When Ms. Teacher Goes After Male Pupil
When Ms. Teacher Goes After Male Pupil
Saturday, February 12,2005
By Catherine Donaldson-Evans
Female teachers accused of sex crimes against underage male students have been grabbing headlines lately. Many of them are young and beautiful, their stories sordid and intriguing.
But to law enforcement, they’re something else — criminals who have committed statutory rape against a minor.
This week alone, two cases have hit the news: Cops say one Texas teacher, Kathy Denise White had sex with a 17-year-old, and Tennessee teacher Pamela Rogers Turner had sex with a 13-year-old boy.
They join at least three other recent cases: Florida teacher Debra LaFave ,24, is expected to plead insanity to charges she had sex with a 14-year-old student, according to her lawyer; California teacher Sarah Bench-Salorio,28, allegedly molested two boys when they were 12 and 14; and 33-year-old California teacher Rebecca Boicelli was arrested last month on statutory rape and related charges after DNA tests confirmed that a former student fathered her 2-year-old baby when he was 16.
All of them follow the trail laid by Mary Kay Letourneau, whom the media tracked again last year when she was released from prison after more than seven years. The former Seattle teacher said she’s still in love with her now-21-year-old student (who was 12 when she was 34 and fathered the first of the two children they had together); the pair have since reportedly gotten engaged.
Law enforcement officials and sociologists wonder whether there are really more of these cases, or are they just getting more press?
“Certainly the reporting of these kinds of things do prompt other reports,” said Tom Eveslage, a journalism professor at Temple University.”It gets a little bit more sticky when we start talking about [whether]this justifies the media going gaga over all these kinds of stories.”
Female teachers who commit statutory rape still represent a fraction of the number of sex offenders, though few hard numbers are available and the FBI’s National Crime Information Center said it doesn’t document the occupations of the reported offenders.
Still, the stories make news, because reporters, chat rooms and members of the public are mystified about why a teacher would have sex with a student who’s underage.
“Older women involved with underage males is nothing new,” said Louis B. Schlesinger, a forensic psychologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “That’s been going on many, many, many years. The general view is that it’s a rite of passage. … The guy is lucky.”
But the “guy” is also a minor, the “rite of passage,” a crime — even if it was consensual sex.
Just as there’s pedophilia involving young children, there’salso a related disorder called hebophilia, which is sexual attraction to adolescents, or postpubescent minors. In the smattering of recent cases, the students were between the ages of 13 and 17.
“Some adult men and women are attracted to teenagers,”said Schlesinger. “These are teachers with boundary problems. Their boundaries are very fluid.”
Last summer, a report contracted by the government under the “No Child Left Behind Act” drew ire from the American Federation of Teachers and other education leaders. It was an attempt to document cases of sexual offenses by teachers of their students, but “even the preface to the report, written by Deputy Education Secretary Eugene Hickok (never one to shy away from criticizing public schools), expresses reservations about the author’s jumbling the terms ‘sexual abuse’ and ‘sexual misconduct,'” the AFT said in a statement in July.
“This confusion is especially troubling because the report could have supported policy makers, parents and school officials working to keep sexual predators away from students,” the AFT statement read.”Sexual abuse” refers to the more serious charges of molestation;”sexual misconduct” is a broader and vaguer term.
But despite the negative press teachers and schools — mostly in the public school system — get when these sorts of cases are reported, the National Education Association said children and teens are still safe in school.
“Schools are among the safest places for children to be, statistically speaking,” said NEA spokesman Michael Pons. “There is a whole network of people there to take care of the children’s health.Within that community, there is built-in support to prevent any inappropriate thing.”
But, he said, the NEA does take such issues seriously and has a number of policies in place to prevent inappropriate relationships between teachers and students of any gender from developing.
“When there’s an allegation for inappropriate conduct, it absolutely should be investigated,” said Pons. “It should beturned over to the authorities. We absolutely support that.
“Any time something bad like this happens, obviously it’s going to be news — it is quite remarkable,” Pons said. “It’s asignal to parents and schools to be more vigilant.”
The number of cases of sexual abuse by teachers — female and male — is still by many estimates less than 10 percent of all sex crimes against minors, though there have been stories about male teachers committing statutory rape with their female students in the news for decades.
But the five or more cases that have gotten publicity lately have still involved serious charges, and many unanswered questions. A whole host of factors plays into how that attraction springs up and what sort of woman — or man — would do such a thing. And of course, each case is individual.
From a criminal standpoint, it has to do with exhibitionism, manipulation, power and a number of other physiological and psychological elements, according to Schlesinger.
“We don’t know the details of any of them — why they were brought to the jury system,” he said. “It’s very hard to know from a distance the levels of motivation for these people.”
Media analysts say the coverage in some media is glorified as salacious when it comes to female teachers having sex with their teenaged students.
“This story is part crime drama, part Penthouse letter,” said Matthew Felling, media director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs .”It all began with the Letourneau case, which was a gateway drug for the news networks. They got hooked on it.”
Female teachers are often treated differently in the media than male teachers who have sex with underage students.
“The main dichotomy is in coverage — men are demonized, women are diagnosed,” Felling said. “Men are beasts, but women are troubled, or mentally ill.” Or the women are simply portrayed asvoluptuous and sexual. In the LaFave case, suggestive photographs of her surfaced shortly after the news of her affair with the student broke.
The story is so accepted that it was even one of the plotlines in NBC’s “Friends” — Phoebe’s younger brother had an affair with his teacher and wound up fathering her children and marrying her — and a twist on it (with a female neighbor instead of a teacher and a high school student) is in the current ABC hit “Desperate Housewives,” both on prime-time network television.
