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Judge rejects plea deal for woman accused of sexual relations with teen boys

Crime Watch

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Watch the June 16 hearing for Amanda Katherine Steele in the video player above.

UPDATE

ARCO — A district judge rejected a plea agreement made between a prosecutor and a Soda Springs woman accused of having sexual relations with teenage boys.

District Judge Darren Simpson did not think the amended charges filed against Amanda Katherine Steele, 34, fit the alleged sex offenses. The signed plea agreement changed three felony counts of child sexual battery committed by lewd conduct to two counts of felony injury to a child.

Simpson told defense attorney Shane Reichert that he cannot accept such a plea deal without evidence that supports the teenage boys suffered great bodily harm from the alleged actions of Steele.

“I’m not going to accept a plea on some fiction,” Simpson said. “I’ve got some concerns about being able to take a plea unless there is a factual basis for it.”

Reichert argued that teens having sexual relations with an adult can cause great bodily harm, thus making the felony injury to child charges sufficient.

“I don’t understand the issue,” Riechert said. “I’ve done it on multiple occasions.”

Simpson said part of pleading guilty is having a defendant admit to every part of a crime and information that supports the crime.

“The court analysis on this is correct,” Butte prosecuting attorney Steve Stephens said. “This is the result of negotiations and compromise.”

According to court documents, the boys said they would skip school and Latter-day Saint seminary and go to Steele’s home to have sex. At the time, Steele lived in Arco.

Although 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.

Stephens said he would continue to negotiate a deal with Steele that the court could see as legal and Simpson could accept.

Simpson set another hearing for Sept. 30 at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the status of the case.

“I’m not trying to throw a wrench into the negotiations because it sounds like you’ve worked on it very hard,” Simpson said.

ORIGINAL STORY

ARCO — A Soda Springs woman pleaded guilty to two counts of felony injury to a child after multiple teenage boys said they engaged in sexual activity with her in 2016.

Amanda Katherine Steele, 34, was originally charged with three felony counts of child sexual battery committed by lewd conduct. But a binding plea agreement Steele signed with Butte County Prosecutor Steve Stephens dropped one of the counts and amended the other two to lesser injury to child charges.

The plea agreement stipulates Steele be given a sentence no longer than a retained jurisdiction or rider program, which is typically six months to one year. The agreement also clarifies that if a psychosexual evaluation shows Steele is a low risk to re-offend, then she is to be placed on probation with local jail time on the table. If given any of the jail time, it would be served on weekends when she does not have custody of her children.

A rider is when a judge sends a person to prison for up to a year to undergo different treatment programs, including sex abuse treatment. When the inmate has completed the program, the judge can then decide to send them back to prison or release them on probation.

RELATED | Woman pleads not guilty to sex crimes with teenage boys who would skip school to be with her

If Steele is convicted of any other sex crime occurring after Nov. 19, 2019, prosecutors can refile the first count of child sexual battery committed by lewd conduct again.

According to court documents, the boys said they would skip school and Latter-day Saint seminary and go to Steele’s home to have sex. At the time, Steele lived in Arco.

Although 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.

RELATED | Woman charged after teenagers skipped school and seminary to have sex with her, according to court documents

The investigation opened in late 2017 when Steele’s then-father-in-law contacted deputies after hearing rumors that a group of boys would hang out with Steele at her home in Butte County.

The investigation stalled in the spring of 2018 with the reported victims, Steele and others not giving specific answers during interviews. Following a divorce, Steele’s ex-husband told deputies in July 2019 that Steele admitted to him she had sex with the underage boys.

Steele is scheduled officially pleaded guilty at a hearing on Tuesday. A sentencing date is not yet on the public court docket.

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