Jury Deliberates in Marriage Counselor Trial - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Jury Deliberates in Marriage Counselor Trial



    Friday afternoon jurors began deliberating the case of Shelia Loven, the marraige counselor accused of sexual assault. Prosecutors say she exploited someone who was emotionally dependent on her. (Published Friday, Feb. 15, 2013)

    A Tarrant County jury will have to wait until Tuesday to resume deliberations in a sexual assault case involving a marriage counselor accused of abusing her position to exploit an emotionally dependent client.

    The jurors are deliberating on the case involving Loven who was a licensed counselor at the time she allegedly counseled a couple to divorce and used her position to have sex with the husband.

    Loven could face two to 20 years in prison, if she is found guilty.

    Jurors received the case around 3 p.m. on Friday, but were sent home shortly after 5 p.m. They sent a note around 4 p.m. asking for the definitions of exploitation and emotional dependent, as well as coffee.

    The trial resumed Friday afternoon with a handful of prosecution witnesses, before the state rested. The defense put on no witnesses, as it is not required to do so.

    During closing arguments, the prosecution and defense said Loven was a bad counselor and what she did was wrong, but both sides disagreed on whether it was illegal.

    Prosecutors Betty Arvin and Sean Colston compared the counselor and patient relationship to preacher and parishioner or student and teacher.

    They argued that the victim, who NBC 5 will not identify, was emotionally dependent on Loven as a licensed counselor, and she exploited that relationship for sex.

    Text messages, allegedly from Loven to the victim and his wife, were brought up during closing arguments.

    "It tells you that Sheila knew (victim) was emotionally dependent on her," Assistant District Attorney Colston argued.

    Defense Attorney Mark Scott admitted his client's actions were immoral and argued that his client didn't take advantage of the victim or manipulate him and his wife, rather she simply developed feelings for him.

    "I know you don't like Sheila, I don't blame you," Scott said. "What she did is terrible, it's disgusting. They want you to believe that leaving love notes for him was manipulative, that telling him he was handsome was manipulative. Ladies and gentlemen she fell in love with (the victim), it's a bad idea, terrible. Immoral, unethical, improper, goes across boundaries, not right, not illegal."

    Colston said it is illegal and if the genders were different there would be no doubt.

    "What if this was a woman treated by a counselor, we would have no doubt that she was exploited, that that was an illegal act," Colston said.

    Jurors will resume their deliberations on Tuesday.