A Canyon County judge on Tuesday rejected a plea agreement that would have allowed Valerie Lieteau to avoid having to register as a sex offender.
Lieteau, 42, was accused of having sex with three boys at the Idaho Juvenile Correction Center in Nampa.
In March, Lieteau pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismiss two counts of sexual battery on a minor and two counts of sexual contact with a juvenile offender.
Under the plea agreement, Lieteau would not have had to register as a sex offender because the assault charge is not classified as sexual misconduct.
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Lieteau appeared Tuesday in Canyon County 3rd District Court, where she was scheduled to be sentenced to up to five years in prison. However, Judge Christopher Nye without comment rejected the plea agreement and withdrew Lieteau’s guilty plea.
As a result, the original charges were reinstated and Lieteau now faces trial on Oct. 24. If convicted of the sexual battery charges, she could face up to life in prison.
Lieteau is out on bail. She no longer works as a nurse. Her license as a licensed practical nurse in Idaho expired in August 2014.
Lieteau is also a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed against the nurse and other employees and administrators at the Nampa juvenile detention center. That case is set to go to trial next March.
Lieteau allegedly took one 18-year-old inmate into a private examination room or other areas out of camera range between July 2009 and March 2010 and had sex with him at least 15 times. Lieteau, who was in her mid-30s at the time, also reportedly went to the boy’s hometown at least twice and had sex with him there, after his release.
The victim told a police detective that Lieteau began by inappropriately touching his upper leg while he was at a dentist appointment and later progressed to sex.
She allegedly provided the boy with street drugs while he was at the center and stalked him by phone and through text messages after he left. The boy said he feared for his safety after she threatened him.
She had sex with a second inmate on “numerous occasions” beginning in December 2008, when he was 18, according to court documents filed in the civil suit. She also took him to a private examination room and to her home when he was granted home passes. The relationship lasted until February 2012, after the boy was released from the center, and when Lieteau no longer worked there.
The lawsuit accuses Lieteau of intimidating the second boy and threatening him with serious consequences — even after he was released from custody later in 2009 — if he told anyone about their sexual relationship.
The same boy was allegedly sexually abused by a female medical student intern at the detention center. The lawsuit accuses the intern, Esperanza Jimenez, and Lieteau of holding animosity toward each other over the boy.
The third victim Lieteau allegedly abused was 17 when they had sex at Lieteau’s house while he was out on a pass. The boy later showed signs of mental and emotional distress.
Lieteau is the second former juvenile corrections worker to be convicted of criminal charges involving sex with inmates. Julie McCormick, now 34, the center’s former director of safety and security, was convicted on a lewd conduct charge and sent to prison in March 2014 and released 11 months later. She engaged in sex with a 15-year-old boy in 2012.
The boy filed a lawsuit and accepted a $450,000 settlement in December, the Associated Press reported.
In the pending civil suit, McCormick is accused of having sex with a second boy.
Revelations of sexual abuse brought a criminal investigation and led to the retirement of the Nampa center’s superintendent and the firing of several employees. It also caused the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections to institute changes to protect the safety of youthful offenders at the 84-bed center, as well as those in Lewiston and St. Anthony.
The three boys are among 11 males and one female who allege that they were sexually abused by multiple workers at the juvenile center.