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CLINTON, South Carolina (AP) -- The arrest of two women teachers on charges of having sex with their male students has brought cries of lingering racism in one of South Carolina's most conservative counties and evoked some of the South's oldest and deepest-seated racial taboos.

Both women are white. The boys -- six in all -- are black.

Some of the blacks who make up more than a quarter of Laurens County's 70,000 residents are upset over the handling of the two cases, particularly the release of the teachers on bail.

They say the cases reflect the way crimes by whites against blacks in the segregated South were treated less seriously than other offenses, and blacks who leveled accusations against whites were less likely to be believed.

"If this had been black teachers, they would not be out of jail right now," said Corinnie Young, a 49-year-old bookstore employee who is black.

Some blacks shudder to think what would have happened if the teachers were black men and the students were white girls.



"I can assure you if it were an African American male who committed such an offense against a white female, history shows us that the charges, the punishment and the sentencing would be totally different," said state NAACP president Lonnie Randolph. "The system ain't blind when the perpetrator is an African American male or female or when the victim is a white female."
Prosecutor defends home detention

Jerry Peace, the county prosecutor and a white man, said that the teachers are wearing electronic tracking devices and that their release on bail -- $125,000 for one, $110,000 for the other -- was based not on race, but on the danger to the community and the likelihood that the defendants might flee.

In any case, it would be unusual for someone accused of such a crime to be held without bail. Deborah Ahrens, a visiting professor of criminal law at the University of South Carolina, said of the bail amounts for the two teachers: "For the clients that I've represented in the past that were up for similar offenses, that sounds about right."

Signs of racial tension, old and new, are not hard to find in Laurens County. The school where one of the teachers worked used to be blacks-only.

In the town of Laurens, where one of the teachers taught, an old movie theater has been converted into a Ku Klux Klan museum and paraphernalia store called The Redneck Shop. There, visitors can buy Confederate flags and bumper stickers, such as one that depicts three Klansmen and reads "The Original Boys in the Hood."

Textile mills were once the chief source of jobs in the working-class area about 60 miles northwest of the state capital of Columbia, but the industry went into decline in the 1990s. The main employers now include a maker of plastic coolers and Presbyterian College in Clinton. As of 2003, nearly 15 percent of county residents lived below the poverty line.
Mom complains of sex with 11-year-old

And as in many communities, most neighborhoods in the county are either black or white. People of different races find themselves side by side in one of two places: work or school.

Wendie Schweikert, a 37-year-old married woman who had been teaching elementary school in Laurens for more than a decade, was arrested last year after the mother of an 11-year-old boy accused her of having sex with the boy at school at least twice.

Authorities said they found evidence bearing his DNA in her classroom. She is also accused of having sex with him in her car near a miniature golf course and arcade in Greenville, about 40 miles away.

Allenna Ward, a 24-year-old minister's daughter in her second year of teaching, was fired February 28 after she was charged with having sex with at least five boys.

Some of the alleged victims, 14 and 15 years old, were students at the middle school in Clinton where Ward taught. Police say Ward, who is married, had sex with the boys at the school, at a motel, in a park and behind a restaurant.

Attempts to contact the women in person and by telephone were unsuccessful, and their lawyers did not return repeated calls.

Black and white residents alike said they are shocked by the accusations. Many echoed the sentiments of Peggy Hawkins, a 50-year-old white resident. "Boys are boys and she done wrong," Hawkins said of one of the teachers.
Some see racism at work

The Rev. David Kennedy, a local black activist, is among those who see racism at work. He said the white teachers accused of preying on black students figured "they can do what they want to do with them and they know the consequences won't be great."

He suggested that blacks in town are too afraid to speak out: "There's a long history of intimidation and it's a sin. It's unholy in Laurens County to speak out."

Parents whose children go to E.B Morse Elementary School, where Schweikert taught, say they have trouble reconciling the accusations with the woman they knew.

"She was very involved," said Shea Mills, whose son attended the school. "I remember she would make kids pick paper up in the halls."

Bell Street Middle School Principal Maureen Tiller said Ward did well during an evaluation of her skills, and "personality-wise she seemed to be fine."

Nicole Sullivan, whose daughter went to Schweikert's school, said that when the case broke, students brought home notes saying the teacher had resigned. The notes did not explain why.

"I don't want to say it was a racial thing, but if it were a white victim and a black teacher, I think things would have been handled differently," said Sullivan, who is black.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Comments

( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
___flight_risk
Mar. 29th, 2007 09:51 pm (UTC)
I guess young black men are just as seductive and fast as young black females.
denim_queen
Mar. 29th, 2007 10:06 pm (UTC)
Yep. It's not like they're young and impressionable and can be taken advantage of. They're dirty dirty hoors. Why can't they keep their pelvic areas from constantly thrusting all over the place? /sarcasm
mulder200
Mar. 29th, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC)
Why is it female sex offenders get punished less severly than men do?

