Women Who Stray

Notes on the history and current practice of female infidelity

Insatiable Wife (Teacher) Sent to Jail for Group Sex

How to protect students and teachers from crossing boundaries?

This weekend, Fort Worth, Texas high school teacher Brittni Colleps was sentenced to five years in prison after conviction of having sex with five of her male students. The students were all over the age of eighteen, and consented to the acts. But, Brittni and her husband were swingers, and salacious videos of the sex were made, and viewed by the jury.

Teacher Brittni Colleps, sentenced to jail for five years for group sex with adult students.
Does Brittni deserve jailtime? I admit that I am ethically struggling with this one. This woman is pretty blatantly being persecuted for the crime of liking group sex, and having a nontraditional relationship with her husband that doesn't involve monogamy. She basically got a year in jail for each young man she had sex with. The fact that some of this was group sex seemed to carry dramatic weight in court, and certainly in the media coverage. In my book Insatiable Wives, I offer numerous examples of such women receiving strong punishment by the courts, for the simple crime of liking recreational sex. Marty Klein's wonderful book America's War on Sex includes many more examples of swingers and other folks being punished for their socially frowned-upon sexual proclivities. 

But, Brittni was a teacher, and was by virtue of this, in a position of authority, over those in her care. Eighteen or not, sexually-supercharged adolescents or not, Brittni crossed lines of responsibility that we hold for teachers, police, therapists and doctors, and should have known better.

Is this a reasonable punishment for this crime though? Is this sentence comparable to those received by others? Is Brittni being punished for being a sexual woman, a boundary-crossing teacher, or a swinger? It seems likely that this punishment is excessive, and other cases have warranted lower sentences. However, in parallel cases with male teachers and female students, the cry of sex offender leads the charge to severe punishments, so claiming that Brittni is being punished more severely for being a woman is likely not supportable. .

But here's a fascinating piece of this: Brittni's trial represents one of over twenty five cases of female teachers having sex with male students in the past year alone. Is this an increase from what has happened in the past? Is this increase because of our sexualized culture, and the "cougar epidemic?" Is this increase reflective of decreased social constraints on female sexuality, and the unfortunate consequence of people with more freedom having the freedom to make bad decisions? Or are we just now seeing and prosecuting cases which have been swept under the rug for many years? I think this is very likely—I remember when I was in high school, a female basketball coach was notorious for sex with male basketball players. And nobody complained, or prosecuted. And I also remember, a decade ago as I practiced in Texas, similar cases being dismissed, and the young men painted as heroes for sexual prowess with older women.

We aren't going to prosecute ourselves out of this phenomenon. Fear of prosecution for these acts may stop some female teachers, but not all. We need to examine what is going on here, and begin real education and dialogue with teachers, about this. The teacher-student dynamic is an intimate, engaging relationship that is very likely to create feelings of attraction, on both sides. We have to accept that, and offer teachers education and supervision that can begin to correct this, and catch it earlier. The therapist-patient dynamic is equally intimate, and as result, therapists are counseled and supervised their entire education and career, that while these feelings are understandable, acting on them is not. And, we are encouraged that when such feelings occur, we should refer the payients away, and seek supervision, in order to help maintain the boundaries professionally and well. Can a similar process serve teachers, and protect both students and teachers from these seemingly inevitable boundary-violations?

David J. Ley, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of Insatiable Wives, Women Who Stray and The Men Who Love Them, available from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

more...

Subscribe to Women Who Stray

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?