A former youth pastor accused of having sex with an underage boy was in fact a victim, her lawyer argued Thursday at a Tuolumne County Superior Court proceeding.
Attorney Mark Borden urged jurors to find Amber Schlensker not guilty of all 45 felony sex assault counts against her because she was, he said, a victim of forced sex and violent threats.
Borden said the unnamed boy, now 18, forced himself on Schlensker and told her he’d harm her, her husband and even his own mother if she told.
Borden, explaining why she didn’t report the threats, said his client also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from multiple previous sex crimes against her.
Borden said he’ll call a doctor who is an expert on sex victims to confirm Schlensker’s diagnosis.
He will also call several family members to testify about her times away from the county in which she couldn’t have met with the victim.
Borden said the case may come down to a matter of credibility.
He said the boy had the police called on him once when he hit his mother and that he was sent to a paramilitary behavior camp during the timeframe of these alleged crimes.
Schlensker is charged with 45 felonies for allegedly having sex with the teenage boy at least once a month when the two were both in the Sonora area from 2009 to 2012.
Schlensker and her husband lived with the boy and his single mother during some of the time for various practical financial reasons, and in hopes of creating a home open to youths of St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Sonora, where Schlensker was director of the youth group and his mother an involved member.
Deputy District Attorney Eric Hovatter argued Schlensker used her moral authority to draw the alleged victim into a sexual relationship. He acknowledged the teen willingly participated, but the law makes no distinction for that.
The boy and Schlensker denied any wrongdoing from 2009 until about June 2012, when the mother opened her laptop to find her son’s Facebook page open to a conversation with a young woman about his having sex with Schlensker, she said.
The mother confronted her son. He admitted to having sex daily or nearly daily since they’d lived together and that he had feelings for her, she said. The mother then went to authorities.
More witnesses will be called by the defense today before Judge James Boscoe in Department 2, with the trial expected to continue into next week.