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Nancy Grace

Another Florida Teacher Accused of Sex With Students

Aired May 09, 2008 - 20:00   ET


PAT LALAMA, GUEST HOST: Tonight: A young Florida teacher accused of sexually assaulting multiple young boy students even after two arrests. The 29-year-old school teacher just can`t stay away, refusing to leave these young boys alone. With strict court orders prohibiting her from making contact, she continues stalking these boy students by text, phone calls, and yes, even sexually assaulting one of the young boys again. She`s actually caught red-handed leaving the student`s home. And topping it all off, the teacher admits to a boy victim what she`s doing is against the law, and it`s all caught on tape.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal for what?

RAGUSA: It would be all over -- what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal for what? What did you say?

RAGUSA: It`s illegal.


RAGUSA: It would be all over the news and everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. Like that Debra Lafave thing?

RAGUSA: Yes. It`s not joke, I`m telling you, either end. It wouldn`t be from me because I don`t want to wear an orange jumpsuit, and it wouldn`t be from you because you couldn`t leave your house without someone trying to shove a camera in your face, wanting you to talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. That would suck, man.

RAGUSA: I don`t agree with, like, I don`t know, society`s and people`s judgment about this.


RAGUSA: But it wouldn`t matter if I agree with it or not.


LALAMA: Good evening. I`m Pat Lalama, in for Nancy and Grace. Tonight: A Florida teacher accused of sexually assaulting young boy students. Even after two arrests, she refuses to stay away and is busted all over again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: School teacher Stephanie Ragusa allegedly had sex with at least two young boy victims, but even after being arrested and charged twice, she didn`t get the message to stay away, Ragusa arrested a third time for allegedly contacting one of the young boys again. Investigators say it was more than casual contact, Ragusa charged with having sex again with the same student, investigators now looking at the possibility of other young boy victims.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, like, what exactly that we did was wrong, though?

RAGUSA: It`s illegal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like what, though?

RAGUSA: You`re under 18. I`m over 18 and -- I don`t know. Whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. I didn`t say anything.

RAGUSA: I don`t even like -- I don`t even like talking about it on the phone.


LALAMA: And there she is, admitting that what she was doing was against the law. And what this woman faces, five counts of lewd and lascivious battery. I want to go right out to Kathy Suzewits, news director of Metro Networks, Tampa, Florida. What`s the latest, Kathy?

KATHY SUZEWITS, METRO NETWORKS: Well, yesterday transcripts were offered to us. We got to see that Stephanie Ragusa knew what she was doing. We have known this since -- March 13, she was arrested the first time. April 15, she was arrested again, and again on April 28. This is an ongoing story with her.

LALAMA: It sure is, and it`s a matter of, am I right, two alleged victims that -- people she perpetrated?

SUZEWITS: Yes, two victims so far. Possibly more.

LALAMA: OK. You know, I want to ask Donald Schweitzer, former detective, Santa Ana Police Department. You know, there`s a lot of controversy about whether women who are involved in these kinds of crimes get the same persecution, for lack of a better term. What`s she likely to face on a first offense?

DONALD SCHWEITZER, FORMER DETECTIVE, SANTA ANA PD: Well, Pat, I think in this case, it shows that she`s very sophisticated, and the judge and the prosecutor has to take that into account. Just listen to her on the tape and you hear somebody that knows what she`s doing is wrong. She openly states that she disagrees with society and she`s going to go for it anyway. So I think that this one, you`re going to see a harsher penalty than what we`ve seen in the past with some of these people, particularly in that state.

LALAMA: Kathy Suzewits, back to you. She, I understand now, because she so blatantly went back to the scene of the crime, now has a little bit of a bail issue. Am I right?

SUZEWITS: Yes, she does. She was released on bail the first two times that she was arrested. This third time, she`s stuck in jail.

LALAMA: All right. Let`s go to our phone calls. Tyler in Maryland. How`re you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I`m good. How are you?

LALAMA: What`ve you got for me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just wanted to know, before she had started, you know, molesting these two boys, did she have any previous criminal history?

LALAMA: Good question. Here`s her previous. But I don`t know if you`d really call it a criminal history, a DUI that was dismissed and a battery charge that was apparently dropped.

I want to go to Stephen Hegarty, public information officer for the Hillsborough school district. Did you know anything about her past? I know you reprimanded her for not telling you something.

STEPHEN HEGARTY, HILLSBOROUGH SCHOOL DISTRICT PIO: Yes, we did. We do the criminal background checks before we hire anyone. The things that you just described would not necessarily keep someone out of the classroom.

LALAMA: Maribel Deleon is the mother of a student at Ragusa`s school. And you hosted a party where you actually witnessed this teacher arrive with students. And would it be fair to say you were shocked at what you saw?


LALAMA: Why were you shocked?

