A 37-year-old pregnant woman is in custody on charges of child molestation after having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old neighbor. Now the couple has gotten married, using a little-known loophole in Georgia law, and the boy's grandmother is hopping mad.
Lisa Lynette Clark met her 15-year-old husband when the boy befriended Clark's teenage son and he began staying the weekends for sleepovers.
"My skin just crawls thinking about her (Clark)," said Judy Hayles, 61, who is also her grandson's guardian. "I don't want to see her. … I don't even like seeing her ugly mug shot on TV."
Clark took the boy to dinner, to the mall, to the skating park, always footing the bill.
At first, the efforts were appreciated by Hayles, a housecleaner, who did not have the resources to provide those kinds of luxuries. But while her grandson was serving 45 days in juvenile detention for burglarizing a local home, Hayles discovered a love letter and erotic pictures that Clark allegedly sent to the boy. Hayes confronted her grandson, and he confessed to the affair. A neighbor told Hayles that Clark was pregnant with her grandson's child.
"Everything's not really sunk in yet and the worst is yet to come … the baby on the way," Hayles said.
Upon her grandson's confession, Hayles immediately contacted local police. That was Oct. 8. Clark was not arrested until five weeks later, and during that time she and the boy were married.
"Had she been arrested in a timely manner, as they would have arrested a male pedophile, she would not be married to my grandson right now," Hayles said.
On Nov. 8, Hayles' grandson told her he was too sick to go to school. Instead of staying home, he applied for a marriage license at the Dawson County Courthouse. Later that day, retired judge Johnny Tallant married the couple in his driveway in front of an SUV. The 15-year-old groom reportedly stayed in the car until the very last moment, just before they exchanged vows. Tallant said he didn't think there was anything odd about the couple and thought the woman looked like she was in her 20s.
"They had their license, so they were legal as far as I was concerned," Tallant said.
The day after they were wed, Clark was arrested on child molestation charges and remains in jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. Her husband is in juvenile detention on unrelated charges.
Under Georgia law, a teenager can marry as long as they have parental permission and are at least 16. While the boy fulfills neither of these conditions, a little-known legal loophole waives parental consent and age requirements if the bride is pregnant.
"The nature of their relationship is evidenced by their marriage certificate," said Daniel Sammons, Clark's lawyer. "They're husband and wife."
Georgia law says a person under 16 legally cannot consent to a sexual act, regardless of marriage status. Although Clark is married, she is not protected from child molestation charges.
Hayles wants the marriage annulled, saying the couple would stay married "when I am laid out and candle lit."
Hayles said Clark tried to talk to her, but Hayles wants nothing to do with her.
"She (Clark) said she just wanted us all to be family," Clark said. "I said I already have a family, I don't need one with a pedophile in it."
Clark is not the first woman to make news for marrying a younger man.
Mary Kay Letourneau, 43, married her former student, Vili Filau, after spending more than seven years in jail for statutory rape. The two started a sexual relationship when he was in sixth grade, and have two children together. Throughout Letourneau's time in prison, Filau maintained he entered the relationship willingly.
"Kids want lots of things that aren't good for them," said child advocate Trenny Stovall. "That's why we have laws to protect them."
More recently, Debra Lafave, a newlywed schoolteacher in Florida, was accused of having sex with one of her 14-year-old students.
"In some cases when they are drawn into these relationships, it brings them back to a time when they felt most alive, which was adolescence," said psychotherapist Robi Ludwig. "And/or they never got to experience that alive sense in high school and this is their chance to get that feeling."