BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — MIDDLETON — A married mother of two admitted to police that she took a 15-year-old middle school student to a hotel and had sex with him there last month, a prosecutor said in court yesterday.
Though she allegedly confessed to investigators, Heather Salines, 38, of Saugus pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated child rape during her arraignment yesterday morning in Salem District Court.
Salines, who had come to court with an attorney after learning of an arrest warrant, was briefly taken into custody in the courtroom, after Judge Michael Lauranzano set bail at $7,500 cash. She was released an hour later after her father posted the bail.
Prosecutor Kate MacDougall called the boy “vulnerable” because his own mother had died and he had come to see Salines as a “mother figure.”
MacDougall told the judge the case came to light after administrators at a Saugus middle school learned that the boy, “barely 15,” according to the prosecutor, had been showing another student naked photos of Salines on his cellphone.
That afternoon, Salines showed up at the school looking for the boy. She eventually agreed to speak to police, first in Saugus and then in Danvers, where part of the hotel is located. (The case was later taken over by Middleton police after it was determined that the room Salines had rented is actually in that town.)
During an interview with Danvers police, Salines said she had known the boy for a couple of months through her 13-year-old daughter, and she claimed that she had become like a mother to him. Though the boy had a legal guardian, his aunt, Salines had been picking him up at school.
“She said that he would text her if he did good on a test and said it was like she was his mother and that she would try to be there for him,” police wrote in their report.
“She said they became close, and she developed feelings that she was not proud of,” police said in a report of their interview with Salines. “She said she tried to renege but that one thing led to another.”
“Things spiraled out of control,” and “I lost myself,” she told police.
Salines told investigators they first had sexual relations in her car in Saugus on St. Patrick’s Day. Two days later, they looked for a hotel, she said, explaining that her daughter was home.
After first trying a Peabody hotel that turned out to have no rooms available, Salines drove to the DoubleTree Hotel on the Danvers-Middleton line. She got a room on the afternoon of March 19.
When an investigator asked her what happened in the room, she said, “Obviously, things that shouldn’t have happened.”
She went on to say the boy “acted like a grown man. ... When I looked at him, he looked like a 20-year-old kid. I didn’t look at him like a normal 15-year-old boy. ... He was very mature for his age.”
Police believe that after the encounter, Salines sent the boy nude photos of herself; the boy also sent her photos.
At several points in the interview, Salines asked police if she was going to jail.
MacDougall said in court yesterday that Salines, who was charged with aggravated child rape because of the difference in age of more than 10 years, faces a minimum mandatory 10-year prison term if convicted.
Defense attorney Joseph Sasso called MacDougall’s request for $25,000 bail “a little bit over the edge” for the married mother of two children, ages 13 and 4.
“It’s one of those incidents that is an unfortunate incident,” Sasso told the judge. “She came here (to court) freely and voluntarily.”
Lauranzano ordered Salines to have no contact with the boy or his family as a condition of her bail.
MacDougall said she expects to present the case to a grand jury for indictment. A pretrial conference was scheduled for May 1.
Outside court, Sasso and Salines refused to answer questions.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.