Ex-teacher's aide sentenced for sex with teens
Share with others:
Her dyed blond hair has been replaced by a natural dark brown. She wore a brown knit sweater and black slacks, far from her attire -- or lack thereof -- in photos circulating the Internet.
Former Highlands Senior High School teacher's aide Abbie Jane Swogger appeared in an Allegheny County courtroom yesterday to plead guilty to drug and sex charges related to her partying with teenagers.
Ms. Swogger was sentenced to three to six years in state prison, to be followed by 36 years of probation.
The prison term came as the result of a plea deal with prosecutors on 10 charges, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a minor; Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski set the lengthy probation.
In addition, Ms. Swogger will have to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law for the rest of her life, effectively preventing her from working with children ever again.
Ms. Swogger, 36, of Harrison, wore a nervous smile as she entered the courtroom and told her mother and grandmother, seated behind her, not to cry. Ms. Swogger's two sons, aged 14 and 17, were not present.
Ms. Swogger's attorney, Michael Waltman, said his client's conduct was the result of a drug problem.
Mr. Waltman said she has come a long way in the past 15 months, since she was arrested after police searching for missing teens came upon a beer- and crack-fueled party at the Clarion Hotel in New Kensington.
Mr. Waltman's client initially denied the charges in news media interviews, but she struck an apologetic tone yesterday.
"I want to say I'm very, very sorry for hurting anybody -- my family, the families of the victims," Ms. Swogger told Judge Sasinoski before he imposed the sentence.
"I'm sorry for not being the role model I should have been."
Ms. Swogger was a special education teacher's aide at Highlands, where she met the teens who would become the victims in the case, prosecutors said. A 17-year-old boy with whom she carried on a sexual relationship was a friend of Ms. Swogger's older son.
According to prosecutors, Ms. Swogger provided several teens with alcohol and drugs. A 15-year-old girl testified at a preliminary hearing that at the Feb. 22, 2008, hotel party Ms. Swogger tried to get some of the teens to get high and have sex with her. A 15-year-old boy testified at the hearing that Ms. Swogger performed a sex act with him.
According to a criminal complaint, Ms. Swogger gave one of the teens $500 before the party to buy crack, which she later planned to sell.
She was initially released on bond, but it was revoked after she contacted one of the victims, allegedly offering her money to beat up another girl who had posted a racy photograph of Ms. Swogger on the Internet. In the photo, Ms. Swogger, a former exotic dancer, is partially nude and surrounded by teenage boys fondling her.
Prosecutors eventually dropped charges related to the alleged threat, but Ms. Swogger has remained incarcerated since then.
Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka invoked that episode yesterday in asking for an extended probation period after Ms. Swogger's prison sentence ends. Judge Sasinoski made sure Ms. Swogger will be under state supervision well into her 70s.
First Published May 27, 2009 12:00 am