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42-year-old Teacher Marries Teen Student, Avoids Jail

Aired January 23, 2013 - 20:00   ET


RITA COSBY, GUEST HOST: Breaking news tonight out of Brunswick County, North Carolina. A married 42-year-old teacher and mother of two is busted teaching more than reading, writing and arithmetic. She`s accused of statutory rape, and the victim is a boy student. He`s only 15 years old.

Just two days after signing divorce papers, leaving her husband of 19 years, the alleged child predator runs to the altar and marries the teen boy. The wedding lets her walk free on felony charges.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A former North Carolina teacher charged with having sex with a student won`t be facing trial. She married her alleged victim after his mom signed documents allowing the minor to get hitched. This happened less than a week after the teacher ended her 19-year marriage. Authorities say the young husband can`t testify against his wife.


GRACE: And good evening, everybody. I`m Rita Cosby, in for Nancy Grace. I want to thank you so much for being with us.

A stunning story out of Brunswick County, North Carolina, where a married teacher goes from statutory rape charges on a 15-year-old boy student to becoming his bride.

For the very latest, let`s go to Dave Mack, morning talk show host with Clear Channel WAAX radio. Dave, tell me what happened with this teacher, 42 years old, and the 15-year-old student?

DAVE MACK, CLEAR CHANNEL WAAX (via telephone): You know, the amazing part of this, Rita, is that they had this entire case settled. Everything was done. They had Johnny (ph), the boy, you know, admitting that they`d sex when he was underage, when he was only 15. She`s a married teacher. And they`re able to flip-flop it by his mother agreeing to allow them to marry, and now spouses can`t testify against one another, so the prosecutors have nothing.

COSBY: It`s incredible! Fran (ph) Norton, crime reporter with Star News, walk us back how this whole thing first happened with the teacher. She`s 42 years old. They start having an affair when he`s, what, 15. How does this happen? And this is rape! I mean, this is a minor!

F.T. NORTON, STAR NEWS (via telephone): I`m not certain how the affair started, and I`m not even certain if he was 15 at the time. It shows that probably some time in 2009, the affair started. Somebody from the school board found out, and they contacted police. And then the student was brought in for questioning and then the teacher was brought in for questioning. And she was arrested that evening, which was January 6th of 2010.

COSBY: Clark Goldband, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER, this went on for, what, two years? He`s 15. She`s now 42. She was his teacher, correct?

CLARK GOLDBAND, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Yes, Rita, she was his teacher. And it`s important to point out that these are just allegations due to the fact that none of this was ever prosecuted. She taught this child 9th grade English. She was his English teacher, Leah Shipman.

However, she waited a few years and married him. But Rita, when she married him, the boy was still under age and had to get his mom`s permission to get married!

COSBY: Unbelievable! So Clark, the mother actually gives permission? First of all, let me get this straight. The boy is 15. She`s now 42. She`s his teacher, English teacher. You know, sounds like she was teaching a lot more than vowels, obviously, in this case. And the mother says, Go ahead, take my son. You`ve already raped him. Take my son. I mean, this is amazing, Clark!

GOLDBAND: Well, Rita, the mom did authorize that marriage. And in fact, she had to because he was a minor and could not get married until he was 18. I also want to point out to you, Rita, that the divorce -- this woman was married for 19 years to her husband. She got a divorce, and just six days later, less than one week, married this child!

COSBY: I understand we now have the district attorney in this case, Jon David. Thank you so much for being with us. This must just shock you. Here you are. You`re a prosecutor. You have this information of statutory rape. I even hate to use the word affair. It`s not an affair. It`s rape. She is a teacher. And yet you can`t go forward with the charges?

JON DAVID, DISTRICT ATTORNEY (via telephone): Well, actually, we were able to go forward with certain charges. This is not...

COSBY: But very limited, right, Mr. DA? You`re very limited.

DAVID: We are very limited. Unfortunately, the fact of their marriage has frustrated our ability to compel him as a witness to testify against her. and having been deprived of that crucial piece of evidence, our prosecution was effectively gutted. So at the end of the day, she pled guilty only to a misdemeanor.

COSBY: Explain to me the North Carolina law because it varies from state to state. It is so broad. In this case, all she had to do was basically marry him and then she had, you know, the husband. He couldn`t testify against her, correct?

DAVID: Well, that`s correct. There`s something called a spousal privilege, which recognizes that people in a relationship do not have to be compelled to testify against one another. And effectively, what happened here is about a year into our prosecution, they got married. And it`s previously been pointed out that was done with the victim`s parent`s consent. In fact, his own mother signed off on their marriage certificate. And when that happened, that effectively deprived the state of being able to call him as a witness against her, which was the crux of our proof.

