An East Texas elementary school counselor accused of texting scantily clad photos of herself and sexually assaulting a former student who is now a teenager will spend the next five years in jail. The woman stuck to her claim of innocence throughout the trial.
A Smith County District Court convicted Barbara Lynn Orpineda, 32, on one felony count of sexual assault of a child. The jury then sentenced her to five years in prison with no fine. The prosecution sought a 10-year sentence.
Throughout a two-day trial, Orpineda maintained her innocence on the witness stand.
Last year, Breitbart Texas reported that prosecutors charged the Arp Elementary school counselor with two counts of an improper relationship between an educator and a student and two counts of sexual assault of a child. The charges followed complaints from two parents and a student who accused her of sexual misconduct with several former male students.
In court, the Smith County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted this case involving a then 15-year-old boy. Prosecutors portrayed Orpineda as a predator and pedophile who told the unidentified victim “how to turn her on.” She also performed a sexual act on him, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph. Assistant DA Bryan Jiral told the jury, “She groomed them and showed them intimacy, flirted with them, made them feel special, and eventually isolated them on the side of the road.”
Under oath, a Smith County detective told the court he saw images of Orpineda in”some kind of sports bra” and underwear on one of the victim’s cellphones but said he did not have the photos with him, according to KLTV. The unidentified victim also testified. He said Orpineda generally communicated with the teens on Snapchat. The teen said he sent nude pictures to her and she sent back similar images.
In her testimony, a tearful Orpineda denied the allegations. She said she never sent compromising images to any of the boys. When asked if she ever engaged in sexual conduct of any kind with a person under the age of 17, Orpineda replied, “No, sir.” Then, when asked if she did anything inappropriate, Orpineda responded, “Absolutely not.”
However, she admitted to texting her accusers late at night. Orpineda said it would be against her moral code to ignore a student in need and the boys “misconstrued” her kindness, turning it into “locker room talk.” She told the jury the teens “made this up out of the blue.” Fighting back tears, she described this boy and the other teen accusers as “adolescents that had some rumors that got away from them” and “got blown out of proportion.”
A friend of the victim took the stand and asked the jury to believe the victims because they had nothing to gain by lying about an uncomfortable situation, according to KLTV.
Bobby Mims, Orpineda’s defense attorney, asked the jury to give his client “10 years or less and suspend the sentence so she can be out on probation.” He said, “She has three children. I want you to consider that.”
The State argued against probation. Assistant DA Noah Coltman told the jury, “Everyone is in this courtroom because of what Barbara Orpineda did. That is why we are asking you to send her to prison for 10 years.”
Orpineda’s husband Jesse also testified, saying he loved his wife and they had no marital problems. He appealed to jurors by saying Orpineda complied with every condition of the court while she was released on bond and reported weekly to the probation office. He also pleaded for a probated sentence for the sake of their children. “We have three little ones, a three-year-old, a six-year-old, and a nine-year-old,” he said.
Jiral told the jury not to grant Orpineda leniency just because she is a woman.
Orpineda faces three other sexual assault cases related to those other alleged victims. Prosecutors have not yet decided if they will try the cases.
Online court records show authorities booked Orpineda into the Smith County Jail on Wednesday. After completing her prison sentence, she will have to register as a sex offender.
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