Payson woman sentenced for abuse of 5 boys at treatment center

Katherine Lynn Estep. Photo: Juab County

NEPHI, Utah, Sept. 24, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — A former employee of Journey Ranch, a Mona residential treatment center for troubled teenage boys, has been sentenced to prison for sexually abusing five of the juvenile residents.

Katherine Lynn Estep, 45, of Payson, on Friday was sentenced to seven terms of one to 15 years in prison, with those terms to run concurrently.

Estep in June pleaded guilty to seven counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. Additional charges were dismissed.

The original charges she faced were five counts of forcible sodomy, a first-degree felony; 10 counts of forcible sexual assault, a second-degree felony; and two class C misdemeanor counts of providing electronic cigarettes to minors.

Estep admitted touching boys age 16 and 17 inappropriately, according to court documents. Police said she also engaged in sex acts with the teens, and threatened two with “demerits” if they did not cooperate.

The center, in Juab County, advertises that it treats boys, age 13 to 18, who suffer from moderate or severe behavioral problems and mental health issues.

Estep rewarded the boys with use of her phone, e-cigarettes, pills or candy, according to charging documents.

The court recommended Estep undergo therapy, according to sentencing documents:

“Court recommends to the Board that the defendant participate in psychotherapy to address psychological nature of her physical symptoms as well as address her thinking errors through a cognitive restructuring therapy.”

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