COSBY: And Mr. District Attorney -- again, we`re talking to Jon David, the district attorney in this case. I understand that under North Carolina law, if it was -- she was married, which is the whole -- this is such a crazy case! But under North Carolina law, if something had happened inappropriate to her kids or their kids, then the husband could have been - - you know, she could have been compelled to testify. A husband could have been compelled -- you know, the spousal privilege does not exist. But because it`s someone else`s child and she marries someone else`s child, that covers it?

DAVID: Well, we did some extensive legal research at the time that this -- the fact of the marriage occurred. We actually have a wonderful resource in the state of North Carolina in the Institute of Government, and some of the best minds in the state work at this institution. Their research was in line with ours, which is to say that we could not effectively use him as a witness once they got married.

COSBY: Unbelievable! Clark Goldband, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER, describe these text messages that were going back and forth. It sounds like this woman couldn`t even control herself, right? She was messaging him when the police hauled him in?

GOLDBAND: Rita, according to law enforcement -- and we obtained over 100 pages of documents relating to this case and the divorce. And I`ll read it right here. I have it in front of me. The detective viewed some of these text messages. Leah Shipman was describing in text messages wearing her black bra and tight-ass jeans with boots that he liked. There were texts stating she could not wait to see him, and if he was wearing his red shirt. The text messages, law enforcement says, were coming from Leah Shipman, were being sent during school hours, Rita.

COSBY: Clark, during school hours, she`s supposed to be working, and while the cops are questioning him about her, she`s sending these messages?

GOLDBAND: That`s right. And apparently, while law enforcement was questioning the teen boy, they happened to see these text messages coming through on the phone and asked the child to see the telephone. And that`s when they saw these alleged text messages.

COSBY: Unbelievable! I want to put them up again because it`s just incredible! Here -- remember, she`s 42 years old. She`s his teacher, former teacher, English teacher. She`s saying, "My black bra and my tight- ass jeans with boots." It`s just -- it`s -- it`s incredible!

Ramani Durvasula, clinical psychologist, when you see this woman -- she can`t even help herself. He`s being hauled in to be questioned by the cops, she`s sending him messages on his cell phone, texting these. What do you make of this?

RAMANI DURVASULA, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I mean, clearly, this teacher has very poor judgment and -- to even get into this relationship in the first place. These text messages are the perfect symptom of this poor judgment. So I mean, I think it was perfect, like, it nailed it because it showed that she wasn`t even thinking on the front end.

I really think she had sort of this -- this sort of psychotic sense of this is some great, sweeping romance and that they`re special and somehow that they have this great love story.

COSBY: Forgetting she`s a teacher and he is the student. Ramani, this is just -- what goes on in these women`s heads and men`s heads? I mean, it doesn`t matter. You`re a teacher. It doesn`t matter if you`re a man or a woman. It`s outrageous!

DURVASULA: Yes. It`s the ultimate betrayal of trust. And I don`t think she quite understands her power in this relationship because it`s going to set him up for a lifetime of, I think, being pretty messed up about sexuality, and also around trust because she was supposed to be someone trusted.

It makes you wonder about things like self-esteem issues, mental illness in this woman. And many times, as their relationship is going south, they`re looking for comfort and reassurance. And where else to find it but in a young, impressionable kid?

COSBY: Unbelievable! I just think it`s outrageous!

Let`s go to the callers. Let`s go to Christina from Canada. You`re on the line, Christina. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I actually had a couple of comments. The reason charges were probably dropped was because either (ph) the parents signed for them to marry. Because they`re married, you can`t testify against another. And wasn`t there a judge not too long ago that said something to the effect that you can -- it can only be called rape if you`re single?

COSBY: Well, you know...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wasn`t that in the news not too long ago?

COSBY: You know what? You actually hit a lot of great points. Clark Goldband, she had some great points. It is because the mother, which is a whole other point, allowed this boy to get married who`s a minor!

GOLDBAND: That`s right, Rita. And that is the crux of the problem that the prosecution in this case had. In fact, they were only able to prosecute her for a 30-day suspended sentence for being combative about those text messages and hindering an investigation. That was the only charge that was able to come in.

All of the statutory rape, the sex with a minor, any of those types of charges that were possibly on the table had to be removed because he would not testify against his new wife.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The child is just 15 years old, attending school for children who are considered to be at risk. But his teacher allegedly had sex with him and is facing charges of statutory rape, sexual offense with a student and taking indecent liberties with a student.

But suddenly, the charges are dropped. Why? The student and teacher are now husband and wife. The teacher divorces her husband of 19 years and then marries the student less than one week later.


COSBY: And it`s a married 42-year-old mother of two, and she`s having sex, and it`s statutory rape, guys, because it`s a 15-year-old student. She also sends these text messages saying, you know, Take a look at my bad- ass tight jeans. Are you wearing your red shirt? Incredibly juvenile and incredibly crazy and illegal!

Let`s go to the defense attorneys, if we could, because this is an incredible case because what happens here -- she ends up marrying the guy! Again, he`s a minor. She marries him. The mother allows it. And that`s how she gets off. Incredible!

