Video: Class of 2005, Teacher Sex Cases

msnbc.com
updated 12/30/2005 2:41:14 PM ET 2005-12-30T19:41:14

There is a disturbing and growing trend in public and private schools, with more and more cases of teacher/student sexual relationships rocking school districts across the country

There have been nearly two dozen reported cases of female teachers having sex with their male students this year alone.  These accused women range in age from 23 to 50 years old, and most of them leave court with just a slap on the wrist.

On Thursday, Trial Attorney Anne Bremner, who had close ties to the infamous Mary Kay Letourneau trial, Psychotherapist Dr.  Robi Ludwig and Clinical Psychologist and talk radio host Dr. Judy Kuriansky joined 'Live and Direct' Guest Host Jane Velez-Mitchell to discuss the problem.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Judy, let's start with you.  What the heck is going on with these older women and these boys?

JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST:  Well, think about it.  First of all, it's tremendously exciting to be desired and admired.  And so these girls may be 24, and like with Michael Jackson-you covered that case, Jane-they don't feel much older than the teenage boys.  They regress back to being back that age.  And it's exciting to have young boys have a crush on them.  So that's why they fall prey to it, even if they're married and have children and have a baby in the back seat.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And take a look at some of these women, Dr. Robi Ludwig.  They are attractive.  They are really good-looking.  They have a lot of things in common-well educated, attractive and married and teachers.  And I have a theory about this, and Dr. Robi, I'd like to get your reaction to this.  I think these women used to get a lot of attention when they were single, OK?  And men were all over them.  And then they get married, and oh, they're taken, they're unavailable.  In their circle of friends, they're off-limits.  But that's what they derive their self-esteem from.  So where do they go to get that kind of feedback?  They're getting it in the classroom from these 14, 15, 16, 17-year-old boys who are very hormonal and who are really giving them the kind of feedback that they used to crave.

DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST:  I think you're absolutely right.  And also, marriage is a lot about reality.  So it's very possible the feeling that they want to get they're not able to get from their husbands whether they're doing laundry, and they're making dinner, and they're feeding the baby. 

And when they're in the classroom, they might emotionally feel more in sync with the children or the teenagers that they're teaching.  There's a lot of sexuality in the air.  They might not know how to handle a teenager coming onto them, because a lot of these teachers don't get regular supervision, like therapists do, on what do you do if an attractive student comes on to you you're attracted to them?

So, in part, they don't get the training on how to handle it.  It is very exciting.  And if you top that with a mood disorder, or if you're impulsive, or if you never got to experience that in high school the first time around, it's very tempting. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And I know, Anne Bremner, you're not a sex therapist.  ... You're an attorney.  But you have dealt with the Mary Kay Letourneau case.  You deal with a lot of cases.  I mean, what do you sense is going on here?  Is this a case of women who are looking for attention? 

Because a lot of them did not do this in the past.  They don't have a history, like a lot of the men, of being serial pedophiles who go from victim to victim to victim.  They literally fall in love with their students. 

BREMNER:  They do.  Well, you know, it's said men are demonized and women are diagnosed in these cases.  And that's part of it. 

But, Jane, you and I covered the Michael Jackson trial.  And I always thought I could do a paper, comparative analysis, between Michael Jackson and Mary Kay Letourneau, arrested development, romanticizing things, Peter Pan, all children except for one grow up.  That's part of it, too, and it's attention.  Who but a 12-year-old would worship a woman and think there's nothing wrong with her and that she's perfect?  The rest of us, we don't have that in our lives. ... And that's that perfection that they're seeking. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  You know, you are bringing up a very important issue, in terms of sex and sexual development.  Dr. Judy, is there a physical sexual aspect to this?  Because experts will say that women are at their sexual peak in their 40s and men or boys are at their sexual peak when they're 18.  So, in a way, are they physiologically matched, like magnets being drawn together? 

KURIANSKY:  Well, that's very correct.  I'm going to give you an honorary degree there, Jane, because of that very appropriate analysis there. 

Indeed, the boys are developing.  And they have raging hormones.  And don't forget:  They're falling with crushes.  This is the age of the crush.  What 30-year-old guy is going to have the same crush on the women? 

And you're right, physiologically, women become not only sexually uninhibited at that time, they become more confident, in all aspects of their lives.  And therefore, they can feel more free and uninhibited.  And that aspect of being adored, admired, and having the arrested development all fall in together. 