DELEON: Well, first of all, I`ve never heard of a teacher coming to a middle school party. And the second reason I was shocked is that she showed up with alcoholic beverage in her hand, which -- honestly, she looked like a student. So we immediately took the bottle out of wine cooler out of her hand and poured it out. And that`s when she introduced herself as a teacher.

LALAMA: Maribel, a lot of people wonder, did anybody go to the authorities and say, Hey, we`re just a little bit miffed at the fact that a teacher arrived at our child`s party?

DELEON: Well, I did want to. I mean, I debated whether to go to the school or not. And my husband said, Maribel, you know, you`re probably jumping to conclusions and you`re probably going to start trouble for her. I had asked my daughter, Did you invite her? She said, No, the students did at the dance. And Mom, she`s just a real cool teacher that all of us love very much, and you know, she probably felt like she had to come, you know, because they invited her. And I was, like, OK, you know? I just kept an eye on her the whole night.

LALAMA: Stacy Kaiser, psychotherapist, why is she smiling in her mug shot? Is there some significance to that? Is this her 15 minutes of fame?

STACY KAISER, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: I mean, it may very well be her 15 minutes of fame, but I think she`s smiling because she actually doesn`t believe she`s done anything wrong, so she`s proud of her behavior.

LALAMA: Very interesting point. That takes me to Dr. Jennifer Shu (ph), a pediatrician, co-author of "Heading Home" -- sorry, not with us yet. Forgive me.

Hugo Rodriguez is a defense attorney. Would you tell your client not to smile?

HUGO RODRIGUEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, FORMER FBI AGENT: Definitely not to smile, definitely not to text, and definitely not to make any more phone calls.

LALAMA: What`s the problem here? What do you read from this?

RODRIGUEZ: I don`t know. Obviously, she`s now back in jail after having posted bond twice. The boy -- I`m going to say this to you -- agreed and consented, even though that is still a violation of law. But normally, consenting witnesses don`t make the best witnesses for the state. I don`t know much more about it, other than I know she was on medical leave from the school. I don`t know the reason why she was on medical leave.

LALAMA: Yes. Let`s ask Stephen Hegarty that, from the school district. She talks about, in her audiotape, in the phone call, about being sick and she can`t keep food down and she hasn`t been to school. Do you have an idea what that was about?

HEGARTY: No, I really don`t, and I wouldn`t be able to discuss it if I did. But she had been out of the classroom for about a month on leave.

LALAMA: OK. Interestingly -- get ready for this, folks -- this woman, Ms. Ragusa, is from the same school district as the infamous Deb Lafave -- you know, the hot chick on the motorcycle, Deb Lafave, OK? And we are pleased to have her former husband with us, Owen Lafave, author of "Gorgeous Disaster." Boy, this must -- it`s deja vu for you, huh?

OWEN LAFAVE, DEBRA LAFAVE`S EX-HUSBAND: You know, it really is. And I`m listening to the details and the storyline, and there`s a lot of parallels between the two of them. It`s very (INAUDIBLE)

LALAMA: What are some of those, Owen? Tell us some of those parallels.

LAFAVE: Well, really, the conversations that they have, the fact that she did know what she was doing was inappropriate. Really, I mean, it`s just -- it`s -- I mean, it`s stunning.

LALAMA: Peter Schaffer, defense attorney, what they have against this woman thus far is an audiotape, a phone call, and this phone call was made at the behest of the police department, but her attorneys are saying it shouldn`t be allowed. Do you have an argument for that?

PETER SCHAFFER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you have an argument, but I`m afraid it probably comes in because one of the parties was consenting and it was arranged by the police. But what`s interesting about the phone call is while she admits she did something illegal, she doesn`t admit to the exact acts that she`s being accused of. So there`s all sorts of illegal things one can do, but she`s not coming right out and saying, you know, the most serious charges against her that she`s guilty of.

LALAMA: Let`s take another call. John in Texas. Hello, John.


LALAMA: Your question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You kind of addressed my question at first on the inappropriate grinning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But another thing that I was going to add is, like, I don`t totally understand the fact that, like, 15-year-olds can, you know, be tried for murder as an adult, but they`re not expected to be able to consent to have sexual intercourse.

LALAMA: Well, who wants to take that one? Don Schweitzer, former detective, Santa Ana Police Department, you can be tried as an adult for murder, but you can`t have consensual sex. Any thoughts?

SCHWEITZER: Well, I think that there is a conflict in the law. And I love that question. But think of this, is that 15-year-olds can be victims, just like 18 or 19-year-olds. The law has made a line in the sand saying that if you`re under 18, you`re not really mature enough to form these type of relationships and you can be preyed upon. The conduct could actually be very harmful to these 15-year-olds, in spite of the fact that they`re nearly grown up.

