UPDATE 7:50 p.m.: A Wyoming junior high teacher has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a teenage girl, ending his trial that began this week.
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports 34-year-old Joseph Meza pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexual abuse of a minor after reaching an agreement with Laramie County prosecutors, who dropped seven counts against him.
The Cheyenne math teacher told Judge Thomas Campbell that he had intercourse with his former student when she was between 15 and 16. The abuse occurred between October 2015 and May 2016.
The Johnson Junior High teacher’s plea followed a morning of testimony from the victim, who read and explained messages exchanged between them. Many of the messages involved discussion of having or meeting up for sex.
Prosecutors have agreed to recommend a 20- to 40-year prison sentence.
A trial is underway for a Wyoming middle school teacher charged with sexually abusing a student between May 2014 and April 2017.
Laramie County prosecutors said Monday they have DNA evidence and electronic messages to prove the eight counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor against Joseph Meza.
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports defense attorney Tom Fleener argued the girl had ulterior motives in making the accusation.
The girl’s mother testified that Meza had asked about adopting her daughter in 2014, when she was 14. The mother said she eventually agreed in late 2015 because she could not control her daughter’s behavior. She said the girl started sneaking out and fighting with family members.
The Associated Press is not naming the girl or her mother to avoid identifying the alleged victim of a sexual assault.