FORT WORTH –– On Wednesday, a Tarrant County jury sentenced Sheila Loven to 10 years probation for sexually assaulting a client she was counseling. Should she violate her probation, Loven could be sent to jail for up to four years.
Jurors seemed to follow the law and follow their hearts Wednesday afternoon in sentencing the licensed professional counselor they had already convicted of sexual assault.
Loven said she began to have feelings for one of her clients who she had been counseling with his wife in 2009.
"I had no business having a license at that time. I see that clearly now," Loven told the jury. When the relationship began in 2009, Loven was counseling the couple, who were having marriage troubles.
During the criminal trial, prosecutors introduced evidence suggesting Loven worked to try and persuade the couple to get a divorce. Loven denied the claims during the testimony Wednesday.
"I'm begging for probation," she told the jury Wednesday morning. "I never intentionally manipulated anybody." She described her actions as "disgustingly and nauseatingly inappropriate."
The former counselor testified about problems she was having in her own marriage, the death of her sister and financial trouble. She's also surrendered her counseling license and said she lost custody of her seven-year-old daughter.
During cross examination, prosecutor Betty Arvin highlighted apparent drug use between Loven and the victim. She also quizzed Loven about the code of ethics she was sworn to adhere to as a licensed counselor.
But Loven was most emotional Wednesday when she described telling the victim's wife that she was having an affair with her client's husband. The meeting took place at a restaurant.
"She felt like he had found somebody, because he wasn't calling. 'He seemed to be OK.'" The judge ordered a recess when Loven broke-down during the testimony. After returning from a break, she continued telling how she revealed to an unsuspecting client that the man her husband was seeing was.
"It's me. Her face went white. I mean, she excused herself and that was it," Loven recalled.
Jurors could have sentenced Loven to up to 20 years in prison. She lost her license as a result of her actions and will be required to register as a sex offender.
Under cross examination, Loven agreed her actions were "immoral, unethical and illegal."
After the sentence, the husband took the stand to thank jurors. He said she Loven will never again prey on vulnerable people.