LALAMA: Well, we`ll talk about that a little later. A lot of people don`t think it`s harmful if the victim is a boy, which is just a thorn in my side when you discuss this matter. But you know what? I want everybody at home to be able to hear some of this taped telephone conversation. Let`s go to one of the audio clips.


RAGUSA: The age is illegal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal for what?

RAGUSA: It would be all over- what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal for what? What did you say?

RAGUSA: It`s illegal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be all over the news and everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. Like that Debra Lafave thing?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, like, what exactly that we did was wrong, though?

RAGUSA: It`s illegal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like what, though?

RAGUSA: You`re under 18. I`m over 18 and -- I don`t know. Whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. I didn`t say anything.

RAGUSA: I don`t even like -- I don`t even like talking about it on the phone.


LALAMA: Kathy Suzewits, news director, Metro Networks, how did this come to be now a public case, when it started back in 2006, I believe?

SUZEWITS: Well, we just found out about it in March of this year. You know, it`s an ongoing case with her. And she continues to have sex with these boys, two victims now, possibly even more.

LALAMA: You know, I want to go back to Stephen Hegarty. I know you can`t talk a lot about the details of the case, but you know, a lot of people just don`t buy that school authorities didn`t smell a rat here. I mean, people -- parents said teachers knew that her -- you even warned her about some of her behavior. Were you not keeping close tabs on this woman?

HEGARTY: Actually, we were. She was being counseled. Sometimes new teachers don`t know where to draw the line. They try to be buddies to their students. They try to relate to them a little too closely. When that happens, principal pulls you aside or writes you a letter and says, You need to learn where to draw the line. Obviously, from the tape that we`re hearing the other day, she did know where to draw the line, or she knew she should have. But teachers have rights. I mean, we could not pull her out of the classroom until we knew that she had done something wrong, and we did that as quickly as we knew.

LALAMA: But am I right that you gave her warnings for using profanity in the classroom, discussing personal matters. I mean, this isn`t an indictment of you. I understand that, you know, people can fall through the cracks. But still, she actually physically restrained a student once. I know this is a lot different than sexually assaulting a child, but these are serious matters. You think that she -- you know, she didn`t tell you the truth about -- she claimed to graduate with honors from college. You know, weren`t you a little bit dubious about this woman?

HEGARTY: I can tell you that we were keeping an eye on her. And I can tell you that this school year, the case was being made that she might not be brought back next year. So we were building a paper trail. Obviously, some things had happened last year that we weren`t aware of until March. And we acted as quickly as we could, brought law enforcement in, and she`s out of the classroom and off the payroll.

LALAMA: Maribel Deleon, are you not -- and you`re the mother of one of the students from her school. Does it not scare you a bit to -- that you, your family, is, you know, a part of this, not directly, but this is your district. These are your children.

DELEON: Oh, yes, it scares me. I honestly did not think that something like this would happen to my family or somebody that I know. And I wish now, looking back and hearing the news, that I would have said something to the -- you know, the deputy at the school about her showing up to the party.

LALAMA: Stacy Kaiser, psychotherapist, teachers are very astute. They sense things the rest of us may not. They have great instincts and intuition. I just don`t see how this woman didn`t stick out.

KAISER: I mean, I don`t understand it, either. I think that we`re looking at a case of somebody who had inappropriate boundaries. We`re looking at somebody who was behaving in a way that was questionable all over the place. And somehow, it just kept getting missed or overlooked.

LALAMA: I want to take another call. Do we have Courtney in Florida?


LALAMA: Hi. What`s your question, Courtney?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is, is if, you know, she had sex with these two boys, wouldn`t the parents have had, like, a restraining order against her?

LALAMA: Well, you know what? That`s a very good question, but here we go. Let`s talk to Peter Schaffer about this, defense attorney. I mean, a lot of times, you know, people want to say, Where are the parents? Weren`t they watching their sons? But you can pull the wool over the parents` eyes pretty easily, wouldn`t you say?

SCHAFFER: Yes. I mean, these -- these -- you know, we talk about kids, but they`re 14, 15, 16 years old now. They`re going to do what they want to do. And an order of protection is only good as the person that has it. You know, it doesn`t physically stop someone from being somewhere, so...

LALAMA: And Hugo Rodriguez, is it fair that she`s not -- that she`s been denied bail?

RODRIGUEZ: No, she`s now in custody, but she was -- it is fair. I mean, she has violated the conditions of the bond and that privilege of being out on bond. It can be argued she should be out, but violating that condition will keep her there in jail.

LALAMA: Owen Lafave, former husband of Deb Lafave, you know, did you find the same kind of quality in your former wife, that she couldn`t stop herself, that no matter what the rules are, the rules weren`t for her?

LAFAVE: A little bit. I mean, it was definitely a level of I guess of immaturity, definitely lack of judgment, dressing inappropriately, having inappropriate relationships just on the friendship level, on the surface. So I mean, there definitely were a lot of parallels.

