CALDWELL, Idaho -- Prosecutors have dismissed all charges against a woman accused of sexually abusing boys at the Nampa juvenile corrections center where she worked.
The decision brings an end to a case that has stretched on for more than a year against 42-year-old Valerie Lieteau.
Prosecutor Erica Kallin said her office decided to drop the charges -- two counts of sexual battery on a minor and two counts of sexual contact with an inmate -- after Lieteau successfully passed a polygraph test Thursday morning. Although polygraph evidence is not admissible in court, the test convinced the prosecution that taking the case to trial would not be ethical, Kallin said.
Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor agreed.
“My Office uses polygraphs regularly, as do our local law enforcement partners across the Treasure Valley and State of Idaho,” Taylor said in a statement. “We trust the results of appropriately worded and professionally administered polygraphs, and as prosecutors, we have a professional and ethical obligation to not move forward when there is compelling evidence that would negate the charges. That’s what happened in this case and that’s why we made the decision to dismiss in the interests of justice.”
Lieteau, whose trial was set to begin Monday, embraced her lawyer Jon Cox after the prosecution announced their decision. Outside the courtroom, she said the allegations have destroyed friendships, her job and her reputation.
"It did change my life, even though I wasn't convicted," she said.
Lieteau was arrested in May 2015 after several youths said she had sexually abused them when she worked as a nurse at the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections facility in Nampa between 2008 and 2011.
Although the criminal charges against Lieteau involved three juvenile inmates, several more joined a civil case against Lieteau and the juvenile facility.
Cox blasted the attorney in the civil case, Bruce Skaug, for labeling his client a "child molester" without having all the facts. The defense attorney said Skaug should polygraph his own clients to see if their claims of sexual abuse hold up.
"I think Mr. Skaug owes Valerie an apology," Cox said.
Skaug could not immediately be reached for comment, and it's unclear whether the civil case will proceed.
Canyon County officials say attorneys from both sides were present for Friday's test and Lieteau's responses to questions about her contact with the juveniles were scored as "plainly truthful and exculpatory."
Prosecutors say they were concerned over the lack of physical evidence, witnesses or other corroborating details in the case.
The defense attorney praised Kallin and the Canyon County Prosecutor's Office for dropping the charges after it became clear Lieteau was innocent.
"[Kallin's] office's job is to do justice, and that has been done," he said.
Judge Christopher Nye earlier this year rejected a plea deal that would have seen Lieteau plead guilty to a felony aggravated assault charge in exchange for probation and staying off the sex offender registry. Cox said his client was initially willing to take the deal -- despite being innocent -- because of the severe penalties she faced if a jury did not believe her.
"Four counts of a life sentence hanging over my head," Lieteau interjected.
She declined to say whether she harbored resentment toward those who accused her, saying she wanted to put the case behind her.
"I'm going to cherish every day, and move on from this," she said.