Teacher ordered to stand trial over charges he abused teen

Salt Lake Tribune

In another case, the girl had sex with a West High counselor; 'I have lied a lot,' she says.

Is she a troubled teen who fabricated a story about sexual encounters with a teacher, or the victim of a predator who coerced her into a sexual relationship?

Both sides of that question were argued during a Tuesday preliminary hearing for a West High School teacher accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old student. Jose Fanjul, 45, is charged in 3rd District Court with five counts of first-degree forcible sodomy and five counts of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse in connection with allegedly having sex with the girl inside his classroom and at other locations. After listening to testimony, Judge Ann Boyden ordered Fanjul to stand trial on the abuse allegations, saying prosecutors presented sufficient evidence to advance the case. She set a Nov. 10 arraignment.

The case against the teacher will be the second for the teen accuser, who also had a sexual relationship with a West High guidance counselor before the alleged relationship with Fanjul. That prior relationship could become a factor in the case against Fanjul, because defense attorney Ken Brown questions whether the girl pursued a relationship with teachers. He said during Tuesday's hearing that the girl has a history of lying and had fabricated stories about her relationship with Fanjul. The girl testified she had lied to investigators and doctors during interviews about prior sexual behavior.

"You've made a habit of lying," Brown told the girl.

"Yes," she replied, but claimed she had been "under the influence of a predator" when changing her story. "I have lied a lot."

The girl struggled to answer many questions posed by Brown, often pausing before saying she didn't remember dates and some details about her time with Fanjul. But prosecutors maintain the girl is being truthful about her encounters with Fanjul, which began, she said, when she provided feedback on how to improve his teaching after he expressed frustration about the class performing poorly on a test. The two began exchanging e-mails about classwork, which later took on a sexual tone, prosecutors said. The girl testified she and Fanjul engaged in various sexual activities between March and July, both at his home and at school.

Several family members attended Tuesday's hearing in support of Fanjul, who is not in custody. The girl left West High School in late May and is undergoing counseling, her father said in court on Tuesday.

[Ed: One should always keep in mind, guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases are often based upon nothing more than the willingness of the jury to believe the alleged victim; no further evidence is required.]

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