Former Coeur d’Alene therapist Jeffrey Worley was led away in handcuffs from a downtown courtroom Monday after a First District judge sentenced the 44-year-old to 20 years in prison for having a sexual affair with a teenage patient.
Judge Scott Wayman said Worley’s conduct wasn’t just criminal, it violated professional ethics and society’s standards of moral behavior.
“We have rules in place to protect juveniles,” Wayman said.
Having an affair with a suicidal 17-year-old who was at the lowest point in her life resulted in a life sentence for the teen who told the court she no longer trusts others.
“Taking advantage of a patient is inexcusable,” Wayman said. “She may never be whole.”
Wayman sentenced Worley to a fixed five years in prison and another 15 years to be used at the discretion of the Idaho Department of Corrections despite Worley’s assurance he was remorseful.
Worley asked the court to suspend his sentence and told Wayman he would never again abuse a position of trust.
“Nothing justifies what I’ve done,” Worley said.
Defense attorney Jason Johnson said by losing his job, his professional license, the trust of others and earning a place on the sex offender registry, his client has already paid a high price for his actions.
A psychosexual evaluation showed Worley was a low risk to reoffend, Johnson said, and his client had no criminal history.
“All we’re asking for is a suspended sentence,” he said.
Worley had been a counselor for 18 years when he started the affair three years ago with the then 17-year-old patient, having sex “hundreds of times,” with the girl at his Ironwood Drive office while she was a juvenile and after she turned 18. He bought her alcohol and even after the relationship ended, showed up at the victim’s graduation, and at her house. When the victim, who was diagnosed with major depressive disorders and clinical anxiety, tried to break off the relationship, Worley threatened suicide. The relationship that began in 2016 continued until the summer of 2017.
The victim, who is now 20 years old, called Worley a slick deceiver who stalked her and used her illness for his own gain.
“This man is the best liar and manipulator of anybody I have ever seen,” the victim said. “He uses people. He does not have a conscience.”
Prosecutor Jed Whitaker criticized the results of a polygraph and the pscyhosexual evaluation.
Worley was a cruel, cold predator, Whitaker said, who used the victim’s emotional state against her.
“What a perfect person for a sexual predator to groom,” Whitaker said. “He is an expert in people’s emotions.”
He commended the victim for coming forward. The act, Whitaker said, required tremendous courage.
“I don’t know where she got the strength to disclose this,” he said.
Worley’s family members wept after the sentence was announced, and Worley was taken into custody by bailiffs.
Wayman said he will remain open on the restitution amount in the case, and ordered Worley to pay court costs and for the cost of the presentence investigation.