Let`s go to Peter Odom, Carmen St. George. Peter, what`s the message here, marry your victim and then everything`s forgiven? It`s incredible!

PETER ODOM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Look, this is statutory rape. The only reason this is called rape at all is because of the kid`s status as a 15- year-old at the time that it happened. So it`s...

COSBY: It`s still rape, Peter! Peter, I`m glad to say it`s statutory rape. It`s rape!

ODOM: It`s not -- Rita, there`s a huge difference. It`s not a forcible case. This is a kid that willingly did it. He didn`t even...

COSBY: Peter, wait a minute!

ODOM: He didn`t even report this case.

COSBY: Peter!

ODOM: If I can finish my sentence?

COSBY: Peter -- no, wait a minute! Peter...

ODOM: He didn`t even report this case!

COSBY: Peter, I`m not going to let you finish because...

ODOM: It was the authorities who reported it.

COSBY: ... it`s a 15-year-old boy. He was her student. There is a teacher/student relationship, and it`s completely inappropriate. Don`t you agree?

ODOM: Inappropriate...

COSBY: Please tell me that you don`t think that that`s OK, to go around raping your students. It doesn`t matter what age. It`s inappropriate. And he was 15 at the time, Peter!

ODOM: The rules say that she can`t be prosecuted for it.

COSBY: Yes, it`s a crazy rule!

ODOM: So you tell me.

COSBY: It is a crazy rule, don`t you agree?

ODOM: Well, that`s your opinion.

COSBY: Oh, you think it`s a great rule?

ODOM: Look, you`re stating your opinion.

COSBY: But Peter, are you -- are you...

ODOM: I`m just telling you what the facts are, Rita.

COSBY: ... are you ready to go -- Peter, are you ready here to go on national television and say, OK, go ahead and rape your kids, just have them marry you and then everything will be OK? Is that what you`re saying, that it`s a fine rule?

ODOM: Rita, nobody would ever feel that it`s OK to rape kids.

COSBY: Come on!

ODOM: This is statutory rape. You`ve got to understand the difference. You do, don`t you?

COSBY: Yes, I hope you understand the difference!

ODOM: This is a technical violation.

COSBY: Yes, because you`re saying a technicality? So let`s just let him walk! Carmen...


ODOM: The law says he walks.

COSBY: Yes, how wonderful. Isn`t that great, Peter? What a wonderful thing!


ODOM: You got your opinion.

COSBY: You`ve got a crazy opinion! Carmen?


ODOM: Well, that`s your opinion, too.

ST. GEORGE: If you`re questioning her judgment, that`s one thing. But you know, generally, I would say you shouldn`t marry anybody that you could have given birth to, and in the reverse, you shouldn`t marry somebody that could have fathered you. But in the end, the...


COSBY: Those are kind of problems, huh, Carmen, don`t you think?

ST. GEORGE: Well, of course. But the issue is, had she not been his teacher, the mother could have still given permission for them to marry and they would have been married.

COSBY: You know, the whole other thing -- Carmen, by the way, you bring up a great point about this mother because I want to know what`s going on with this mother`s head that she goes, OK, it`s OK that the teacher is sleeping with my son when he`s 15, and now I`ll allow him -- now I`ll send him off to be with her all the time. I mean, I got to question the mother`s judgment, don`t you?

ST. GEORGE: But Rita, where`s the crime? You may question her judgment...

COSBY: Carmen, what`s your...


ST. GEORGE: ... but in the end, as a parent...

COSBY: What do you think...

ST. GEORGE: As a parent, it`s...

COSBY: ... of the mother?

ST. GEORGE: Look, personally, what I think of the mother?


ST. GEORGE: That`s -- my own personal feeling is that of course that is not something that should be permitted. Clearly, this is headed for divorce in the future, most probably, based upon -- I mean, you can look at Mary Kay Letourneau. She got punished for the crime. In this instance...

COSBY: As she should!

ST. GEORGE: ... we don`t have anything to punish her with because...

COSBY: Because the North Carolina...

ST. GEORGE: ... we cannot use him as a witness.

COSBY: Because the North Carolina law says, basically, marry your victim and get away with it. I understand the law. I think it is a terrible law!

You bring up Mary Kay Letourneau. We all remember this case. Of course, she was with Vili Fualaau. She ended up marrying him after she got out of prison. I remember -- in fact, I spent -- I remember talking to Vili Fualaau during this whole time. The kid was so immature. And she served time for it.

Let`s go to Mary -- let`s go to Anne Bremner, if we could. She is a friend of Mary Kay Letourneau. Anne Bremner, when you hear all this, what`s the message? You know, what`s going on? Here this case, and now in North Carolina, a totally different situation because of state law.

ANNE BREMNER, ATTORNEY AND FRIEND OF MARY KAY LETOURNEAU (via telephone): Well, it`s such a pleasure to be on with you, first of all, Rita.