Apparently, those white women must really like them such black dick! Damn!




lilyjaderose
Mar. 30th, 2007 07:25 am (UTC)
because women are always viewed as less threatening than men...like say if a woman is physically abusing a man...it's like, well oh who cares, it's just a woman
mizcrank
Mar. 29th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
for some reason, i just flashed back to that Mandingo post from the other day.
butterflyrei
Mar. 29th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
LOL..I did too!!! I was thinking "they are recruiting Mandingos early now.." but did nto want to say it.
littledrummrboy
Mar. 29th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
Also guilty.
sarafinapekkala
Mar. 29th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
Who on earth paid that bail?
loomissimmons
Mar. 29th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
*thanks God the men weren't black and the girls weren't white*
(Deleted comment)
misslaura
Mar. 30th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
Exactly what I was thinking
kyooverse
Mar. 30th, 2007 07:35 pm (UTC)
and Amen.
littledrummrboy
Mar. 29th, 2007 10:10 pm (UTC)
In the town of Laurens, where one of the teachers taught, an old movie theater has been converted into a Ku Klux Klan museum and paraphernalia store called The Redneck Shop. There, visitors can buy Confederate flags and bumper stickers, such as one that depicts three Klansmen and reads "The Original Boys in the Hood."

wait... dafuck?!
witchsistah
Mar. 29th, 2007 10:20 pm (UTC)
That says it all right there.
karnythia
Mar. 29th, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC)
See, ya'll talk about me being crazy, but I'd put these hoes through a meat grinder and serve them burgers made of their own flesh. I figure with a the right tools I could make their death last long enough for Hell to seem like a blessing when they got there.
kyooverse
Mar. 30th, 2007 07:36 pm (UTC)
LOL You getting all Shakespearian in this piece!
obsidianeyes
Mar. 30th, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC)
FOR REAL TITUS ANDRONICUS!
obsidianeyes
Mar. 30th, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC)
and I dub thee Titus Karnythius
kyooverse
Mar. 30th, 2007 09:49 pm (UTC)
LOLOOLOLOLOL
senecasaurus
Mar. 29th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
if i hear 's/he just didn't seem like the type' one more time....
(Deleted comment)
senecasaurus
Mar. 29th, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
and watching a few episodes of Cold Case Files on a Sunday afternoon will tell you that even when the person is obviously paying WAY TOO MUCH attention to children no one voices any concern. as long as they are middle-class and white other white folk will give them pretty much unfettered access to their kids.
cindel
Mar. 29th, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC)
Are they saying it's ok for a grown woman to have sex with underage children or just black children? <_<
deedee_dancer
Mar. 29th, 2007 11:26 pm (UTC)
Lil bit of Column A, Lil bit of Column B.
witchsistah
Mar. 29th, 2007 11:12 pm (UTC)
The thing is, if the teachers had been Black, NOTHING might have happened to them at all. It would have been seen as just some "nigger shit" going on.
recumbentgoat
Mar. 29th, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC)
wtf? Now there's a convergence of white pathological identity: Mighty Snowbunny. smh

Put these predators in jail where they belong.
deedee_dancer
Mar. 29th, 2007 11:25 pm (UTC)
They musta been teachin Concubinin 201.
tgarnett
Mar. 30th, 2007 01:29 am (UTC)
OMG! *dead*
1999
Mar. 30th, 2007 02:23 am (UTC)
FER TEH WINNZ
little_yew
Mar. 30th, 2007 04:09 am (UTC)
With Lab, apparently.
witchsistah
Mar. 30th, 2007 12:47 pm (UTC)
She said they got a lab in concubinin'
*ded
sofvckinghot
Apr. 3rd, 2007 04:32 pm (UTC)
DEDEDEDEDED
Hell to the na-na-naw.

YOU SO WRONG!!
lilyjaderose
Mar. 30th, 2007 07:23 am (UTC)
why must my beloved state ALWAYS be at the center of this kind of attention?
richirch2
Mar. 30th, 2007 05:02 pm (UTC)
Need we really answer that? :-\
angelofsaturn
Apr. 8th, 2007 10:11 am (UTC)
I'm about to start clamin North Carolina as my home.
*shakes head*

Shit I'm close enough to Charlotte.
skywardprodigal
Mar. 30th, 2007 06:54 pm (UTC)
Black children.

*sigh*

Can't black children be protected from the ugliness of adults?
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )

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