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UTAH STATE PRISON — Brianne Altice says she has grown since being incarcerated at the Utah State Prison and believes she now has the confidence needed to never make the same mistakes again.
Altice, 39, a former Davis High School English teacher, made front page news in 2015 for sexually abusing three students. She pleaded guilty to three counts of forcible sexual abuse stemming from sexual relationships with students who were 16 or 17 at the time. One relationship continued while she was out on bail following her initial arrest. Her combined penalties resulted in a sentence of two to 30 years in prison.
Altice first went before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole in 2017 but was denied parole. On Tuesday, she went before the board for a second time.
At the start of the hearing, Altice was given a 2 ½ page letter submitted to the board at the last moment by one of her victims. Altice nodded her head several times and appeared to be doing her best not to look upset as she took about five minutes to read the letter to herself.
When she was done, board member Angela Micklos, who conducted the hearing, told Altice she would have the opportunity to respond to the letter in writing if she wanted to. But Altice said doing so would only cause more pain for the victim. She said she would allow his words to have their "full impact" on the board by not trying to rationalize or justify her actions, and also give him closure by giving him the "final word."
"I don't want to justify, I don't want to undermine any of his dealings or his experience. I think he has a right to state all of this very eloquently," she said.
When the parole hearing continued, Altice was very confident when answering the board's questions. Micklos noted that since her last hearing, Altice has completed the prison's sex offender treatment program and a business tech program. She said what treatment in prison has taught her is how to have self-confidence and that it's OK to ask others for help.
"The relationship I had with myself was very negative," she said of how she was in 2015, adding that she would isolate herself from any emotional or mental support. "I alienated my values."
Altice said she came up with "false beliefs" that needed external validation, and placed herself in "risky" situations. As an example, she said the first time she received compliments from students in the classroom, she should have sought help from administrators to put an end to it immediately.
"I should have identified in myself I was having emotional regulation problems," she said. "I could have taken so many steps before I became so self-destructive."
But Altice said she began justifying her actions and behaving in a way she thought others expected.
Today, Altice said she has confidence that she didn't have even just two years ago.
"I have found self-love and self-compassion again," she said. "To be able to say I have self-love is huge."
Altice added that the way she thinks has everything to do with how she is emotionally.
"I'm accountable for this. I did this. And with that knowledge comes growth," she told Micklos. "I continue on this path of growth."
None of Altice's victims attended Tuesday's hearing. But Altice said if they were there, she would have apologized to them and would have thanked them for having the courage to expose what was happening.
"I apologize for the role I was supposed to play in their life and I know I didn't," she said. "Now it's part of their history they can't erase."
If she is released, Altice already has an offer to work full-time with Canines With A Cause, a group that matches shelter dogs with military veterans for emotional and psychological support. It's a program she has been working with while in prison.
Altice said she would also continue counseling with a therapist and would not stray away from her values like before.
"That's not the person I want to be. That's not the person I am," she said. "I am very confident. I have a lot of faith in my decision-making and my behavior."
Under state sentencing guidelines, which are nonbinding, Altice would be released in January 2020. If she were to serve her full sentence, she would be released in January of 2045. The full five-member board is expected to reach a decision of whether to grant parole in two to three weeks.