A former teen pageant princess featured in an eyebrow-raising episode of the TV show Wife Swap getting spray-tanned by her father and pitying the less attractive is to plead not guilty this week to charges of prostitution and drug possession, her lawyer said.
Alicia Guastaferro was arrested at a highway shopping facility in western New York in August. State troopers investigating a complaint of erratic driving reported finding her and a Rochester attorney “slumped over” and apparently passed out in a running car.
The 21-year-old Guastaferro told troopers she had met attorney James Doyle while bartending in Niagara Falls two years earlier and that he paid her US$500 to US$700 twice a month to spend the night with him and have sex, according to court documents. The drug charges involve prescription medication in her purse.
Guastaferro, who was also charged with initially lying to troopers about her name and age, was set to plead not guilty in Pembroke Town Court yesterday, said her lawyer, Dan Killelea. He declined to comment further. Killelea said he advised Guastaferro not to talk about her case while it is pending.
Doyle, meanwhile, is due in court next month on charges of drunken driving, patronizing a prostitute and unlawfully dealing with a child for allegedly buying Guastaferro drinks. The 54-year-old has denied the allegations, telling local media in August they were “factually and morally wrong.” He declined to say anything more when reached by telephone on Friday.
Guastaferro’s appearance on a 2008 episode of ABC’s Wife Swap, recorded when she was 15, made her an instant target of ridicule at school and sent her into psychiatric care for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, an eating disorder and panic attacks, Guastaferro said in a US$100 million lawsuit she filed in 2010 against ABC and its parent company, Walt Disney Co.
The episode showed her parents doing Guastaferro’s homework, tucking gifts beneath a year-round Christmas tree and buying her a Chevrolet Tahoe that she was too young to drive.
In her lawsuit, Guastaferro said scenes of her saying things like “I do feel sorry for people that are not gorgeous people” and being spray-tanned by her father were staged and that she was told to “act a little more spoiled.”
The lawsuit was settled last year. The terms were not disclosed, according to Nathan Siegel, who represented the network.
Last year, while Guastaferro was working as a dancer at a strip club, her parents were sentenced in federal court after pleading guilty to criminal charges.
Ralph Guastaferro was sentenced to two years in prison for laundering US$1.2 million for a Canadian telemarketing scheme through two business checking accounts he opened. His wife, Karen, was given three years of probation for paying employees of the couple’s suburban Buffalo glass-tinting business off the books.
Alicia Guastaferro’s letters to the sentencing judge seeking leniency for her parents describe her mental distress and high doses of prescription medicine, which she said her parents monitored.
“I need my parents more than anything right now in my life as they help me survive each and every day,” she wrote in a letter submitted to the court in June last year.