Update July 29th: Jennifer Gonzales sentenced to 180 days in jail, three years probation, mandatory treatment, and registration as a sex offender. Updated post HERE.
A former junior-high-school special education teacher who was accused of having sexual relations with a 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty to reduced charges on Monday June 2nd, 2008. Full story published in the Provo Daily Herald. Also reported with video by KSL Channel 5.
Jennifer Candida Gonzales, 33, of Payson, entered guilty pleas in Provo's 4th District Court to two counts of attempted forcible sexual abuse, a third-degree felony. The charges were reduced from forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for July 28th. Attempted forcible sexual abuse carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison.
However, she may not end up serving any jail time. Deputy county attorney Mariane O'Bryant said she will wait until she receives a pre-sentencing report from Adult Probation and Parole before making a decision on a sentence recommendation, but she doubts Gonzales will serve any prison time because she has no priors and the victim is not a pre-pubescent child. But Gonzales will have to register as a sex offender, O'Bryant said.
According to my previous post on this situation, 31-year-old Richard Gonzales came home early from work and found his wife Jennifer and the 16-year old victim, who was not one of her students, downstairs with candles and oils. He told police he saw the teen run into a bathroom while pulling his pants up. His wife, who was topless, pulled her pants up as well. Richard then allegedly pointed a 9mm handgun at her and threatened to kill her after he caught her cheating. He also allegedly pointed his gun at the teen and told him to get out of the house, she told police. Richard Gonzales admitted to the allegations. Jennifer Gonzales was booked into the Utah County Jail, but was soon released on $10,000 bail.
Richard Gonzales was initially charged with aggravated assault, aggravated assault with domestic violence, and criminal mischief. This has since been downgraded to two counts of two counts of aggravated assault. A preliminary hearing in his case is scheduled for Thursday June 5th.
At the time of her arrest, Jennifer Gonzales had been employed as a teacher at Mt. Nebo Junior High School in Payson since 2005, where she taught sixth and seventh graders at the school's Cornerstone Unit, an alternative program for students with behavioral problems. Initially placed on paid leave after her arrest, the Nebo School District fired her shortly thereafter.
To absolutely no one's surprise, the couple filed for divorce in May.
Commentary: Jennifer Gonzales is being punished - sort of. By being placed on a sex offender registry, she will become unemployable as a teacher as well as nearly any other position involving unsupervised contact with kids. Yet she may not receive any jail time.
Richard Gonzales, who should be considered a victim in this case because he was being cuckolded, may receive more severe punishment. If convicted of assault using a firearm, he may become unemployable in any position requiring access to and/or use of firearms. His Second Amendment right to bear arms could be suspended. And, unlike Jennifer, he may end up with jail time because he threatened violence.
While people who threaten others with firearms need to be held accountable, should Richard, clearly a victim in this case, end up being punished more severely than Jennifer, whose behavior triggered Richard's actions? Our justice system tends to be more biased in favor of the female in such cases.
Adultery is characterized as a "victimless" crime. Yet in this case, a marriage has been broken up, two people will face criminal sanctions affecting, at the very least, their employability, and a 16-year old has been suborned. Rather high price to pay for "free love", don't you think?
Now we see the real reason why God gave us "Ten Commandments". Not because He was an "asshole", but to prevent situations like this.