Brenda Harding, Canon City, Colo. Woman, Sentenced For Sexual Relationship With Teen Who Committed Suicide
Brenda Harding, a 30-year-old Canon City, Colo. woman accused of a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy who later committed suicide has been sentenced to 90 days in jail and 10 years to life on probation. Harding must also register as a sex offender and not have contact with anyone under the age of 18, including her own two children, until a risk assessment can be completed, according to KRDO.
The victim, 15-year-old Tristen Hagen, was a Buena Vista boy that met Harding because she was a friend of his stepmother's, Westword reports. Harding served as the young boy's babysitter and caregiver -- Hagen even lived with Harding for a period in 2010. But according to authorities, the pair began to have a sexual relationship during June of that same year.
Mike Hagen, the victim's father, suspected an inappropriate relationship between his son and Harding and told her to stop seeing his son. On April 1, Harding ended the relationship, and according to 7News, Hagen was reported missing on April 2 and two days later his body was found. The autopsy revealed he had overdosed on a mix of painkillers and muscle relaxants.
The Canon City Daily Record reported from Harding's trial where District Attorney Thom LeDoux spoke about how the teenager could not deal with the adult nature of the relationship nor it ending -- within 24 hours of the relationship ending, the boy was dead -- and used it as an illustration of why laws like this exist to protect minors. The boy's father, Mike, said this about the devastating loss of his child:
We found his lifeless body on a hill. She was told by me and other people to leave him alone. We don't want to see this happen to anyone else.
Young Hagen was infatuated with Harding. When investigators found his body approximately one block west of Harding's home, according to the Pueblo Chieftain, on-scene authorities noted in their case report that "from the vantage point where the body was discovered, Harding's house could be clearly seen in an almost direct line of sight and his body lay in such a manner that it appeared he might have been looking at her house."