A Santa Barbara woman—who, says her attorney, is still in love with a 21-year-old she had been sleeping with since he was 13—was sentenced on Tuesday to a six-year prison sentence for unlawful sexual intercourse after she took a plea deal rather than go to trial.
Genise Schu, 48, a married mother of three, pleaded no contest to seven counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years of age and three counts of oral copulation with a person under 18. Her attorney, Steve Balash, said they took the plea bargain to “minimize the mental anguish of both families.”
There was a lot of emotional attachment between both parties, Balash said. “She still thinks of him a lot.” Balash stated the relationship began in the days after Schu lost some of her family and was feeling lonely. “They formed a bond,” he said, adding he doesn’t agree with this area of the law, comparing his case to a recent Santa Barbara case where the DA’s Office pursued adult murder charges against a 14-year-old. “How is it that a 14-year-old doesn’t understand sex but he can have the intent to kill?”
The victim’s family responded strongly to Balash’s comments in a statement, saying that “to insinuate that these crimes are anything other than the acts of a predator is insulting and prolongs our pain.” Balash’s “pathetic attempt to portray his client’s systematic and prolonged sexual abuse of our son as ‘love’ or as a ‘relationship’ is infuriating,” the family statement read.
Indeed, reports from authorities showed Schu to be manipulative and controlling. According to authorities, the relationship began when the victim would spend the night at the home of one of his classmates and closest friends, Schu’s son. According to the victim, one night seven years ago he was at the Schu residence when she showed him pornography while others were sleeping. The two began having conversations that were sexual in nature, and eventually she performed oral sex on the boy and they had sexual intercourse at least twice. Since then the two had consensual sex hundreds of times during the relationship, according to a declaration from Santa Barbara police officer Corina Terrence. A probation report indicated the victim said Schu threatened to expose the relationship when he tried to end it, and that she would become angry when he would take an interest in girls at school. He indicated that he now understands that he had been controlled by Schu, who had access to his email, Facebook, and voicemail passwords.
It was only when his sister discovered a text message in July 2009 that the victim’s family found out about this ongoing relationship, which included Schu visiting the victim at school in Los Angeles, and him making trips back to Santa Barbara just to see her. Schu confessed to the sexual relationship in an interview and “corroborated the dates of the initial sex acts by recalling deaths in her family and an addition put on her house around that time,” Terrence wrote.
In court Monday morning, Schu sat staring straight ahead with little emotion as the victim’s mother, who said she had known Schu for more than a decade, told the court about the impact of the relationship on her family and more importantly, her son. “She stole his childhood, his youth, his innocence, and his identity,” the mother said, adding that the crime went beyond sexual assault, but was a crime of power, control, and violence directed toward her son. She called Schu a predator and a monster. “She made him into a liar to conceal her crimes. She made him ashamed of who he was and for seven long years he lived this horrible secret alone.” The victim is still undergoing counseling.
Schu didn’t address the media after the hearing, instead, heading out of the courthouse with her husband. The victim’s family released a statement thanking their friends and family for their support, and lauded the hard work of authorities in the case.
Schu will have to register as a sex offender for six years, beginning when she turns herself in April 12.