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Clark out of prison, wanted divorce

Bride of Gainesville teen can’t return to Hall or Dawson counties

POSTED: March 5, 2008 5:01 a.m.
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Lisa Lynette Clark

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Lisa Clark wanted to divorce the 15-year-old boy she conceived a child with prior to pleading guilty to statutory rape, and claimed from prison that the guardians who took custody of the newborn while she served her sentence were "trying to take my child," according to motions she filed with a Hall County judge.

When Clark, 39, walked out of a women's prison Friday in DeKalb County, she was not entirely free.
Clark is held to a number of restrictions during the remaining three years of her probation. She is not free to live, work or worship in Hall or Dawson counties, where she is banned for the length of her sentence. She is not free to associate with children younger than 18, except her own. She can't have family pictures of anyone younger than 18, except her children.

Clark unsuccessfully petitioned a judge to ease those restrictions, filing two motions from prison while acting as her own lawyer. In a motion filed in Hall County Superior Court in December 2006, Clark wrote that she is "not in the same category as 40-year-old men who rape 6-year-old girls" and shouldn't be bound by the same onerous restrictions.

"I can't even have a birthday party for my youngest son or take him to the park," Clark wrote in a motion she submitted to Judge Bonnie Chessher Oliver. Clark wrote that her banishment from Hall County infringes on her freedom of religion, because she wanted to attend services at Gainesville's Free Chapel Worship Center.

"Also, my children have many friends in Hall County," Clark wrote. "This affects them more than me."
Clark has two sons and a daughter separate from the child she had with her teen husband. Clark's oldest son is older than the father of her most recent child.

In a separate April 2007 motion submitted to Oliver, Clark claimed that her teenage husband physically abused her and she wanted a divorce, but was talked out of it by her lawyer at the time.

"I told him I wanted a divorce, then I (led) investigators to him," Clark wrote about the teen in her motion to modify her sentence, which Oliver denied.

Clark received a two-year prison sentence for hindering the apprehension of a child after authorities determined that she was complicit in her young husband's escape from a youth group home.

Clark claimed that when she told her attorney, Dan Sammons, her desire to get a divorce, "he told me to continue to tell the public I was happily married."

Clark wrote the judge that when she entered her guilty plea, she "was not ready to plea ... too much stress and pressure." She also claimed that she was led to believe by her attorney that pleading guilty as a first offender was "like a first-time buyers program."

Sammons said Friday that he discouraged Clark from taking a negotiated plea, and that he advised her that getting a divorce from the teen was not a good idea while her criminal case was still pending.

Sammons said the fact that the two were married "would have helped her with a jury if we tried her case." Sammons remains convinced that Clark would not have been convicted had the case gone to trial, with either an acquittal or a hung jury the outcome.

"I don't know if she would have been acquitted or not, but I honestly can't see 12 people agreeing to convict her," Sammons said.

Clark decided to take the plea after talking it over with her children, who feared she could get a longer prison term if she was convicted at trial, Sammons said.

Clark also wrote the judge that she wanted to undergo a psychological examination prior to the plea, but her lawyer "refused." An examination could have gone toward pursuing a defense of diminished mental capacity.

Sammons said Friday that he advised Clark "it made no sense to pursue that. They were just a couple in love -- what's crazy about that?"

Clark indicated no dissatisfaction with her lawyer when she entered her plea. A standard question in guilty pleas is "Are you satisfied with your lawyer and the way you were represented in this case?" to which Clark answered "yes." She also indicated she fully discussed the case with her attorney before pleading guilty.

Sammons noted that it is "not uncommon" for convicted inmates to complain about their legal representation.

Clark wrote the judge that the temporary guardian assigned to care for the son she gave birth to in prison "is trying to take my child from me." That child now is 2 years old.

Clark's current attorney, Kimberly Dymecki, said Friday her client has made no decisions on whether she wants to regain custody of the child or reunite with her husband, who is now 17 and living with his mother in Texas. "Lisa needs to get settled, and then other decisions will be made at that point," Dymecki said.

The teen husband's grandmother, Judy Hayles of Gainesville, said an attorney for Clark called her home this week in an attempt to contact the teen. Hayles said she believes her grandson and Clark will end up together again, though she strongly disapproves.

"Lisa Clark is a psycho pedophile," Hayles said. "She is a child molester. She's a pathological liar."

Clark declined to answer reporters' questions outside a Douglas County probation office shortly after her release Friday, except to say that being out of prison felt "indescribable," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.



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