COSBY: Thank you.

BREMNER: And you know, it`s almost like deja vu all over again because you remember with Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau, she originally did a plea, a plea deal, where she got about 30 days. And then she violated the terms of that and then served seven full years in prison. And in fact, she had no good time because she tried to contact him during that time, so she served her full sentence with no time off for good behavior.

And of course, they`re married. And she`s now 50, if you can believe it, and I think Vili`s about 30. They have two kids and they`re doing very, very well.

COSBY: But she served time. She paid the price. Does she realize...

BREMNER: Seven years.

COSBY: ... what she did was wrong?

BREMNER: Yes, but we don`t -- Mary always said -- and she`s -- I dealt with a civil case with Mary for 10 weeks, and I`ve known her for over a decade. And you know, back at the time, she said, well, it was more like a moral failing. And then -- so these other stories are out there saying, Is it a love story? Is it a crime story? You know, it was romanticized. They called her the Joan of Arc of forbidden love. If you squint your eyes, it all makes sense.

So hers was the first case, and it was very much, of course, widely publicized and I think portrayed in far different light -- in a far different light than this instant case, the Shipman case, where you`ve got somebody that came in, got a great deal.

And basically, I think, a lot of people say, you know, she turned the law upside-down. But the law is what it is. It says that he can`t testify, he can`t be compelled to testify. And the question in her case is will it end up like Mary Kay Letourneau`s case, where Mary ultimately got married and is living happily ever after?

COSBY: And they have now two kids, right? I mean, it`s an incredible situation when you see it and you go, What`s going on?

BREMNER: One of them is dating now, much to the consternation of Vili.

COSBY: Oh, really? That`s interesting.

BREMNER: Isn`t it?

COSBY: So he`s having a problem with them dating?

BREMNER: Well, I think it`s hard on him, yes. So it`s just -- it`s an interesting scenario. And I think because Mary served her time, and it was clearly criminal and it`s statutory rape, by statute, by age -- you know, in some states, it used to be 14, the age of consent. I think it started initially in the 16th century at 12. But the fact is, he was 13. This boy was 15. Age of consent was 16 in North Carolina, as it was here.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Brunswick County teacher is charged with having sex with her 15-year-old student, but in a shocking twist...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... avoids rape charges after she says "I do" with the alleged victim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She gets out of serving any jail time. Why? The student has married the teacher. Authorities say this means a husband legally cannot testify against his wife.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did this happen?


COSBY: And she marries the victim -- again, 42-year-old teacher, the victim is 15 years old.

Let`s go back to Clark Goldband, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER. Clark, one of the things I think that upsets me so much in this case, too -- first of all, it`s a teacher and a student. We can`t lose sight of it. I don`t care what the law says, it is outrageous! The fact that she marries him to get off is just crazy!

But then in addition to this, the school is for at risk kids. This was a kid who maybe needed a little extra help, needed to really be on the straight and narrow, and what does she do? She sexually assaults him. She`s his teacher!

GOLDBAND: She was teaching at the Brunswick County Academy, and as you said, Rita, that is, in fact, for children who are considered to be at risk or higher risk, children that may have certain behavioral problems. So in fact, that is where this student attended school and took this English class, where this woman who is now his wife was his English teacher in 9th grade.

COSBY: Unbelievable! Let`s go to Elizabeth Beach. She prosecuted the Brittni Colleps case. That was a case that we covered pretty extensively. And that was just another outrageous story. Let`s go, if we could, to Elizabeth. I want to ask you -- in that case, in the Brittni case, that was -- the kids -- they were teacher -- she was a teacher. The students were, what, 18, 19, and it was a group of them, right, one night?

ELIZABETH BEACH, PROSECUTED BRITTNI COLLEPS (via telephone): Yes. There were five victims in total. Four of them were 18. One of them was 19. She was actually their senior English teacher. They were all in her class. And there were several episodes where it was group sex between Colleps and four of the students at once. And one of those incidents they captured on a cell phone video. So we had some pretty damning evidence in the case.

COSBY: And also, she -- the kids were not minors, but they got her on, what, improper relationship charges.

BEACH: Yes. In Texas, there`s a statute that says it`s improper for an educator to have a sexual relationship with a student.

COSBY: Which, boy, I wish it was in North Carolina, too, huh? It`s crazy when you hear this. What`s your reaction to what`s happening, North Carolina, marry the victim.

BEACH: It`s pretty outrageous. It`s upsetting that this is a statutory rape with a 15-year-old that is the teacher having sex with a student. And then it`s very upsetting that the victim`s own mother is the one that is basically sweeping this under the rug by letting her son marry the perpetrator. That`s very, very disturbing.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A former North Carolina teacher charged with having sex with a student won`t be facing trial. She married her alleged victim after his mom signed documents allowing the minor to get hitched. This happened less than a week after the teacher ended her 19-year marriage. Authorities say the young husband can`t testify against his wife.


