BOUNTIFUL — A former Davis High School teacher admitted Wednesday that she had sex with three of her students.
In a plea deal, Brianne Land Altice, 35, pleaded guilty to three counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. In exchange for her plea, 11 other felony charges were dropped against the former English teacher.
Altice had been facing four trials and 14 felony charges — including rape, forcible sodomy, forcible sexual abuse, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and dealing in materials harmful to a minor — stemming from sexual relationships with three former Davis High students who were 16 or 17 years old at the time.
Two of those boys and their parents are now suing the Davis County School District, arguing that it did not properly vet Altice before hiring her, which led them to be victimized.
The two lawsuits are seeking damages that, together, could total almost $1 million.
The parents of one of those victims shared their relief Wednesday that Altice had pleaded guilty. The parents asked not to have their names published in order to protect their son.
“I’m not sure that I’m happy that from 14 felonies, it’s gone down to three, but at least she did admit that she was guilty,” said one victim’s mother, who is listed as a plaintiff alongside her son in the latest lawsuit.
The mother said she is grateful her son, now 18, will not have to testify at trial.
“I don’t think any of us were looking forward to a trial and having to rehash the whole situation again. I know it was hard on all of the kids to have to talk about that,” the woman said. “It’s difficult, and I’m not sure he could go through that again.”
Police say Altice befriended the boys while they were students, eventually progressing to three separate sexual relationships between Nov. 1, 2013, and Aug. 25, 2014, meeting the teens for sex at parks, in cars and at her home while her then-husband was away — they have since divorced. New charges were filed in January after Altice allegedly resumed her relationship with one of the students while she was out on bai.
One of the teens testified last year that the relationship started when he would seek Altice out daily to flirt and compliment her. He would skip other classes to stay in her classroom, and over time the two began talking. They first kissed in Altice’s classroom, and eventually began meeting for sex.
The family currently suing the school district said they hope the case will serve to warn other parents while encouraging change. Davis High School, they allege, tried to hide what was happening to their son.
“As the case progressed, we knew that Davis had some information and knew what was going on as far as the boys were concerned and kind of turned a blind eye,” the mother said Wednesday. “They never notified us, never notified any of the other parents, and just kind of tried to sweep it under the carpet.”
School administrators need to be vigilant of interactions between students and teachers on text messages and social media, which can lead to inappropriate relationships, the woman said. In the case of Altice, the teacher was accused of exchanging explicit messages and photos with the students by cellphone.
Ultimately, the pattern that emerged of Altice befriending male students should have served as a red flag to school administrators, the victim’s father said. Going forward, the man hopes Altice will receive counseling.
“It’s not about punishment. I think she needs therapy more than punishment,” he said.
Further, the parents hope to combat a perceived double standard that surrounds relationships between female teachers and male students.
“I think people don’t see how it really affects the kids, the boys,” the mother said. “It’s not a ‘tie the boy down and rape him’ sort of abuse. You don’t know until you’re a parent, really, what it is, and it’s more of an emotional abuse.”
A search of her son’s social media profile, however, shows that he “likes” a Facebook page called “Free Brianne Altice,” which glorifies her actions.
The Davis County School District declined to comment Wednesday in light of the pending litigation.
Altice could face up to 15 years in prison for each charge. She will be sentenced May 28. She is currently being held without bail in the Davis County Jail.