LALAMA: You know, Owen, I also want to ask you this. She had made a comment -- not your ex, but Ms. Ragusa -- that, you know, My boyfriend says I shouldn`t go into teaching, because of these very kinds of allegations, almost like he had a sense that she couldn`t keep her hands off young boys. Did you have any inclination what your wife was up to?

LAFAVE: You know, I didn`t. I knew something was going on, and it`s just one of those gut instincts. But I think -- I mean, here is clearly someone who is emotionally immature, and he was probably concerned that she had very poor judgment and I think that, of course, is true here.

LALAMA: Kathy Suzewits from Metro Networks, do you know what she faces on each of these counts in your state?

SUZEWITS: She faces lewd and lascivious activity charges, of course, for each of the charges that she`s been arrested. Again, I think she is a teacher, and students like to have a cool teacher. And she took just it way too far. Arriving at the party in a mini-skirt and tank top with liquor? That`s just -- that`s out of control.

LALAMA: Well, it is way out of bounds. There`s a lot of other issues that go with that. She said she wanted the students to know that she liked the same kinds of things they do. And I think she -- it sounded like she tried to be a young person, as if she were in arrested development.

SUZEWITS: Yes, correct.

LALAMA: And you agree with that?



RAGUSA: People listen to cell phones and (DELETED) all the time, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People listen to cell phones?

RAGUSA: Yes. They have, like, one of those little cell phone scrambler things. You can overhear cell phone conversations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the heck? Is that why you didn`t want to call me?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that why you didn`t want to call me?





RAGUSA: Yes. Yes. It`s not joke, I`m telling you, either end. It wouldn`t be from me because I don`t want to wear an orange jumpsuit and it wouldn`t be from you because you couldn`t leave your house without someone trying to shove a camera in your face, wanting you to talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. That would suck, man.

RAGUSA: I don`t agree with, like -- I don`t know, society`s and people`s judgment about this.


RAGUSA: But it wouldn`t matter if I agree with it or not.


LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama, in for Nancy Grace. You know, I want to go to Maribel Deleon. You`re the mother of a student from Ragusa`s school. Are you comfortable telling us whether your child is a son or a daughter?

DELEON: It`s a daughter.

LALAMA: OK. And you know, here`s what I want to ask you. I heard one of the young people at least in a note say some knucklehead basically ratted her out. And I wondered if the kids at the school see this as, Oh, they told on our teacher, and we don`t think what she was doing was wrong? Does your daughter feel that way?

DELEON: Well, at first, when everything was coming out on the news the first time, she did -- you know, she defended her.

LALAMA: Really?

DELEON: She said, Mom, she`s just a cool teacher, Mom. I don`t believe, you know, that this is what`s going on. She goes, you know, there`s been rumors and talk the whole year, but you know, she`s not like that.

I had to actually sit down with my daughter and explain to her, you know, what`s wrong and what`s right and how far should a teacher go, and you know, what`s appropriate and not. But now, with all the allegations and everything, my daughter says they`re still talking about it in school, the kids are.

LALAMA: Well, Stacy Kaiser, psychotherapist, I mean, that`s a little bit different. Defending her and not wanting to believe she did it is one thing. That`s kind of a natural reaction. I`m wondering if you think young kids today actually approve of it. I mean, there`s so much sexualization of young people, particularly girls, I mean, maybe they think, Oh, that`s what you`re supposed to do, it`s all right.

KAISER: I don`t think that kids as a whole today approve of that. What I think has happened is this woman was a very clever perpetrator. And clever perpetrators lure in their prey by connecting with them, and she connected with all of these kids.

LALAMA: And Owen Lafave, she once -- or she told one of her victims, you know, I can see that you`re shy and I can help you out of that. It`s sort of what they call grooming in the pedophile industry, isn`t it?

LAFAVE: Yes, absolutely, it is. And to -- you know, the point just a moment ago, they do lure in. They do create a friendship, a bond with them before they, you know, act out in an inappropriate manner.

LALAMA: And did your former wife also befriend the kids in the school, try to be one of them?

LAFAVE: Absolutely, she did. And she also was, you know, seen as one of the cool teachers and went to their sporting events and after-school events.

LALAMA: Wow. It`s a good lesson to learn.

Tonight: Guess who`s on the cover, on the new cover and inside the pages of "Good Housekeeping"? It`s our own Nancy and the twins. Be sure to check out Nancy, little Lucy and baby John David. And for an exclusive preview, go to



RAGUSA: The age is illegal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal for what?

RAGUSA: It would be all over- what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal for what? What did you say?

RAGUSA: It`s illegal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be all over the news and everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. Like that one Debra Lafave thing?



LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama, in for Nancy Grace. I want to get the lawyers in here by discussing the evidence, what kind of a case there is. Let me go through it with you. We do have, apparently, a friend of one of the alleged victims took a picture of the two kissing after they had had sex. Let`s start with Peter. Peter, you know, that`s not real strong. That doesn`t mean they had sex, right?

