Arizona teacher to be sentenced for having sex with 13-year-old; she may have been grooming another student for sex
The former Arizona teacher who pleaded guilty to carrying on an illicit sexual relationship with her 13-year-old student is expected to be sentenced to prison Friday.
The sentencing will mark the end of the sensational case of 28-year-old Brittany Zamora. The former Las Brisas Academy elementary teacher has drawn international attention since she was arrested more than a year ago for molesting her barely teenage student.
Previously released recordings of police interviews provided a glimpse into Zamora's monthslong abuse of her student, including allegations that she had sex with the boy multiple times in her car and classroom — once with another male student in the room. The two even sexually touched each other while oblivious students watched a video, records show.
But the full police report, which was recently reviewed by The Arizona Republic, provided a closer look at Zamora's predatory behavior and how she may have been grooming other students.
The "relationship" between Zamora and the victim carried on for at least three months before a monitoring app on the boy's cellphone alerted his parents to illicit texts between the two.
One of the parents of the victim recounted to police investigators how Zamora tried to maintain a sense of control over his life.
"(Victim) said he was talking to a girl he liked and he told his friend about it," police wrote in the report. "Somehow Brittany found out that (victim) liked this girl and told him that he couldn't talk to this girl. Brittany also said that, if he dated the girl, she would get other girls to beat her up."
Students noticed the strange relationship between their teacher and the victim months before Zamora was arrested.
They thought they were too close, the report said. Rumors circulated that they were dating and that he had gotten her pregnant.
It's not clear whether any other students saw the sexual activities that occurred during class.
Principal Timothy Dickey interviewed a few of the students in light of the rumors and his notes from those conversations were included in the police report. The students complained that the boy received straight A's without actually doing the work and didn't receive the same punishments as other students.
Another student said Zamora was too close to the kids in their class. The student pointed to Zamora attending another student's singing competition and football games outside of school. She frequently communicated with students outside of school through an Instagram account and an online instruction app called Classcraft.
One female student even confronted Zamora on Classcraft about special treatment she believed Zamora was giving the victim, according to screenshots of the conversation included in the police report.
Dickey later lectured the students about the dangers of rumors, according to a civil lawsuit filed by the parents of the victim against Zamora's husband and the Liberty Elementary School District.
Zamora reassured Dickey that it was the victim who gravitated toward her, the report said. She didn't know how to address the matter without hurting his feelings. The boy was hyperactive and could be disruptive, she told Dickey. He would sit at her desk so she could give him a task to keep him occupied and prevent him from distracting everyone else.
Zamora told Dickey he could check Classcraft to view the communications. He never did.
Police interviews show Zamora may have been grooming another potential victim.
The mother of a male friend of the victim told police Zamora promised to send her son naked pictures over the summer.
During class, Zamora asked the friend whether he was circumcised, the report said. She showed him pictures of male genitalia on her phone when he said he didn't understand the question.
The conversation stopped when it was time for recess.
The friend told police Zamora never tried to touch or kiss him. His parents declined to prosecute.
The victim's mother noticed her son had been acting differently. She later told police he suddenly wanted to shut his door at night and began showing more interest in girls.
A cell phone monitoring app — Sentry Parental Control — alerted the mom March 21 the word "baby" was repeatedly coming up in a direct message conversation on Instagram.
She quickly realized the Instagram account belonged to Zamora.
The boy admitted to his parents that it was his teacher and they had had sex.
It's not clear what caused Zamora to call the parents after she admitted to her husband she had been messaging the student. The parents recorded the phone call and provided it to police.
During the phone conversation, she admitted to having sex with the victim twice, the report said. Zamora offered to take a pregnancy test and send him the results to prove she wasn't pregnant.
At one point, Zamora seemed to try to defend the abuse.
"It was not all me," she said to the parents of the boy. "I am the adult and it was my judgment and it is my job to keep him safe. But it wasn't forced upon. ... I don't want you to think that I forced him or anything like that because I would never do that. I just want to let you know that 100 percent nothing was, like, forced or made him feel threatened or made him feel anything."
Zamora skirted around many of the questions asked by the boy's father. She told him she wasn't denying the messages the parents found, but was concerned about answering any questions over the phone.
"I don't want it to be recorded and go to court," she said.
She offered to meet in person to discuss everything.
Zamora's husband, Daniel Zamora, was texting his wife during her call to the parents. Transcripts provided in the police report detail how he encouraged her to cry, apologize frequently and do whatever she could to seem helpless.
He advised her to insist on an in-person meeting just in case the father was recording.
"Don't admit to any relationship," Daniel Zamora texted his wife. "Because we both know there isn't one and nothing happened. Just stupid fantasy text that went too far."
He urged her to hang up the phone when he felt the conversation had gone on too long.
His text messages went unanswered when she was arrested shortly after.
Court records show Daniel and Brittany Zamora are still married. It's unclear whether Daniel Zamora knew the full extent of what was happening between his wife and the student prior to her arrest.
Conversations between Daniel Zamora, his wife and the father of the victim indicate he thought the relationship wasn't physical. However, the parents' lawsuit accuses Daniel Zamora of failing to alert authorities after he learned of the ongoing molestation.
Zamora was previously charged with 15 counts total, including eight counts of sexual misconduct with a minor. Twelve counts were dismissed as part of the plea deal.
While a plea deal means fewer charges and likely less jail time than if Zamora had been found guilty in a trial, it also means the young victims won't have to take the stand and testify against her while she sits in the courtroom with them.
She will likely spend about 30 years in prison under the peal deal. Zamora would likely be in her 50s when she would be released from prison. She would then have to register as a sex offender and would serve lifetime probation.
The plea agreement also forbids her from having contact with any of the victims or returning to the scene of the crime, which would include the school where she once taught. She'll likely have to pay restitution to her victims.
The boy's parents are seeking $2.5 million in damages, according to a civil lawsuit filed in January against Zamora. It is still ongoing.