Posted Feb. 21, 2008 – In Laurens County, S.C., where the tawdry topic of teacher-student sex is drawing far more attention than any of the townsfolk would like, there’s another issue being whispered out of earshot of the TV cameras – the issue of race.
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In Laurens County , a northern South Carolina community of about 10,000 residents – 54 percent of whom are White and 44 percent of whom are Black – Tuesday’s jailing of 24-year-old Allenna Ward for six years marked the second imprisonment of a White female teacher for sex crimes against Black boys in less than a year.
Wendie Ann Schweikert, a former elementary school teacher, began serving a 10-year sentence in June for having sex with an 11-year-old Black boy.
Ward, the daughter of a preacher, admitted to having sex at the school where she taught, a park, a motel and a restaurant after school officials found a note she had written to one of the boys. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison for each of three counts of lewdness against the 14- and 15-year-old boys, but they were reduced to six years in prison, to run concurrently.
"I apologize from the depths of my heart," Ward told the victims and their families in a teary statement in court Tuesday.
Some African-American residents suggested that the punishment would have been harsher had the victims been White and the perpetrator Black. But the sister of one of the victims says it’s time to move on.
"I just feel like justice has been served,” she said. “We're just glad that it's all over.”
Donna Schwartz-Watts, a psychiatrist, testified that Ward, who married young, is not a pedophile, but a childlike victim who suffers from personality disorders and a repressed childhood, The Associated Press reported. Schwartz-Watts attributed Ward’s behavior to a sheltered life under a strict minister father, who never allowed his daughter a moment of freedom.
"Whenever she did something wrong her father immediately knew about it," Schwartz-Watts told AP. "When she dated, the only way that she could go out on a date was to sit in the living room with her parents watching." Thus her actions in the classroom were those of a student rather than teacher, she said.
Ward’s attorney, Donald Hocker, said, "It's an awful case with awful consequences, but Allenna Ward is not an awful woman."
While the growing reports of sex between student and teachers are certainly not always defined by race, the implications of sex crimes involving White women and Black males is almost impossible to ignore in a state like South Carolina , where not that long ago Black males were lynched for looking at a White woman.
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