SCHAFFER: Exactly. And in fact, this is one of the more recent incidents that shows that these young people are little more -- have a little more on the ball than everybody wants to give them. You`re calling them kids and prey and victims of pedophilia, but they`re perfectly capable of setting this woman up. The one person on the phone with her on that consensual call is acting as good as any undercover FBI agent in trying to elicit her...

LALAMA: Yes...

SCHAFFER: ... to say criminal information.

LALAMA: True, Peter, but that doesn`t mean it didn`t happen because that phone call, I think, is pretty strong. But what I will say is that there was -- there are no semen -- they did a test on the back seat of her car and didn`t find any semen, didn`t find any fingerprints. Huge, you know, what kind of a case is this?

RODRIGUEZ: There`s no physical evidence. The viewers should know that no semen in her car, where two of the victims said that they had oral sex. They did not use condoms, so there was ejaculation. They have one strong piece, but again, it could be discussed (ph) out, is that she has two tattoos below her waist and both of the boys described those tattoos. But it could have been shown to them or told to them. That`s a strong part of the defense.



RAGUSA: The age is illegal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal for what?

RAGUSA: It would be all over what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal for what? What did you say?

RAGUSA: It`s illegal. It would be all over the news and everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, like that one Debra Lafave thing?

RAGUSA: Yes. It`s no joke, I`m telling you, either end. It wouldn`t be from me because I don`t want to wear an orange jumpsuit and it wouldn`t be from you because you couldn`t leave your house without someone trying to shove a camera in your face wanting you to talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god. That would be suck, man.

RAGUSA: I don`t agree with like -- I don`t know, society`s and people`s judgment about this. But it would matter if I agree with it or not.


LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama in for Nancy Grace. I`ll play a little game with you. I`m going to read this, you tell me whether it is the suspect or the victim. "Yes, like I have a fever of 101. I mean, I feel, like, kind of OK, but I keep throwing up, you know? Like, well, you know, I can`t answer the phone."

You know, Owen Lafave, one of the things I`m finding in studying this woman is the -- as I mentioned before, what is -- it`s like "Arrested Development," that the perpetrator seems like she so much wants to sound like the children that she is allegedly victimizing. And did you see that with your wife?

OWEN LAFAVE, DEB LAFAVE`S EX-HUSBAND, FEATURED SUBJECT OF DOCUMENT FILM, "AFTER SCHOOL": I did. And of course, I mean, her phone calls I think are notorious and some of the things she said clearly sounded like a high schooler. And that`s -- you know, again that goes back to what she said, it was part of the grooming process and enables them to kind of get on the same level and build a rapport and relationship.

LALAMA: Well, here`s another issue. She allegedly provided alcohol, rented cars and gave gifts. One of the alleged victims she gave him her last will and testament.

Stacy Kaiser, psychotherapist, what the heck? What is that?

STACY KAISER, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: What the heck? You know, a teacher that`s trying to bond with a student might show them their iPod, not their private parts. And that`s what`s concerning me here. This girl -- this woman took it too far. She did too many things that were inappropriate and crossing a line for a 29-year-old woman.

LALAMA: You know, apparently on one of the occasions it was reported that she appeared drunk when she showed up to be with one of the young boys.

Hugo Rodriguez, could you see a potential argument that my client has a drug and alcohol problem? Do you see that coming? Come on.

HUGO RODRIGUEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, FMR. FBI AGENT: I don`t know if I see that coming so much, but I do see some other psychological issues. One thing we haven`t discussed is we don`t know her background, we don`t know what has happened in her life to put her in this position where she makes this sort of decisions. And I would like to know a whole lot more about that. And I think that would go to mitigation. If not, if not exculpating her, it would definitely go to mitigation.

LALAMA: Well, that -- you know, that`s a good point, Peter Schaffer. I mean I don`t know a lot about her background, but I do know she made a reference to having a, quote, "handicapped brother" and she was concerned for her brother because if she went to jail and something happened to her father, who would take care of the brother. So it sounds like the mother is not in the picture. There`s a whole lot of chaos here, but does that really excuse the behavior?

PETER SCHAFFER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It doesn`t, but I agree that -- with there is more to her than meets the eye as far as perhaps mental health issues. You know, when you talked about her smiling and all her pictures when she is having her mug shot taken, I think that can be evidence that there is something wrong with her that`s -- you know, there is a disconnection here. And who knows whether that`s going to be relevant to a defense, but it`s certainly relevant in mitigation.

LALAMA: Don Schweitzer is a former detective. Do you find that there is a common theme amongst these kinds of cases where there is substance abuse involved?

DONALD SCHWEITZER, FMR. DETECTIVE, SANTA ANA PD: Not necessarily. I think that sexual addiction is probably the more common theme.

