Her husband was drugging her so that he could sneak off to have sex with one of her middle school students, but Jenny Magro still stood up for her husband in court, begging the judge to be lenient.
"[He is] a small, white man who might not be able to defend himself against other prisoners," Magro, 50, of Cincinnati, said Thursday of her husband, Salvatore Magro, 51, according to ABC News' Cincinnati affiliate, WCPO.
A former religion and social studies teacher at Our Lady of Victory in Cincinnati, Salvatore Magro subsequently was sentenced to four years in prison, a fraction of the 15-year maximum penalty for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
It may sound unbelievable that Magro would stick up for her cheating, child molesting husband, but her behavior is not unheard of, psychologists say, and is the hallmark of a spouse in denial.
"She still has a fantasy that things could be saved," said Marion Frank, a Philadelphia-based psychologist. "Perhaps she's terrified to be alone ... but she is in denial."
Misguided Compassion, Pathological Loyalty
In June, Magro admitted to having a long-term sexual relationship with the 15-year-old girl, a student at Rapid Run Middle School in Cincinnati, where his wife taught.
During Thursday's sentencing, he further admitted to drugging his wife in order to visit the girl and that he and the girl had exchanged wedding vows. Magro also said that he no longer loved his wife.
Magro blamed her husband's crimes on a stroke he suffered in 2009, saying that it altered his judgment.
Magro's case may be an extreme example of misguided loyalty, psychologists said, one in which the wronged spouse is completely out of touch with her own needs, the needs of others, and the reality of the situation.
"This is clearly a man who says he doesn't want to be with her and is obviously ready to harm her, and her response is that she is more concerned about his safety than that of the girl -- who she introduced to her husband," said Gail Wyatt, a clinical psychologist and director of the UCLA Sexual Health Program.
Both Wyatt and Frank felt that Magro likely has suffered past trauma and rejection in her relationships to lead her to behave in such a self-destructive manner and felt she should seek psychiatric help.
"This is a story of two misguided individuals -- the perpetrator and his wife," Wyatt said.
The saddest part, Wyatt added, is that the victim will never get the acknowledgment she deserves from Magro.
"The girl needs to hear from Magro that what her husband did was wrong," Wyatt said. "Teenagers will often blame themselves when they become the object of sexual interest for an older man. She deserves confirmation from the woman that introduced her to [Salvatore Magro] that this shouldn't have happened to her."
The girl expressed her feelings in a letter that her lawyer read to the court at the sentencing.
"It made so much sense at the time but now it makes no sense," she wrote, according to reporting from Cincinnati.com. "I feel kind of used and dirty."
Would you defend your husband/wife if he/she did this?