Sex offender violates probation; sent to prison

Friday, October 12, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A former Chapel Hill resident who was sentenced to five and a half years' probation less than a year ago was ordered to serve the rest of her sentence in prison after a court appearance Wednesday.

Jeana Lynn Gunter, 36, of Centerville, pleaded guilty in November 2011 to one count of criminal attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means. Six other counts of sexual exploitation by electronic means were dismissed.

Gunter was arrested on a violation-of-probation warrant on Sept. 7. She pleaded guilty to the charge, but Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler held a hearing Wednesday to determine whether her probation should be revoked.

Witnesses called in Gunter's defense by Bill Harold of the Public Defender's Office included her former boss, who said she'd be welcome back at her old job, and her father and brother, who both said they were eager to help her succeed on probation.

Then Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard called Gunter's probation officer Susan Siedentop. The officer testified she had been supervising Gunter since May, and took out the probation-violation warrant in August.

Siedentop explained Gunter admitted to numerous probation violations during a discussion before a polygraph exam, which is periodically required for registered sex offenders.

The violations included being present at a party where others were consuming marijuana; staying at a different address than the one she was registered at; attending sex parties with her husband and another couple, where they watched explicit movies, and used sex toys; and sending nude photos and explicit messages to a former boyfriend. Gunter also tested positive for amphetamines and had been in contact with children under 18 (other than her own), which was prohibited for her as a registered sex offender.

"She does not want to be cooperative," Siedentop said. "I tried to work with her." She supervised Gunter more closely by requiring her to wear a GPS monitor, but Gunter denied what the monitor reported, that she was leaving her house late in the evening and staying elsewhere.

"Has she been cooperative?" asked Barnard.

"No," Siedentop replied.

"Does she need a second chance?" the ADA asked.

"No, I do not believe so," Siedentop said.

"You've had problems with her from the get-go?" asked Crigler.

"Right," Siedentop answered.

"You just couldn't get it done," Barnard said. "Whose fault was that?"

"Ms. Gunter's," said Siedentop.

"Revoke her and let her get her time done," was Barnard's recommendation to the judge.

Arguing for Gunter, Harold said, "She's not been on probation before. It's difficult and hard to understand for her. Her family will help her. She deserved the opportunity to show she's learned this lesson."

The judge could not agree with him,

"I don't think she can plead ignorance" of the rules of probation and the special conditions for sex offenders, Crigler said, ordering Gunter to serve the balance of her sentence.

According to documents in Gunter's case file, her victim was a 15-year-old boy, a neighbor when she and her husband lived in Chapel Hill. The victim admitted he received intimate, revealing photos of her, and chatted with her over the Internet and by text message about having sex. Authorities found out about the situation from a tip to the Department of Children's Services child abuse/sex abuse hotline.