they remained vague about their relationships with Steele, the probable cause statement states. One teenager said he didn’t want to press charges against Steele saying he “didn’t think it was a big deal.” He also said he was a willing participant in the sexual activity.
When detectives spoke with Steele in April 2018, they said she told them several teenage boys came over but she would not give names. When deputies asked about engaging in inappropriate activities, she said, “I don’t really want to talk about it until I have to,” according to court documents.
A deputy wrote in his report that Steele told him situations arose that “could lead someone to engage in sexual activity with an underage boy,” but she would not elaborate. She also said others were dealing with the same thing, but would not give names, saying it would affect an entire community.
It remains unclear what happened over the next 15 months but in July 2019, Steele’s ex-husband contacted deputies about the allegations again. He had been present during the April 2018 interview and said he knew a lot about the alleged sexual activities. He said Steele admitted to engaging in sex with the underage boys but in the earlier interview, he was more concerned about saving their marriage than telling investigators the truth.
The ex-husband said he came home one day to find her and one of the victims snuggling in the hot tub. When he tried stopping the activity, he claims Steele became upset and would “tell him he’s being ridiculous,” deputies say.
Investigators spoke with one of the teenagers again in 2019 and he admitted to having sex with Steele while underage. One said he used a Go-Pro camera to record one of the sexual encounters but the computer with the file was destroyed. He told investigators he would skip school and LDS seminary to go over to Steele’s home to have sex.
“(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 his report.
Prosecutors charged Steele in November 2019 and after her arrest, she posted the $50,000 bond. She appeared at a preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon and the next court date is still pending.
If convicted, each charge holds a maximum sentence of life in prison.