An Idaho Falls man was arrested and charged with rape after he admitted to having a relationship with a teenage girl who reported to him at the restaurant where they worked. Police reports show that a local elementary school teacher attempted to discourage the victim from reporting the rape.
Baltazar Guzman-Lara, 29, originally told an Idaho Falls Police Department detective he had only worked with the victim and there had not been a sexual relationship. After the interview, however, Guzman-Lara admitted to having sex with the 16-year-old girl.
Guzman-Lara met the victim while he was working as her supervisor. The two had sex between January and February. The victim’s parents discovered an entry in the victim’s diary the relationship and the victim told them she had sex with Guzman-Lara.
Under Idaho law, a minor cannot legally consent to have sex with an adult. Even if the victim agrees to the sexual activity, it’s a criminal act on the part of the adult.
The police department recovered dark hairs and a blanket with seminal fluid on it from the victim’s car. Guzman-Lara had allowed police to take a DNA sample shortly before admitting to the rape.
The victim underwent a forensic interview and said Guzman-Lara had kissed her while she was at work. They later went to Guzman-Lara’s house. The victim told police Guzman-Lara’s wife discovered them and confronted them. Both Guzman-Lara and his wife denied to police the victim was at their home.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Guzman-Lara had sex with the victim in her car multiple times and told her he would marry her when she became an adult.
The restaurant’s management learned of the relationship and fired Guzman-Lara.
Police learned Guzman-Lara had gone with the victim to a hotel in January. The inn confirmed to police that Guzman-Lara had rented a room on Jan. 18, but no longer had security footage from that date.
The police report states a Falls Valley Elementary School teacher, Brandi Nichols, contacted the victim to try to discourage her from reporting the rape to police. Nichols had also worked at the restaurant with the victim and Guzman-Lara.
“I am so proud of you and your ambition with school,” Nichols wrote in a text message. “I would really reconsider going through with the (police department).”
Nichols admitted to sending the message when interviewed by police and allowed a detective to check her phone. Nichols had discussed the investigation with Guzman-Lara’s wife before contacting the victim. On March 25, Guzman-Lara’s wife asked Nichols if she would talk to the victim on her and her husband’s behalf and convince her to not cooperate with police. Nichols agreed to talk to the victim.
In another text message conversation in February, Nichols discussed Guzman-Lara being fired with a coworker. Nichols said it “breaks my heart” that he was fired.
When the coworker stated he was in trouble because he was a supervisor, Nichols responded by texting, “Seriously she probably provoked it.”
Bonneville Joint School District 93 Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme said the district was made aware of Nichols statements to the victim.
Though teachers are required to report abuse against students by law, Woolstenhulme said he doubted the rule applied in cases in a teacher’s private life, but said that Nichols’ actions still were concerning. He said the district is investigating the incident as an employee-conduct issue.
Police Spokeswoman Jessica Clements said the department is investigating Nichols, but no charges have been filed against her for telling the victim to drop the case.
Guzman-Lara was charged with rape where the victim is 16 or 17 and the perpetrator is three or more years older, punishable with a minimum of one year in prison and up to a life sentence. He was released on bond after posting a $30,000 bond.
A no-contact order was issued between Guzman-Lara and the victim. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. May 14 in Bonneville County Courthouse.