LALAMA: There you go. Yes.

SCHWEITZER: And I take difference with your other guests who are stating that the psychological problems may be a factor in mitigation. If this was a man, you would never look at factors of mitigation because that person may have some, you know, bad background or something.

Bad people smile all the time when they`re being booked. Bad people flaunt their stuff in front of cameras. It`s just because she`s young, attractive, cute that we`re kind of making excuses for her. We really shouldn`t because she`s been victimizing kids that are going to be, you know, emotionally scarred for a long time.

LALAMA: Peter Schaffer, are we making excuses for her?

SCHAFFER: No, and how does this detective know she`s going to be emotionally scarred for life? With all due respect, I deal with...

LALAMA: Well, what about -- wait, wait, what are about her victims? What about her victim? Maybe -- I mean, do you subscribe to that theory that if they`re boys, they can`t possibly be emotionally traumatized by this?

SCHAFFER: I don`t, but for what I have seen of how they`re acting with the incident where they`re filming her, the incident -- I hear this guy on the consensual phone call, he doesn`t seem too hurt. He keeps trying to get out of her...

LALAMA: He`s doing what the cops have asked him to do.

SCHAFFER: Yes, but not everybody is that good at doing that.

LALAMA: But wait a minute. Wait a minute. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. You know, Hugo, let me go to you. You know, the trauma doesn`t begin right then and there. The trauma is down the road overtime with life experience, with wives and boyfriends and girlfriends and children. Isn`t that where the trauma comes after something like this?

RODRIGUEZ: I am very sensitive to that issue and I agree with you, but we`re talking -- I was addressing what may have occurred in her life that would caused her possibly, possibly, to act out this way. And I also agree that it can be traumatizing to anyone who`s 15 years old, male or female.

But society has a tendency to look at this a little bit differently than if it were a male teacher on a female student. And I think that`s an issue that will be addressed in the courts.

LALAMA: Well, I`m so glad you brought that up because this has just been, I`m telling again, the thorn in my side, listening to a popular duo on A.M. radio in Los Angeles not long ago. They were talking about a woman who is having sex with her son`s friends. And they were commenting that she was hideous to look at, they didn`t have teeth, and oh my god, these poor kids will be traumatized for life, that`s child abuse.

Then when they got on the subject of Debra Lafave, that`s not child abuse. That`s hot. Who wants to respond to that kind of double standard?

Owen Lafave, as the husband of someone who did this kind of thing, is there that double -- your wife`s own attorney said she`s too pretty to go to jail.

LAFAVE: Yes, it`s absolutely outrageous and we`re dealing with two double standards here. Number one, because she`s female, everybody doesn`t think these boys are victims and in fact, they are and there`s psychological evidence to support that. And number two, you know, the fact that these teachers are attractive doesn`t make it any less of a serious situation and it`s something that society, I think, really needs to look in the mirror and address.

LALAMA: Yes. It`s really quite disgusting.

Stacy in Michigan, before I blow my top, give me a question.

STACY, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: Yes, I agree. I`d like to know if convicted, what type -- what kind of time does she face?

LALAMA: Well, that.

STACY: She does need to go to jail.

LALAMA: Yes. Kathy Suzewits, let`s address that again. She`s got five counts. They`re serious counts. Tell us the maximum she could face.

KATHY SUZEWITZ, NEWS DIRECTOR, METRO NETWORKS: I`m not sure of that right now. Of course, photos haven`t even come out of that. The judge is going to wait another 60 days until we see photos and evidence of maybe her kissing. As far as a maximum a fine, we don`t know yet.

LALAMA: Stephen Hegarty, had -- did you notice any or -- maybe you can`t speak to this, I`ll ask anyway -- did you have any clue that she might have a drinking problem or any other issue aside from the sexual addiction -- alleged sexual addiction?

STEPHEN HEGARTY, PIO, HILLSBOROUGH SCHOOL DISTRICT: No, no. I`m not aware that there was any evidence of anything like that, no.

LALAMA: OK. So she never came to school drunk, anything like that?

HEGARTY: No, ma`am.

LALAMA: OK. Fifteen years per count, I`m being told here by my good friend Clark.

Thank you, Clark, for that. Fifteen years per count, but again, you know, this is the first offense.

Maribel Deleon, as the mother of a student in the school, you know, what`s the feeling amongst -- among other parents? Have you talked to other parents?

MARIBEL DELEON, MOTHER OF STUDENT AT TEACHERS SCHOOL, HOSTED PARTY THAT TEACHER GATE-CRASHED: Well, those parents that were actually at the party, they discussed it this whole time. They just said that she came in an inappropriate dress, came with alcohol, they didn`t understand how she didn`t converse with none of us adults and she was always with the kids, talking to them.