COSBY: And that is because she marries the victim. Let`s go back to NANCY GRACE PRODUCER Clark Goldband. Again, tell us again what happened. She`s 42. At the time this happens, he`s 15. She was his teacher, English teacher, but obviously not teaching, you know, English or vowels, teaching him a heck of a lot more, unfortunately, right, Clark?

CLARK GOLDBAND, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER, COVERING STORY: Here`s what we know according to reports, Rita. This child was 15 years old and engaged, allegedly, in a sexual relationship with his English teacher, his ninth grade English teacher, Leah Shipman. Their first sexual encounter, he was just 15 years old. And according to authorities, he admitted to them that sex acts had taken place. Sex had taken place.

However, she was facing all sorts of charges including statutory rape. That`s when the surprise happened in this case where she divorces her husband and then marries the student just six days later, and by marrying the student, Rita, that means he does not have to testify against the teacher because they are now husband and wife.

COSBY: Fran Norton, crime reporter with "Star News." You know, Fran, this woman was married, what, for 19 years? And what staggers me it`s totally inappropriate and, again, we can`t lose sight of the fact she`s a teacher, she`s 42 years old. He is the student. I don`t care if it`s a male, female, whatever the -- this is -- this is absurd. And then in addition to that she has two kids that are basically the same age as the boy she raped, right?

FRAN NORTON, CRIME REPORTER, STAR NEWS: Well, to put it in perspective. She married her first husband in `92. Her first child was born in April of `93, and Johnny, the victim in the case, was born in July of `93. So her youngest child is just three months younger than her new husband.

COSBY: Unbelievable. When you hear this, Ramani Durvasula, what is wrong with this woman? She`s got kids the same age as the boy she raped.

RAMANI DURVASULA, PH.D., CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: It makes you wonder what kind of validation she is seeking, you know, because that`s really what this feels like. It`s almost as though she got bored with one life, she got drew into -- drawn into this other thing. And again, whether -- what her mental health picture is, we don`t know. But at a minimum she has no judgment. And she worked the system to make it work for her. She had power over him and she was able to sort of invoke this North Carolina law. It makes me wonder how manipulative this relationship really was.

COSBY: Yes, it really does. And when you see some of the other cases out there, I mean, I think, of course --


COSBY: -- of Pamela Rogers Turner, I mean, in that particular case there was that video, all that cell phone footage. Of course Deborah LaFavre is another case. There`s been all these cases that happened through the years. And again, we cannot forget, everybody. She`s the teacher. She`s in the position of authority. He is the student.

Let`s go back to Elizabeth Beach, because you prosecuted the Brittni Colleps case. What is it with these teachers where they just don`t feel they have any boundaries? Here again this is a mother of two. It staggers me that she would do that, you know, not only to this boy because he is a boy. She`s got a family. She`s got two kids.

ELIZABETH BEACH, PROSECUTED BRITTNI COLLEPS, TEACHER WHO HAD SEX WITH STUDENT: And Brittni Colleps was the same way. She was married with three young children. I think a huge factor is they want what is forbidden. In our country it`s legal to have sex with almost anybody you want. But there`s a tiny minority of people that it`s illegal for you to have sex with. And so these teachers know that these young boys are forbidden fruit to them. And I think it makes it all that more attractive and scintillating to start a sexual relationship that`s secret and that`s forbidden.

COSBY: Let`s go back to the attorneys. Carmen St. George, Peter Odom.

You know, I don`t think it should make a difference whether it`s a male teacher, a female teacher. But you think about it in this case. I mean, she got a plea deal. We know the North Carolina law. We`ve already been through all this. Where you can marry the victim. But think about the perception had it been a male teacher and, sadly, I don`t think it matters whether it`s a male or female. It`s still a teacher/student relationship.

But, Peter Odom, think about it. If it had been a 42-year-old male teacher and then a 15-year-old girl.

PETER ODOM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, what I think you`re losing sight of, Rita, is first of all --

COSBY: Yes, what am I losing sight of here?

ODOM: Your concern should be with the law. I mean, it is the law that has allowed the situation to arise.


COSBY: No, you know what, Peter. My concern is with the student, the 15-year-old boy, who now is married to this sexual predator.

ODOM: And then -- well, you call her a sexual predator. The law doesn`t call her that.

COSBY: What, she is a wonderful, nice woman helping --

ODOM: Again, your problem is --

COSBY: Helping a -- helping a nice little student giving him some after-hour help?

ODOM: Look, I said -- the law -- the law is not able to prosecute her, Rita.

COSBY: The laws are not always right.

ODOM: You have a problem with the law. You disagree with the law.

COSBY: Yes, I do have --

ODOM: That`s fine. You`re entitled to your opinion.

COSBY: I have a big problem with the law and I have a big problem with your stance, too, Peter.

