Women Pushing Boundaries With Teens

Society disapproves as free convict, suspect stick by denials of wrongdoing.


Feb. 27, 2008— -- One woman just got out of prison for a second time, after being convicted in the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy whom she eventually married and bore a child with.

And another woman may be heading to jail after allegedly opening up a Pennsylvania hotel room last Friday to a group of teens for what police describe as a sex- and drug-fueled party.

In both cases, the women find themselves in trouble with police for what is considered inappropriate and illegal behavior with minors. But neither woman is saying she is sorry or even offering regret for decisions that led to their respective arrests.

And experts say that it should not come as a surprise that some women do not see why society and law enforcement look unfavorably at adult women who get involved with teenagers. Shades of the infamous Mary Kay Letourneau case, some say.

"Their conscience is not shocked the way the general public is shocked," Frederic Reamer, a professor in the School of Social Work at Rhode Island College and a member of the state parole board, told ABC News.

Reamer has worked with many female offenders involved in what the law — and generally the public — consider taboo relationships with teens. While he said that the circumstances often differ from case to case, the patterns of behavior are typically the same.

Lisa Lynette Clark, 39, who earlier spent nine months in jail on the rape charge, was released Friday from a Georgia prison after she was convicted of helping her teenage husband, now 17, flee the state while still on probation.

That teenager is the father of the couple's 2-year-old son. Clark married the teen in November 2005, when he was 15. They met because he was the friend of Clark's teenage son.

Under Georgia law, the teen was allowed to marry because the bride was pregnant with his child.

Clark was arrested the day after the wedding and spent nine months in jail after pleading guilty to statutory rape. She was then convicted for helping her husband, who was on probation after a burglary conviction, flee the state.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Atlanta affiliate WSBTV on Monday, Clark said her first priority as a free woman would be regaining custody of her toddler. She also said she will reunite with her husband.

"Yes, I love him. I mean I wouldn't be with him if I didn't love him. So I care very deeply for him," she told WSB.

A book entitled "Betrayed: The True Story of Lisa Lynette Clark," ghost-written while Clark was behind bars, is scheduled to be published as soon as this week. The book details a taboo, high-profile relationship that began when the boy was just 14 years old.

In it, Clark invokes the Bible and longs for the day her husband turns 17, and she no longer has to turn her back to him. "I remember all those nights when I would prepare a bubble bath for you and light a candle," an excerpt printed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution runs. "I want to love you like that again and cook for you and clean for you."

Clark, while acknowledging some embarrassment for the explicit nature of the book, stood by her sexual relationship with the minor. "Right now, this is morally unacceptable, but 20 years ago, interracial relationships were unacceptable," she said.

Kimberly Dymecki, Clark's attorney, said the book is not an authorized biography and that she did not believe her client, who now is registered as a sex offender, stands to profit from the publication.

In Pennsylvania this week, police arrested Abbiejane Swogger, a 34-year-old exotic dancer turned teacher's aide from the town of Natrona, after she allegedly held a party in a motel room with several teenagers. She was charged Tuesday with possession of drugs and corrupting minors. Police said they found 9.5 grams of crack cocaine and a digital scale in the room.

They also reportedly found three teenagers, empty beer cans, the odor of marijuana and condom wrappers. Swogger has already resigned from her position as a special education assistant at a local school. More charges could be brought, police say.

In media interviews before she was formally charged Tuesday, Swogger acknowledged rumors about her having sex with teens, but said they were "absolutely not true." She acknowledged that "discreet sex" may have occurred among the teens, but said that she did not have sex during the hotel party.

"I did not serve them any alcohol," she said in an interview with KDKA TV in Pittsburgh. "Marijuana? I have no clue. If there was marijuana there it was not mine. Open condom wrappers? Yes … but I did not have sex with anyone."

Swogger claims she got the hotel room because she did not like to party in front of her two sons.

Swogger's attorney, Duke George, who was hired after Swogger talked about her arrest to the media, told ABC News that the candid comments his client made could jeopardize her defense. "The worst thing you can do without advice of counsel is to talk to anyone about your case," George said.

Police in Harrison, Pa., where Swogger lives, continue to investigate the woman, according to Michael Klein, the police chief. Additional charges ranging anywhere from corruption of a minor to much more serious counts could be made, he said.

Of the many women he works with, Reamer, the Rhode Island professor, said that occasionally a woman will be a sexual predator in the true sense of the word. Sometimes a woman suffers from cognitive deficiencies that prevent her from seeing what's wrong with her relationship with teens, while other times a woman's judgment will become impaired by circumstances in her life, he said.

More common, he said, are scenarios where women offenders are immature and, despite being in a position of senior authority, feel more comfortable around teens.

"She is someone who is much more comfortable relating to and interacting with younger people," Reamer said. "It's often threatening for her to spend time with people who are supposed to be intellectual peers. It's a kind of arrested development.

"There's almost a self-righteousness quality to it," he continued. "Who are all these folks, meaning law enforcement officials, child welfare officials, who are they to judge me?"

A classic example of this behavior, Reamer said, is Mary Kay Letourneau, a woman who was 34 when she made national headlines in 1996 with the news that she was pregnant with a 12-year-old student's child. Letourneau would spend several years in jail after pleading guilty to child rape. She was released in August 2004 and married the father of her child eight months later.

In an interview with "Good Morning America" in February 2007, Letourneau said she did "not for a moment" second-guess her feelings for the student at the time, though she did not know all of the legal ramifications that the relationship could bring.

"I'm not really one of those persons that says what's supposed to be the norm," she said. "I mean, I can see what's supposed to be the norm and I recognize it, but there's so many things in life that don't really don't fall into that norm."

Tina Tessina, a southern California psychotherapist, said that adults in relationships with children and teens often by nature are "narcissistic," a characteristic that prevents them from seeing what's wrong with their behavior.

"Most of us say, 'Oh my God, I've got to get this in control,'" Tessina said. "They don't. They look for ways to justify it because they can't control it anyway. It looks OK from their skewed viewpoint."

While it may be normal for teens to experiment with different behavior in front of adults, Tessina said adults who enter into relationship with teens fail to live up to what most consider "adult responsibility."

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