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FARMINGTON — A Davis County school teacher charged with three counts of rape of a student was in court Tuesday morning fighting to get the entire case dismissed. Her attorney said she's not at fault because the student pursued her.
Brianne Altice, 34, was ordered earlier this year to stand trial on three counts of rape and one count of forcible sodomy, first-degree felonies, following a hearing on the evidence against her in February. The former Davis High School teacher is accused of engaging in sexual intercourse with a student between March and June 2013, when the teenager was between 16 and 17 years old.
In April, defense attorney Ed Brass filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing that prosecutors failed to show that Altice held a position of special trust as the boy's teacher and that she used that position to "exercise undue influence."
Second District Judge John R. Morris threw out the dismissal motion but not before a fight from Altice's attorney claiming she did not violate her position of "special trust.”
Brass said Tuesday there's no argument that Altice held a position of special trust at Davis High School, but she was not using that authority as a way to lure this student or influence the relationship. Brass said it was in fact the other way around, and the student preyed on her kindness.
"She never used her position as a teacher to gain some sort of advantage over him or exercise undue influence as the statute says,” Brass said.
In the motion, Brass wrote that the teenager pursued Altice and didn't feel that the teacher had taken advantage of him. He also argued that the student was on drugs during the alleged incidents and had trouble with his memory.
The prosecution said Tuesday a dismissal would be improper in this case. At the preliminary hearing in February, the 17-year-old victim took the stand and said he initially pursued Altice, and after months of asking, she consented.
Many of the things that the state has told you are incidental to the status of being a teacher and really has nothing to do with a position of special trust … over the alleged victim.
–Defense attorney Ed Brass to judge
"The evidence that we provided at the prelim hearing was sufficient to meet that burden that the state had in proving the crimes charge — specifically in the case — the position of special trust,” said prosecutor Christina Ortega.
As the state argued why the case should move to trial, Altice appeared to get frustrated by what was being said and kept shaking her head.
"Many of the things that the state has told you are incidental to the status of being a teacher and really has nothing to do with a position of special trust … over the alleged victim,” Brass told the judge.
After back and forth between attorneys, the judge ultimately ruled to deny the motion to dismiss charges. A three-day jury trial date is set to start the morning of Sept. 15.
Brass said they'll likely file other motions by July 1, hinting during court that the motion will have to do with the circumstances surrounding an interview by police. A hearing Aug. 7 will address any motions before the trial starts.