ODOM: Clearly.

CARMEN ST. GEORGE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Rita, you`re getting emotional about it and that`s the problem.

COSBY: You know what?


ODOM: All I --

ST. GEORGE: Peter is trying to explain --

COSBY: You know what -- you know what, Carmen, you know why I`m getting emotional? Because it`s a student and it`s a teacher, and I think it`s outrageous when you see a 15-year-old boy or girl, whatever it is, a student, who is being manipulated by a teacher who is in a position of authority. Yes, I get emotional because I care about kids. I`m sorry if you don`t.

ST. GEORGE: Of course, Rita. I care about kids, also.

ODOM: Well, the student is not the one complaining here.

ST. GEORGE: And so does Peter. The point is, whether or not it would survive under the law to prosecute her. And if you cannot establish that, then you can not bring forth the case. If you have evidence that she paid money or bribed this mother or had some undue force on her or fraudulent --


COSBY: Carmen, I get all that, but --

ST. GEORGE: -- to convince them to do this, then prosecute her for that.

COSBY: That it`s outrageous still. Do you agree the law needs to be changed?


COSBY: So we at least agree on that?

ST. GEORGE: That`s hitting the nail on the head, Rita. Legislate it. Change the law on this principle to avoid --


ST. GEORGE: -- for this loophole and then you would have solved this issue.

COSBY: Yes. Absolutely. But how about if we would have solved the issue by her not having an affair? What message does this send?

You know, Ramani Durvasula, when you hear this case, what message does it send to everybody in North Carolina? You know, go ahead and do whatever you want. I think it`s outrageous. What a terrible message to send to any student -- first of all, you think about how bad this boy has been affected.

DURVASULA: I respectfully disagree with Peter, to hide behind the law?

COSBY: Respectfully is a -- respectfully is a nice way. I don`t think he deserves a respect with the crazy answers he`s got.

DURVASULA: Yes, well -- I don`t agree. I mean, this idea of the law -- this kid and any other kids in this position will be harmed irreparably. The kid is not complaining. Most trauma victims don`t complain. That`s a fact. When something is done wrong to a kid they often don`t complain. They often just keep their mouths shut. This sets precedent and that`s the problem.

COSBY: Absolutely.

Dave Mack, morning talk show host with WAAX Radio, the one thing I keep going back to, too, is the mother. Explain this again to me. This is the mother of the victim and he is a victim, you guys. Let`s not make it sound like it was some, oh, you know, she`s a teacher. She`s in the position of authority.

The mother of this 15-year-old boy says, OK, it`s OK. You basically raped my son. Now go ahead and marry him after you allegedly raped him.

DAVE MACK, MORNING TALK SHOW HOST, CLEAR CHANNEL WAAX RADIO: Rita, there`s even more to it, OK? Because when you -- when we look at that, a couple of times I`ve heard it during the show, it being referred to as the teacher having an affair. She didn`t. She raped a 15-year-old. I have a feeling --

COSBY: Thank you. By the way, by the way, Dave, I don`t like the word affair. I agree with you. It`s outrageous.

MACK: And the thing is, I have a 15-year-old daughter, and I`m telling you, if a 40-year-old teacher at her school rapes her and they want to call it a relationship, you`re going to do a story about how a morning talk show host killed a teacher for raping his daughter. But on top of that, Rita, if you look in the same county, in Brunswick County in North Carolina, they had a case in 2007 where a 40-year-old track teacher -- track coach and teacher married his 16-year-old track student.

They happened right in the same county. And in that case the parents also signed approval so that that teacher could marry the daughter. This is something that`s happening right there in the same county multiple occasions between 2007 and now. And that`s why the mother -- I mean, sure she signed off. These other parents did, too.

COSBY: Crazy.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Scandalous text messages. Sex encounters between a married mother of two and a teenager, all of it exposed. She`s a high school teacher, the teen boy is a student.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A teacher is charged with having sex with her 15-year-old student.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Forty-two-year-old Leah Shipman walked free on felony charges by becoming the teen`s bride.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Authorities say the young husband can`t testify against his wife.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does a teen`s mother fight back? No. She lets her son, now 17, marry a 42-year-old alleged child predator. So Leah Shipman doesn`t have to go to prison.


COSBY: And let`s go back to Clark Goldband, NANCY GRACE producer.

Clark, I want to go through these text messages again because the boy is being questioned. He`s being interrogated by police, again, her victim, for allegedly raping him. Remember, 42 years old, 15-year-old student, going on for two years. It just shows like how obsessed she was. He`s there at the police station. They`re questioning him about this case and - - she is sending him messages?

GOLDBAND: That`s according to the detective who was investigating the case, Rita, and I have those text messages right here. I`m going to read them right off the document verbatim as the officer described them in her report.

