Former group home employee sentenced for unlawful sex
She claimed she was blackmailed into having sex with a 14-year-old boy at a Wheatland group home for children.
But authorities did not buy it and sentenced former El Shaddai Family Ranch employee Kimberly Michelle Leinenweaver to serve two years in state prison.
Leinenweaver, 29, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a felony count of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a minor.
Probation officials were skeptical of Leinenweaver's assertions of blackmail.
"Her claim is difficult to believe," officials said in her sentencing report. "At best, her decision was extremely poor. At worst, she is shifting the blame for her behavior onto a 14-year-old child."
In exchange for her plea, prosecutors dismissed three additional felony charges.
The Probation Department recommended no prison time for Leinenweaver, but Yuba County Judge Julia L. Scrogin disagreed and ordered the mid-term sentence. Leienweaver was sentenced Nov. 5.
Scrogin believed Leinenweaver's violations of authority and trust were egregious, especially because of her role as a professional mentor for troubled children, authorities said.
Yuba County sheriff's deputies said the relationship included numerous consensual sexual acts between April 2009 and February 2010.
Leinenweaver told investigators she became entangled with the teenager after he threatened to inform El Shaddai management that she had violated staff policies. Leinenweaver allowed the residents to stay up past bedtime and purchase candy and energy drinks, according to court records.
She claimed the boy demanded sex in exchange for silence and she agreed out of fear of being fired.
Leinenweaver admitted to multiple sexual liaisons in the boy's bedroom while they were alone in the house, according to court documents.
Citing client confidentially, El Shaddai administrators declined to comment on the matter Tuesday.
When asked if the group home had changed any of its employee vetting practices, spokesman Don Foust said, "It's none of (the Appeal-Democrat's) business."
Teresa Sydow, deputy Yuba County district attorney, doubted a different hiring process would have prevented the abuse.
She has no prior criminal history. A mother of two young boys, ages 8 and 6, Leinenweaver is expecting a third child in April.
"I don't know what their vetting process is like, but it's unlikely they would've found anything," Sydow said, "because sexual offenders can be very deceptive."