Sexual Predators Aren’t Always Found On The Internet – South Carolina Teacher Gets 6 Years In Prison for Sex with Teens!

Talk about choices and consequences – not far from where I used to live (Greenville, SC) in Laurens, South Carolina a teacher was sentenced to 6 years in prison for having sex with under aged teens. As a teen ethics speaker (www.chuckgallagher.com) I often make presentations to parents about the new jungle for sexual predators – the internet. Whether it’s MySpace or Facebook, many parents aren’t familiar with the territory for predators these days. What most would never suspect is that someone – a teacher – would inflict harm on those close to him or (in this case) her by betraying their trust.

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Allenna Ward, age 24, did that – she was convicted of having sex with 14 and 15 year old boys at the school where she taught. According to a report from CNN, “Police began investigating last year after school officials found a note believed to have been written by Ward to one of the boys. Some of the victims were students at Bell Street Middle School in Clinton, where Ward taught. She was fired about a year ago.”

Every choice has a consequence. So many times people assume that they can avoid the consequences if nothing happens immediately following their choice. Again, according to CNN forensic psychiatrist Donna Schwartz-Watts said Ward is not a pedophile, but rather a childlike victim suffering from personality disorders and a repressed childhood. Schwartz-Watts said the minister’s daughter lived a sheltered life but really was a “free spirit” who never got a chance to break away from her family.

I can’t begin to explain why Ward made the choices she did, but reality is – for the rest of her life she will be marked – not only from her experience in prison, but marked as a sexual predator – which in many ways is far worse than the mark of convicted felon.

According to an AP article, there is a steady drumbeat of sexual misconduct cases involving teachers, at least 15 states are now considering stronger oversight and tougher punishment for educators who take advantage of their students.

A nationwide Associated Press investigation published in October found 2,570 educators whose teaching credentials were revoked, denied, surrendered or sanctioned from 2001 through 2005 following allegations of sexual misconduct. Experts who track sexual abuse say those cases are representative of a much deeper problem because of underreporting.

The states referenced in the article that are considering significant changes are: California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

No doubt the issue raising national attention today will fuel the fire in South Carolina. In fact, South Carolina has created a new committee of parents, teachers, social workers and prosecutors to study the problem and come back with new ideas.

Though small statistically, the number of abusive teachers is too high, South Carolina Education Superintendent Jim Rex wrote after reading the AP report.

“I am nonetheless outraged by any incident in which an adult entrusted with the care of one of South Carolina’s students violates that student. The ramifications for that student, his or her family, and the community as a whole are painful and long lasting,” he wrote.

As parents, adults and voters we have an obligation to help protect our children from those who would harm them. I educate adults about the new playground where predators abound – the internet – social networking – MySpace and Facebook, but other places for abuse exist. Children have been abused in their church and their school. Neither should happen, but they do. The question is what will we do to protect them.

As always your comments are welcome.

If you live in the Laurens, South Carolina area especially and would like to comment – please do so.

One Response to Sexual Predators Aren’t Always Found On The Internet – South Carolina Teacher Gets 6 Years In Prison for Sex with Teens!

  1. bookwoman says:

    Interesting comments on sex offenders in South Carolina. However, did you know that SC lets sex offenders off the hook if they molest their own family members?

    South Carolina puts sex offenders who prey on children in jail up to 15 years and charges them with a felony crime — unless that sexual predator is related to his victim. Then he gets probation, therapy, or maybe one year in jail.

    A sexual predator is a sexual predator, regardless of who he chooses to molest. Family members who attack other family members should not get off so easy. This law needs to be changed to help make all SC children safe.

    SECTION 16-15-20. Incest. (from the South Carolina Legislature website)

    “Any persons who shall have carnal intercourse with each other within the following degrees of relationship, to wit:

    (1) A man with his mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, stepmother, sister, grandfather’s wife, son’s wife, grandson’s wife, wife’s mother, wife’s grandmother, wife’s daughter, wife’s granddaughter, brother’s daughter, sister’s daughter, father’s sister or mother’s sister; or

    (2) A woman with her father, grandfather, son, grandson, stepfather, brother, grandmother’s husband, daughter’s husband, granddaughter’s husband, husband’s father, husband’s grandfather, husband’s son, husband’s grandson, brother’s son, sister’s son, father’s brother or mother’s brother;

    Shall be guilty of incest and shall be punished by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars or imprisonment not less than one year in the Penitentiary, or both such fine and imprisonment.”

    SECTION 16-15-140. Committing or attempting lewd act upon child under sixteen. (from the SC website)

    “It is unlawful for a person over the age of fourteen years to wilfully and lewdly commit or attempt a lewd or lascivious act upon or with the body, or its parts, of a child under the age of sixteen years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of the person or of the child.

    A person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than fifteen years, or both.”

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