And since this has blown up, all of us parents have been getting with our kids and explaining to them what`s right and wrong, and now they are actually looking at it like they`re mad because they feel like they were betrayed by her.

LALAMA: You know, Stacy Kasier, what really shocks me is that she was allegedly having sex with one of these boys in the car on the street waiting for his parents to come pick him up. What a risk taker. What is that about?

KAISER: I mean this is a woman that has no shame. And we could be looking even at some sociopathic behavior, you know, she seems to have no remorse. She seems to have no concern for what`s going on in these children`s lives or the family`s lives even now that she`s been arrested.

LALAMA: But very quickly, is that part of the equation? They like the risk of it all? You know, woo, this is nasty kind of thing?

KAISER: Absolutely. There is an absolute thrill of the chase and the pursuit and also there is a lot of power and control for her.


KAISER: .in that she gets to dominate over these younger boys and manipulate them.

LALAMA: Absolutely. Doesn`t matter the gender.

And now a salute to our troops.


SPECIALIST REBECCA VONDRA: I just wanted to salute my boyfriend, Sergeant First Class Scott Zimmerman. Scott has proudly served his country for 20 years in the U.S. Army and is getting ready to retire in about a year, and I just wanted to tell him, sweetie, I`m proud of your service in this country that I know you love so much and I love you, and thank you for everything that you and all of our troops have done or are doing for our country.





UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Shocking. Appalling. Horrific. Those words don`t begin to describe the outrage many have expressed over the multiple arrests of teacher Stephanie Ragusa. Ragusa allegedly having sex with at least two underage boys countless times. On one occasion, after breaking her foot, the middle school teacher was in a wheelchair and told the student assigned pushing her she could help him overcome his shyness.

That afternoon, police say she brought the boy to her apartment and had sex with him. Ragusa also allegedly having sex in the back of her Lexus.


LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama in for Nancy Grace.

I`ve got a question. Is it that more women are now engaged in these kinds of acts or have they always been doing it and we`re just now paying attention to it.

Stacy Kaiser, what do you think?

KAISER: I think with the Internet and all of the media explosion that we`ve had, we are finally able to catch the people that have been doing it all along.

LALAMA: And so -- well, let`s go down the list here. I`ve got the list of alleged bad women having sex with young people. Not all have been convicted.

Beth Geisel, Mary Kay Letourneau, whom I believe -- is she the one married and with the children? Yes. Pam -- married to the person she alleged perpetrated herself on. Mary Kay Letourneau, Pam Smart, Pam Rogers, Carrie McCandless and, of course, Deb Lafave.

Owen Lafave, you know, what do you think? Do you think this has been going on for as long as we know and it`s just now making news or is this a new phenomenon regarding women?

LAFAVE: Yes, will tell you I think it is happening with increased frequency. That said, I think this is something that has always gone on. I think what`s -- different now is by bringing attention to it, a lot of these boys are willing to come forward because they do believe it`s wrong and these teachers are starting to be caught.

LALAMA: I have been neglecting our callers. Kathy in Rhode Island, how are you doing and what`s your question?

KATHY, RHODE ISLAND RESIDENT: Thank you. My question is when these teachers are hired, are they required to have a background check done?

LALAMA: Well, that`s the million-dollar question.

Stephen Hegarty, I know you`re taking a lot of hits from us tonight, from the Hillsborough school district, because as a matter of fact your district alone has had, what, six different cases since 2004. What`s in the water down there, is my question.


LALAMA: And why are there so many questions and what kind of check do you do?

HAGERTY: OK. We do fingerprinting before anybody gets hired. That goes to the state and they check the -- for any kind of criminal background. But I have to remind everybody that when you do a check like that, that tells you if there`s something in their past. It doesn`t tell you what they might do in their future. We.

LALAMA: Wait, wait. What do you mean by that? That you can`t.


LALAMA: .convict them based on past behavior?

HAGERTY: No. When you do a fingerprint check on someone.

LALAMA: Right.

HAGERTY: .that tells you if they have anything criminal in their past.

LALAMA: Right. OK.

HAGERTY: Now if they then violate the law in the future and people ask, well, why didn`t you know anything about this? Well, the fingerprints don`t tell you that somebody might do something in the future. We do fingerprint checks just as all the Florida school districts do. Nothing came back that would prevent us from hiring her. But we are -- you know the school board met after this latest case to discuss if there`s anything we need to do that`s more.

And we are going to change our training. It almost seems embarrassing to think that you might have to sit down and tell teachers not to do this sort of thing, but we are going to be much more specific in our training in the future.

LALAMA: Maribel Deleon, as a mother and involved in this school district, are you concerned?

DELEON: Well, yes, I am. And -- like I told my daughter, I think that now when she comes home and tells me about a teacher being so cool and doing this and that, I`m going to actually look into it because.

LALAMA: Ah, very good point. Stacy.

DELEON: Yes, because I think that they.

