Brenda Lynette Harding, a 30-year-old mother of two has been jailed for having a sexual relationship with 15-year-old Tristen Hagen who went on to suicide shortly after she ended the affair.
Tristen Hagen was targeted by Brenda Lynette Harding last year while she looked after him in Canon City, Colorado. According to police, the woman had cared for the boy since he was 13 and that he also lived with her for a period.
When Tristen’s father Mike Hagen suspected that an inappropriate relationship was taking place, he ordered Brenda Lynette Harding to stop seeing his son.
7News reported that Brenda Lynette Harding ended the relationship and Tristen Hagen was reported missing a day later on April 2 this year.
Teenager’s dead body was found two days later within sight of Brenda Lynette Harding’s home. An autopsy revealed Tristen Hagen had taken an overdose of pills.
Authorities on the scene said: “From the vantage point where the body was discovered, Harding’s house could be clearly seen in an almost direct line of sight and his body lay in such a manner that it appeared he might have been looking at her house.”
Brenda Lynette Harding was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ten years to life on probation in Canon City, Colorado.
The woman must also register as a sex offender and not have contact with anyone under the age of 18, including her own two children, until a risk assessment can be completed.
Teenager Tristen Hagen, from the town of Buena Vista in Colorado, met Brenda Lynette Harding because as a friend of his stepmother.
Police said Tristen Hagen and Brenda Lynette Harding began to have a sexual relationship in June 2010.
The Canon City Daily Record reported from Brenda Lynette Harding’s trial where District Attorney Thom LeDoux spoke about how the teenager could not deal with the adult nature of the relationship.
The teenager’s father, Mike Hagen, said: “We found his lifeless body on a hill. She was told by me and other people to leave him alone. We don’t want to see this happen to anyone else.”
The father also posted on a Facebook memorial page for Tristen Hagen: “Son, we miss your smile, your laugh, your off the wall comments, we miss everything about you. I pray to god justice will be served on 10/24. I love you Tristen. You will live forever thru all of us.”
The Facebook page is filled with loving tributes from Tristen Hagen’s siblings telling of how much they miss their brother and asking that “justice be served” at Harding’s trial.
At Brenda Lynette Harding’s sentencing on Monday, Judge Julie G. Marshall noted she was not sentencing her for the boy’s death.
“While my heart goes out to the family in this case, I can’t sentence her for his choice to kill himself,” judge said.
“I am sentencing her for sexual assault on a child.”
Brenda Lynette Harding was charged with three felony counts of sexual assault on a child. The mother of two pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault on a child.