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Ex-instructor at Utah ranch for troubled teens pleads ‘no contest’ to charges of sex with minor

Visalia Times-Delta

Ex-instructor at Utah ranch for troubled teens pleads ‘no contest’ to charges of sex with minor

By Liesl Nielsen, KSL.com | Posted - Aug. 2, 2017 at 9:07 p.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

KOOSHAREM, Sevier County — A former instructor at a Utah ranch for troubled teens plead “no contest” to multiple counts of molestation at a court in California, according to the Visalia Times-Delta.

Utah resident Wendi Sorenson, 37, was charged with multiple counts of having sex with a minor in December 2015. She recently plead “no contest” to at least three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 18, four counts of oral copulation of a person under 16, contact with a minor for sexual offense, meeting with a minor for lewd purposes and arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes.

Prosecutors believe the abuse began in June 2015 while Sorenson was an instructor at High Top Boys Ranch in Koosharem. The ranch for troubled youth was owned and operated by Sorenson and her husband, the Visalia Times reported. The school has since closed.

Sorenson’s husband reported the abuse to child protective services when he noticed Sorenson was “very close” to one of the boys at the school, the Visalia Times reported. The teenager was then removed from the school and went back to California.

A week before Thanksgiving 2015, Sorenson flew from Utah to California. Authorities in Utah alerted police in California and warned them that Sorenson had left the state, likely to visit the same boy.

When detectives contacted the boy, he told police that he and Sorenson had sex at two hotels in California for several days, the Visalia Times reported. Authorities also uncovered more than 12,000 sexually explicit text messages between Sorenson and the boy. The messages also placed Sorenson at the hotels.

After Sorenson plead no contest, the judge allowed her to return to Utah while she waits to be sentenced. The maximum sentence Sorenson may serve in prison is 13 years and eight months, according to the Visalia Times.

Sorenson will be sentenced Sept. 7 and will likely be placed into custody at that time, according to the Visalia Times.

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