She says, Leah Shipman was describing a text messages wearing her black bra and tight assed jeans with boots that he liked. There were texts stating she couldn`t wait to see him and if he was wearing his red shirt. The text messages, the boy stated, were coming from Leah Shipman, were being sent during school hours. So --

COSBY: So she`s working? So, Clark, she`s supposed to be working. How about teaching your students as opposed to being a sexual predator, as it seems in this case? So he`s --

GOLDBAND: According to law enforcement, yes.

COSBY: So she`s working and she`s sending messages.

GOLDBAND: That`s right, Rita. Law enforcement said as they were questioning this 15-year-old boy --

COSBY: Unbelievable.

GOLDBAND: -- the text messages started to come in on his Pantech cell phone and that`s when they looked over his shoulder and said, let`s go ahead and see these text messages.

COSBY: All right. Fran Norton, crime reporter. This crazy North Carolina law which, again, is outrageous. We all agree on that. So this goes forward, she marries her victim. The mother signs off on it. And what does she get at the end of the day for allegedly raping her 15-year- old student?

NORTON: Well, she pled guilty for resisting an officer.

COSBY: Wait. Wait, wait.

NORTON: For the text messages.

COSBY: No rape charges, no this. Tell me again what the end of the day is?

NORTON: All of the -- all of the sexual assault related charges were dismissed.


NORTON: They had the statements that the boy made to investigators, but a defendant has a right to face their accuser, and if the state couldn`t compel the juvenile to testify because he`s married to her, they couldn`t stack up the statements that he made to officers and so the case - - the sexual assault case would disappear and she pled to the -- to charges related to the text messages.

COSBY: So, Dave Mack, what is her sentence because of this crazy law? She marries the victim. Because of this whole crazy law on the books. What does she actually get at the end of the day for these minor offenses?

MACK: Yes, for raping a 15-year-old and getting --

COSBY: Unbelievable.

MACK: -- away with it, he`s given -- it`s almost like a game show. Now Miss Shipman is given a suspended 30-day jail sentence and 12 months of probation. She does have to pay $345 fine and surrender her teaching license. It`s crazy, Rita.

COSBY: So it`s a misdemeanor. Let me walk you through again. We got this here. Three hundred and forty five bucks is what she`s facing, a year of probation, 30-day suspended jail sentence. When you hear this, you go, what the heck?

Elizabeth Beach, you prosecuted another case, the Brittni Colleps case. You hear this -- this is a slap on the wrist.

BEACH: It is. It`s a tiny slap on the wrist. A misdemeanor as opposed to getting a felony conviction. Brittni Colleps was convicted on 16 counts of second-degree felonies and the jury actually sentenced her to five years in the Texas penitentiary, so that`s a huge chasm between what happened in the Colleps case and what happened in this North Carolina case.

COSBY: You bet. OK, Brittni Colleps gets five years.

Let`s go to Anne Bremner, friend of Mary Kay Letourneau, another teacher who had an inappropriate relationship with a student and also worked with the cops in that case.

Anne, slap on the wrist in this case. I want to put it up again if we could. Thirty days suspended sentence. She pays 345 bucks after allegedly raping her student for two years? They got the text messages. Again, they can`t use any of it because this crazy North Carolina law. But, you know - - you know, Anne, you know Mary Kay very well. She spent years behind bars.

ANNE BREMNER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: She did. She did. And, you know, statutory rape is a really strict liability. It doesn`t matter what your intent is, it doesn`t matter what kind of force you use, it doesn`t matter if you use any at all. It`s simply by virtue of the age of the victim that it`s considered legally rape.

So of course the law didn`t provide, at least in North Carolina, for follow through on that -- on that kind of offense, but, you know, I think, Rita, the way I`ve always looked at these cases and Mary`s cases is, you know, the women and men are different when it comes to sentencing. And the men are demonized and the women are diagnosed. But these women are --


COSBY: And that`s sad. And that`s sad. I`m glad you`re hitting on the point, Anne. Because it shouldn`t matter whether you`re a man or a woman. It`s still improper and illegal in most instances except for this crazy North Carolina thing.

BREMNER: Well, yes, North Carolina, who would have thunk? But -- to have that kind of provision in North Carolina. But the fact is also that with women, when we talk about predatory, you know, and affairs, the women, what we`re seeing in a lot of these cases, with the exception of one who we`re discussion tonight, they have one victim. They`re not the predatory types of perps like the men that have, you know, many, many victims as I saw when I was a D.A. prosecuting sex crimes.

And we actually incarcerate for life predatory sex offenders in Washington state civilly and the definition of predator is if they have numerous victims and will be ongoing.


COSBY: And by the way -- by the way, Anne, I want to tell everybody, we`re looking at pictures of Pam Rogers, who sent this video of her dancing for her student. I mean, talk about seduction. They have -- they have like no shame. Incredible.

