A former Jefferson Academy teacher and basketball coach pleaded guilty to child sexual abuse charges on Thursday.
Stephen Niedzwiecki, 34, faces up to 20 years in prisons for allegedly sexually abusing a former student at Jefferson Academy, a charter school in Kaysville, Utah.
According to the Deseret News, the prosecution determined that a jury could not reasonably convict Niedzwiecki of being in a position of trust over Heiner, as he was no longer her teacher when the abuse began. Charges were reduced from first and second-degree felonies to third-degree felonies.
The brave victim in this case, 17-year-old Jamie Heiner, told the Deseret News she plans on working with state legislators to change the wording of the law regarding people in positions of trust over students.
I commend this brave survivor for not only having the courage to come forward, but for also helping to protect future children and empowering other victims of child sexual abuse.
One of the many things I have learned from the hundreds of courageous survivors I have represented in sexual abuse lawsuits is that most victims of childhood sexual abuse were abused by someone they knew and trusted.
Through the grooming process, predators take the time to gain the trust of their victims. They may buy the child gifts, give them special attention, and tell the victim they love them.
Eventually, when the abuse begins, many children feel like they have complied with the sex, which makes it even more difficult to share their secret. But it is important to remember that even when a victim is compliant, a minor can never consent to sex with an adult.