LALAMA: Go ahead. Go ahead.

DELEON: I really think that all the parents should -- actually pay more attention now because the students do come home and they do tell us how cool the teacher is, I mean what they`ve done in class and what they`re going to do in bringing, you know, gifts to them. And I think that before we just took it for granted because we believed that the teachers are teachers. They are there to teach our kids.

LALAMA: Well, Stacy Kaiser, you know, I remember being in school 100,000 years ago and there were certain cool teachers who never laid a hand on me. They were just great, cool teachers who seem to relate to whatever my personal issues at the time in school and out of school. And I loved them for that and you know, give them a lot of credit. How does a kid know?

KAISER: I think it becomes -- I think it starts to cross the line when the teacher is using profanity and showing up at parties with alcohol and at those parties and spending all their time with the kids and not the parents. You know, she was talking earlier about sort of feeling that gut instinct that something wasn`t right. If you feel something inside of your gut, it probably is right. And you need to investigate it.

LALAMA: And I just got to say, if it`s your son who`s been allegedly victimized or victimized, don`t ignore it, a get him help because he will be traumatized.

OK, tonight "CNN HEROES."


UNIDENTIFIED KATRINA VICTIM: Katrina destroyed families and homes who with normal red blooded American family and one day it took to wipe us out. I was so beaten down. I was going to blow myself away.

LIZ MCCARTNEY, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: When Katrina hit, I was living in Washington, D.C. I couldn`t believe the pictures that I was looking at. I wanted to come down to New Orleans and volunteer. I naively thought that six months later you`d see all kinds of progress, but Saint Bernard Parish looks like the storm had just rolled through. We realized very quickly that we were going to move to New Orleans. It was just something that we felt like we had to do.

I`m Liz McCartney and I`m helping families rebuild in Saint Bernard Parish. A hundred percent of all homes in Saint Bernard Parish was deemed uninhabitable after the storm. The red X on the house means that it`s going to be demolished. The problems in this community are widespread, but the solutions are really simple.

The Saint Bernard Project can take a house that was gutted down to the stubs, hang the sheet rock, put in new floors. We do all of that work in about 12 weeks for about $12,000.

UNIDENTIFIED KATRINA VICTIM: These volunteers have come and spent the week at my house, working hard for nothing. The Saint Bernard Project lives in her group. They and saved my life.

MCCARTNEY: Once you get one family back, other families are more confident and they`re willing to come back as well.

UNIDENTIFIED KATRINA VICTIM: Little by little, one house at a time, we`ll be back. I feel it. I know it.


ANNOUNCER: "CNN HEROES" is sponsored by.

Nominate someone you know at for the chance to see them on and as a CNN hero.


LALAMA: And now a look back on the stories making the rest of the headlines this week.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Private "Bishop`s Records" released, documents revealing the ages of the women and children on the compound show that young wives ages 16 and 17 are married to much older men, some in their 40 says and even their 60s.

GRACE: Susan, what do you make of the just-released "Bishop`s Paper"? I predict it will be state exhibit number two.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Going through this, I found not only the one guy, and boy, did he live the life, Nancy, the 67-year-old guy who had 21 wives, one who was 43 years younger than he is and some 36 children.

GRACE: The placenta and the umbilical cord still attached, the baby literally buried, buried, not just thrown in, but buried in a public trash dumpster.

With us tonight the man who discovered and saved the life of this infant child, this baby boy, Wesley Falker.

Mr. Falker, tell me what happened when you first saw the baby?

WESLEY FALKER, FOUND BABY IN DUMPSTER: Once we saw the baby, we uncovered maybe a foot of debris off of it.

GRACE: While mommy`s out partying hardy at a local club, her 6-year-old dies when the home turns into an inferno.

To Eric Jens with WLBB Newstalk 1330, tell me what happened.

ERIC JENS, NEWS DIRECTOR, WLBB NEWSTALK 1330: What we have here is a 24- year-old single mother who, according to her statements to police, doesn`t feel she did anything wrong in this case.

GRACE: Right before Mother`s Day, we find out about a plot uncovered a couple of months ago. She allegedly hired a hit-man to kill her own mother. Her request, don`t shoot her in the face. OK. That`s a heck of a Mother`s Day gift.


LALAMA: Tonight, let`s stop to remember Army Sergeant Christopher Sanders, 22, from Roswell, New Mexico, killed in Iraq on his second tour of duty. Left his studies at Eastern New Mexico University to enlist. He loves military history, he leaves behind his mom, Marie, grieving widow, Dora, son Christopher and daughter Jacquelyn.

Christopher Sanders, an American hero.

Thank you to all our guests and to you at home for being with us. See you tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. sharp Eastern. Until then, have a wonderful evening and might I just say happy Mother`s Day to all the moms and a double happy Mother`s Day to Nancy.

God bless you, girl. See you all later.