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Former teacher admits sex abuse of student

Roger Wilkins, right, talks to his attorney, Ron Yengich, after pleading guilty to reduced charges.
Roger Wilkins, right, talks to his attorney, Ron Yengich, after pleading guilty to reduced charges.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

PROVO — A former American Sign Language teacher charged with sexually abusing a student pleaded guilty to amended charges of attempted forcible sex abuse in a plea bargain, prompting cancellation of a jury trial that was to start Monday morning.

Roger Wilkins, 38, pleaded guilty to two third-degree felonies of attempted forcible sex abuse for touching the genitals and breasts of an 18-year-old student he met while teaching at Salt Lake Community College.

Wilkins was arrested in February 2004 and originally faced four felony charges, including forcible sodomy and attempted rape, both first-degree felonies, and two counts of forcible sex abuse, second-degree felonies. He later pleaded not guilty to the four charges.

In 4th District Court Monday, state prosecutors presented the plea agreement in which the state would drop the attempted rape and forcible sodomy charges and amend the charge of forcible sex abuse to attempted forcible sex abuse in return for Wilkins' guilty plea to the forcible sex abuse charges

"It's a very good resolution," said Deputy Utah County Attorney Donna Kelly. She said there was no reason for a trial if Wilkins was willing to plead guilty to the amended charges.

The victim and her mother are also satisfied with the compromise and will now be determining a restitution amount, Kelly said.

"It's a fair resolution for everybody," said Ron Yengich, attorney for Wilkins. "Nobody's really really happy (about it), but everybody gets something."

The plea bargain also means Wilkins likely won't serve any time in prison. At the sentencing hearing, Kelly said she plans to recommend 60 days of jail time with the benefit of work release. The victim and her mother plan to ask for 365 days, Kelly said.

Adult Probation and Parole will also recommend a sentence length, but Judge Lynn Davis is not bound by such recommendations and will make the ultimate decision after hearing from the various parties.

The 18-year-old victim was invited to live with Wilkins and his family in January of 2004, when the abuse occurred. Both Wilkins and the victim are hearing-impaired and communicate using ASL.

Yengich said he believes the main issue of the case was consent. Wilkins believed the incidents of a sexual nature were consensual, Yengich said. Prosecutors said the woman told Wilkins no several times, both using sign language and by shaking her head.

Wilkins will be sentenced in February, at which time the now 20-year-old victim and her mother will address the court.


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com