BREMNER: Well, absolutely. But then of course just the whole concept of some are 42 and Mrs. Robinson and the trial I had, the jurors, you know, hot for a teacher, that song, homework was never quite like this. There`s a lot of those kinds of concepts in these cases, too.

COSBY: Yes. Teaching was never like this either, boy.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just how was a minor allowed to marry his teacher?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: With his mother`s blessing. She leaves her husband of 19 years for a 17-year-old boy she was once charged with sexually assaulting.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: His mom signed documents allowing the minor to get hitched.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Charges of statutory rape, sex acts by a teacher, and indecent liberties with a child.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Suddenly, the charges are dropped.


COSBY: And the teacher is 42 years old. Mother of two. The victim, her 15-year-old student. And I want to put up again what she gets in this particular case. She gets to pay 345 bucks for this. Again, allegedly raping him for two years. One year probation. And also a 30-day suspended sentence. What happens to the kid?

Ramani Durvasula, this young boy is going to an at-risk school, needs help. What kind of therapy should someone like that get? And by the way, he ain`t going to get any therapy, Ramani because his mother let him get married to her. So talk about therapy.

DURVASULA: Here`s -- the situation is fascinating because you`ve already got a mother who`s clearly got some questionable boundaries in being willing to let her son go off and marry this woman. And then of course he falls prey to a teacher with questionable boundaries. This is a vulnerable kid. These kids are at risk. And so this is -- story shapes up. The kind of therapy he`s going to need, he`s probably not going to get because it sounds like he`s now under the sway of this woman. But he definitely needs someone to help him work on trust issues.

This is somebody who`s going to have issues with authority probably for the rest of his life. And certainly issues around sexuality because it`s become now such a bizarre space for him.

COSBY: Yes, what a crazy life this kid is going into. Thanks to the mother.


COSBY: Let`s go back to the defense attorneys, Carmen St. George, Peter Odom.

We`re looking again at pictures of Pamela Turner there wiggling in her behind. That`s what she sent her student. And in this case, you know, you just heard from Ramani, normally you`d say let`s take the kid for therapy, let`s get him help. He`s not getting any of that. He`s now going into a life with this woman, this sexual predator.

Peter, it`s incredible.

ODOM: There are two laws in play here that really -- you know, are at play. First of all, the Constitution of the United States, which protects the right to confront witnesses, and the marital privilege law in the state of North Carolina. Now, I, unlike many of your very learned guests, am not so quick to dispense with those and throw them into the trash because they result in something that you don`t like.

COSBY: You know what, what I don`t like is a teacher sleeping with her student. That`s what I don`t like. It`s incredible. It`s insane, Peter.


COSBY: And tonight, everybody, we remember American hero, Army Private First Class Devon Michel, just 19 years old from Stockton, Illinois. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He loved basketball and rock music. He leaves behind his parents, Rebecca and Terry, his sisters Holly and Katie, and widow Annika.

Devon Michel, a true American hero.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The teacher accused of sleeping with a minor.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Divorces her husband of 19 years.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: She`s a high school teacher. The teen boy`s her student. But that`s not all.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A Brunswick County teacher is charged with having sex with her 15-year-old student. But in a shocking twist she gets out of serving any jail time. Why? The student has married the teacher.


COSBY: And let`s go back to Clark Goldband.

Clark, you know, in this particular district they`ve had other cases before. And in fact, one involving, what, a janitor and a special needs student? But what I think is good, by the way, everybody, in this case it does sound like the school acted quickly. They suspended the teacher in our case that we`re referring to today. And they did take quick action. But this has happened before, right, Clark?

GOLDBAND: Yes, Rita, in 2007 there was a track coach who had an affair with his student. And he actually resigned from school the day they married. Also, as you had just previously mentioned, that janitor was convicted of multiple sex offenses and according to reports his victim had special needs.

COSBY: Dave Mack, what I think is so crazy in this care, the mother, the way this woman gets away with all of this is because of North Carolina law. She married the victim, and the mother, his mother signs off on it, right, Dave?

MACK: Absolutely. And again, that happened in the previous case you just mentioned where the parents actually signed off on the 16-year-old daughter marrying the 40-year-old coach. This mother is just copying what others had done before in the exact same county.

COSBY: Ramani, is she just saying here you go, I`ve given up? It mean it sounds to me like a mother who`s saying forget about my son. How - - this poor boy.

DURVASULA: It almost is like she`s like I`m kind of tired of my kid, I`m going to send him on a playdate. I mean, it really -- there`s something really troubling about her decision-making and you have to wonder about what kind of history she`s had with her son. But like I said, ultimately, this is a boundary violation at home, a boundary violation by the teacher. That`s what this kid knows. I actually think this relationship with the teacher`s probably a familiar space.

COSBY: Sadly. And everybody, I`m Rita Cosby in for Nancy Grace. Be sure to tune in and listen to me every day on WOR Radio and online at 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Have a great evening, everybody. "DR. DREW" is coming up next.