Many of the most high-profile teachers in the news lately have been charismatic, which Schlesinger says contributes to the media and public interest.
“When a woman is an offender, it’s treated differently— especially if she’s attractive,” he said. “It shakes everybody’s conception of what should be.”
But sometimes, the “offenders” turn out not to be guilty.
“The teacher has to be concerned because there can be a vindictive kid” who can falsely accuse the person at the head of the class of a sex crime, said Temple University’s Eveslage. “This is where the media has to be careful.”
But, he added, the press is doing its job as a societal watchdog in a complex system of checks and balances.
“The abuse of authority and power by church leaders or government officials or teachers deserves to be reported,” said Eveslage.
“Power needs to be watched. The media provides that check as a watchdog.”
Texas Teacher Accused of Sex With Teen
Thursday, February 10, 2005
LUMBERTON, Texas — A former high school teacher accused of having sexual relations with a17-year-old student has been indicted on two charges of an improper relationship with a student.
Kathy Denise White ,39, was indicted by a Hardin County grand jury Tuesday. White is accused ofhaving at least two sexual encounters in September 2004 with the male student, who is now 18, according to the indictment.
The indictment comes after a Lumberton Police Department investigation and White’s resignation last month from the school district, where she worked as a resource teacher at Lumberton High School.
“She didn’t do it and is denying the allegations,” David Barlow, White’s lawyer, said Tuesday in a phone interview. “Since I’ve been involved in this, the allegations have been embellished.
“We don’t even know who the complaining witness is because the indictment only has initials.”
Lumberton Police Chief Norman Reynolds said one of the alleged encounters took place at White’s home, while the other was at school.
White turned herself into police Tuesday and was released from the Hardin County Jail on a $2,500 bond, Barlow said.
Improper relationship between an educator and a student is asecond-degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Tenn.Teacher Accused of Sleeping With 13-Year-Old Student
Thursday, February 10, 2005
McMINNVILLE, Tenn. —
A Warren County elementary teacher has been charged with having a sexual relationship with one of her students, a 13-year-old boy.
Pamela Rogers Turner,27, was charged Monday with 15 counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and 13 counts of statutory rape. All the charges involved the same boy.
Turner teaches physical education and coached girls basketball at Centertown Elementary, a Warren County school with grades kindergarten through eight in McMinnville.
District Attorney General Dale Potter said investigators believe some of the offenses happened at the school and some at the boy’s home.
Turnerl ived at the boy’s house “for a brief period of time when she was moving from residence to residence,” Potter said Tuesday. The boy’s parents knew she was living there but didn’t know anything about a sexual relationship, Potter said.
Potter declined to comment on the nature of the relationship between Turner and her student, but he said investigators discovered multiple acts of sexual intercourse.
“It’s attracting attention because it’s a female teacher, and that’s a little out of the ordinary,” Potter said. “But for us, a sex abuse case is a sex abuse case.”
Turner was recently divorced from Chris Turner, who is the head boys basketball coach at Warren County High School, according to the Southern Standard newspaper in McMinnville.
Turner was arrested Monday in Clarkrange, her hometown in Fentress County about 55miles northeast of McMinnville, Potter said.
Convictionon all counts could be punished by up to 100 years in prison. But Potter said it was more likely that a conviction would mean a minimum of a year to several years in prison.
Arraignment was set for Feb. 23.
Teacher Arrested for Sex With Student
Sunday , January 23, 2005
A 33-year-old Redwood City teacher has been arrested after DNA tests confirmed that a former student fathered her 2-year-old baby when he was 16-years-old.
Rebecca Boicelli was arrested Thursday on three charges of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and statutory rape, Redwood City police said. Boicelli faces up to five years in prison.
The Menlo Park woman is being held on $500,000 bail at the San Mateo County jail. She had worked as a substitute teacher at several schools in the Redwood City Elementary School District.
Boicelli met the boy while teaching at the district’s Opportunity School, when he was in middle school. The boy at the time was just 14.
Students have reported seeing the two together often. A custodian also told authoritie she saw the pair kissing. And the boy’s mother claimed Boicelli had given her son pornographic material.
Police began investigating Boicelli in March after another teacher reported odd behavior between her and the student.
The father is now 18-years-old and has since dropped out of school.
FOX News’ Adam Housley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Teacher Accused of Molesting Two Boys
Saturday, January 08, 2005
SANTA ANA, Calif. —
A 28-year-old English teacher was charged Thursday with 20 counts of lewd acts for allegedly having sex with two of her former students when they were between the ages of 12 and 14.
Sarah Bench-Salorio was charged with molesting the boys between May and December of last year.
The Santiago Charter Middle School teacher appeared in court Thursday for an arraignment but it was postponed until Jan. 14. She was jailed on $1 million bail following her arrest Tuesday.
Defense attorney Alan Stokke said Bench-Salorio is embarrassed.
“She is very embarrassed and wants everybody to know she is very embarrassed by what has happened,” he said outside the courtroom. “She’s sympathetic toward the families of the young men involved. She’s sympathetic because of theeffects this is having on her school.”
Bench-Salorio, of Orange, allegedly seduced the boys “over dinner, through e-mails andphone calls for several months before any molestation started,” countyDistrict Attorney Anthony Rackauckas said at a press conference.
Ifconvicted, she faces up to 46 years in prison, Rackauckas said.
Theteacher allegedly had sex with the boys at numerous locations but never atschool, authorities said.
Police learned of the alleged abuse Monday after one of the boys told his parents.
Bench-Salorio,who has worked in the Orange Unified School District for two years, was placed on administrative leave.