There are different profiles though, because some of these women, in fact, are in that arrested development.  And some of them are just filled with the fact that they can control men.  They may feel controlled by men in other aspects of their lives.  Their husbands may tell them what to do.  But in this situation, they get to be the authority figure.  And that power that they have is what is also seductive. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, Dr. Robi, what can we do about this?  Obviously, this is a crazy solution if these women are seeking attention.  And we know men have outlets.  They can go to strip clubs.  And I'm not saying we condone this, but obviously a lot of men do this, or they can surf the web for x-rated sites or they can call x-rated phone lines.  That's not how women work, mentally, psychologically.  So do they not have a outlet, a healthy outlet?  Is that why they're going to these sick outlets? 

LUDWIG:  No, I mean, I think also you have to look at, why is it happening in the women's life when it is happening?  And if a woman for some reason is teaching and she finds that her needs are not getting met emotionally outside of the classroom, then that's something she needs to work on individually in therapy. 

She needs to find a way to have a healthy social life with people in her own age group.  If something is going on in her marriage that's unfulfilling, then that's something that needs to be addressed there. 

The school system also has to recognize that there are rules against certain relationships because there is an impulse to have those kinds of relationships.  So let's just call a spade a spade and say, "Hey, this is a natural inclination.  Let's educate our teachers about it.  Let's educate the community about it.  And let's educate families about it, so that they're very in touch on what's going on in their children's lives."

KURIANSKY:  I think men need to be really educated, too.  The men they're married to need to treat those women like goddesses and allow them to be as adored as they are by these young boys.  That would be healthy. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Treating women like goddesses is the answer to everybody's problem.  But, you know, it is a very, very serious, serious situation that we're dealing with here, because, while we can make light of sexual issues, the trauma on some of these boys is real.

And, Anne Bremner, what do you see is a societal solution to this?  I mean, locking these women up isn't going to cure them.  But is that the way to stop them? 

BREMNER:  No, I think that actually, with these women, they're not pedophiles.  Mary Kay Letourneau, if she was a pedophile, would be with her next 12-year-old, and she's not.  She married her victim, who's now 22. 

But the other part is, they're not predatory.  They seem to have just the one obsession, the one that they love.  Mary Kay Letourneau called herself the Joan of Arc in love.  That having being said, locking them up I don't think protects society to the extent it does with men. 

So I think we need to not glorify it.  Mary Kay Letourneau, $1 million for her wedding, all the publicity, all the tabloid attention.  The calls I get still are staggering.  And I think that's one part.  These are all beautiful women.  It's like, you know, "The Graduate" in the summer of '42.  And it shouldn't be glorified in that way. 

And, as Robi said, also, there should be therapy and everything else, but this is a real anomaly in the United States, these types of cases.  And, hopefully, we won't see more.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, I have to tell you, it's spreading.  It's spreading to Britain and it's spreading to Australia. 

BREMNER:  Yes, that's right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  They've seen the same cases, the same types of cases, sky rocketing.  So this seems to be some kind of trend. 

BREMNER:  But, Jane, one other thing I wanted to say is, you know, is it about love?  Is it about money?  You know, there's a lot here, a lot more than just your standard sex offender case that we can take a look at and try to make some changes so we don't have victimization. 

But one final thing:  The boys are not as damaged as the girls.  That's what the studies show.  So we need to look at this realistically.  I mean, we need to add accurate information. 

KURIANSKY:  Well, the boys may not be as damaged.  They may not be as damaged, but they are damaged. 

BREMNER:  That's true.

KURIANSKY:  And the point is that there's sexual stereotyping that the boys are supposed to love it, that they are being treated so well, that they can go tell their friends, "Oh, look who I got.  I got the teacher." 

But I have seen boys who have been damaged by this.  And it started years ago in Connecticut when they first realized nine cases of young boys who were traumatized by the fact that they were approached.  People think you can't have sex with a guy if you force him, but you actually can.  So the boys need to be taught, too. 

LUDWIG:  And also, too, if you look at the population of these boys, very often, these are the boys that don't have a strong family system and somebody to turn to.  So they are a little bit more vulnerable to teacher attention and perhaps even liking and needing the attention of an older woman. 

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,