SALT LAKE CITY — Jamie Heiner claim of being abused by her teacher and basketball coach, Stephen Niedzwiecki, 34, when she was 15 years old.
“Just little by little, he began to plant little seeds. He would tell me songs to listen to with sexual undertones,” she said.
Now she’s aiding Utah lawmakers with legislation that would make predators in point of special trust more liable.
According to the Davis County prosecutors an escape in the current law is prohibiting them from pursuing higher charges against Niedzwiecki as Heiner wasn’t his student when the whole abuse incident happened.
HB213 would shut that loophole making it a first degree felony for anyone in a place of special trust to sexually abuse a child.
“I mean, he was my teacher. I never thought he would hurt me,” Heiner said.
Niedzwiecki, was former teacher and basketball coach at Jefferson Academy, a charter school in Kaysville. He was supplicated guilty last month to two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old that means third-degree felonies.
The prosecution determined that a jury is unable to rationally convict Niedzwiecki of being in a position of trust over Heiner and abridge the charges.
Niedzwiecki’s attorney challenged whether her client was actually in a position of special trust taking an edge of Niedzwiecki no more being Heiner’s teacher or coach at the time of the incident.
Heiner and her father both grieved for the reduced charges. They also bewailed the law that is unable to find Niedzwiecki in a position of trust. That is what made Heiner plan to work with state legislators to alter the wording of the law regarding people in positions of trust over students.
At this time HB213 is on hold. Lawmakers say they need time to work on the language of that bill.
Trina Taylor with Prevent Child Abuse Utah suggests looking for a predator spending too much time with the victim.
“That’s the ‘uh oh’ feeling you get in your gut when you just know something’s wrong,” said Taylor.
Heiner said, “He texted me a lot, like 17,000 texts a month.”
“I was never without him. I was either with him in person or he was asking me where I was or what I was doing via text,” she added.