A claim filed Tuesday with the state says a former nurse at the Idaho Juvenile Corrections Center in Nampa had sex with a 17-year-old boy while he was incarcerated in 2010.
The tort claim, filed by Nampa attorney Bruce Skaug, seeks $1.2 million in damages and the cost of continued psychiatric care. A tort claim is a precursor to filing a lawsuit against a public agency.
The man is the 11th former inmate to allege sexual abuse by employees. One woman worker was convicted, and the nurse in the latest claim faces trial on criminal charges.
According to the claim:
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The abuse took place when the nurse, Valerie Lieteau, called the boy into her office in early 2010 to discuss medications used to treat the teen for bipolar disorder. The medications caused significant side effects, including twitching, facial tics, shaking and mood swings.
Lieteau changed the topic of her conversation with the boy from his medications to pornography, and then performed oral sex and engaged in intercourse with the boy in her office.
The boy, referred to as “John Doe XI” in the claim, came to the attention of state Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Boise. The victim recently spoke with McKenzie, telling the senator he was a victim of sexual abuse while at the center.
He is the fourth male inmate to accused Lieteau of sexual misconduct in civil proceedings. Altogether, 10 boys and a girl have alleged sexual abuse by staff members at the 84-bed center, which is operated by the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections.
Lieteau, 41, was arrested in June and charged with two counts of sexual battery on a minor and two counts of sexual contact with a juvenile offender. Those charges stem from allegations that she abused three other juvenile inmates inside and outside the 84-bed center.
Lieteau pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled to go to trial on Dec. 14 in District Court in Caldwell.
She is the second former juvenile corrections worker to face criminal charges involving sex with inmates. Julie McCormick, now 33, the center’s former director of safety and security, was convicted on a lewd conduct charge and sent to prison in March 2014. She was accused of engaging in sex with a 15-year-old boy in 2012.
On the boy’s behalf, Skaug and Boise attorney Eric Rossman last year sued McCormick, the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections, department Director Sharon Harrigfeld and former detention center Director Betty Grimm. A default judgment was entered against McCormick after she did not respond to the complaint. The amount she will owe will be determined at a trial scheduled for December.
McCormick is also named as a defendant in a separate lawsuit filed this year against Lieteau, along with the juvenile department, Harrigfeld, Grimm and a former juvenile center intern, Esperenza Jimenez, who is also accused of sexual misconduct but has not been charged criminally. That lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on behalf of five victims. A hearing is scheduled in September.
Revelations of sexual abuse brought a criminal investigation by Nampa police and led to the retirement of the center's superintendent in November 2012 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 its centers in Nampa, Lewiston and St. Anthony.
Lieteau denied to Nampa police that she did anything improper. In an interview with detective Angela Weekes in April 2014, she said she conducted monthly classes on sexually transmitted diseases and that her interaction with inmates “was purely professional,” and she was never alone with the inmates.
All of the following allegations that Lieuteau acted inappropriately are contained in the lawsuit:
Lieteau took one 18-year-old 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 Weekes that Lieteau began by inappropriately touching his upper leg while he was at a dentist appointment and later progressed to sex. She provided the boy with street drugs while he was at the center and stalked him by telephone and through text messages after he left . The boy said he feared for his safety after she threatened him.
Lieteau had sex with a second inmate on “numerous occasions” beginning in December 2008, when he was 18. She also took him to a private examination room and to her home when he was granted home passes. That 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 center. The lawsuit accuses the intern and Lieteau of holding animosity toward each other over the boy.
The third victim Lieteau 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.