NEW YORK -- A substitute teachertold television personality “Dr. Phil” McGraw she is the victim in the case and the 17-year-old boy initiated the sexual encounters.
“He twisted my brain into accepting this relationship,” Mary Beth Haglin said in a promotional online video. “He did so with such intelligence and such an elevated vocabulary I was completely duped by the whole façade.”
Twenty-four-year-old Haglin has pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual exploitation by a school employee. Authorities say she had a sexual relationship with the boy who attended Washington High School, south of Cedar Rapids, starting in October 2015. Haglin told McGraw Monday on the show that the boy first contacted her via Facebook in September 2015, when she was 23. She said she initially didn’t respond to him, but eventually did because she had been fighting with her boyfriend.
“From a legal standpoint, I was the teacher and he was the student, and so I was the one who did get in trouble for that, yes,” Haglin said. “But from a psychological standpoint, it’s so different because he knew that I was vulnerable and he caught me in my weakest moments and he used that to his advantage.”
Haglin told McGraw that the relationship eventually turned physical, but said the boy was always the one who initiated the sex. She said the boy would often wrote her love notes, including one that read, “I love the way you smell like pizza, it drives me crazy wanting a piece of the crust.” She admitted to having sex with him almost daily and said the boy convinced her to send him nude photos.
She said she didn’t expect him to share the images with his friends, but the boy did and eventually others at the school found out about the relationship.
“In my mind during this whole thing, his age was erased in my mind,” Haglin told McGraw. “’Looking back now I think, ‘Oh my God, what was I thinking, what was I doing?’”
Haglin has said she regrets what took place, but also placed blame on the school district in a July interview with CBS affiliate KGAN.
The district says that after its investigation it notified the substitute placement system on May 18, 2016 that Haglin should be removed from the system, barring her from teaching at district schools. She was reportedly then released from Washington High School. But Haglin was re-assigned and worked for a short time as an elementary substitute at the end of the 2015-2016 school year, after the district began investigating her.
Haglin told KGAN the re-assignment was intentional in an attempt to cover up the relationship, but the district maintains that a miscommunication with its substitute placement provider is to blame.
Haglin said in a Dr. Phil promotional video that she now works as a stripper.
Online court records show that Mary Haglin is seeking a change of venue because of pretrial publicity. It’s unclear when the court will rule on Haglin’s request.
Haglin’s trial is set to begin Nov. 14.