Alicia Guasteferro, a teen beauty queen from Upstate New York who appeared on ABC’s “Wife Swap,” is suing ABC and a company affiliated with the production of the show, claiming fallout from the episode ruined her life.
Guasteferro claims that the episode in which she appeared when she was fifteen so drastically affected her public treatment that she went from being an “honor student” to finishing out high school in a “special program.” (The teen’s claims about her previous academic prowess seem to run contrary to footage from the show where her mother did all of her homework for her.) Guasteferro’s parents said on the show that their daughter’s looks superseded her need to complete her own schoolwork and that they feared upsetting her:
“We want Alicia to get good grades but school projects can take too much time, especially with all of her extra-curricular activities,” she said. “To help her out Ralph and I have done all of her school projects for her.”
She added later, “If she has projects that involve design or drawing one of our staff members does them for her because they are great artists. Teachers are always very impressed with her projects and she enjoys taking credit for them. When you look as good as Alicia having brains is just an added bonus.”
The teenager says that her mother was responsible for the way she appeared on the program, and that the elder Guasteferro pocketed the $20,000 compensation afforded for appearing on “Wife Swap,” sharing none of it with her daughter. Alicia Guasteferro claims she now suffers from panic attacks and “other psychological disorders.” She is seeking $100 million in damages, and her lawyers had this to say in court documents filed against ABC and RDF Media:
“For their own profit, defendants purposefully, intentionally and knowingly caused severe emotional and psychological harm to a fragile 15-year-old,” say her lawyers in the lawsuit.
Guasteferro’s parents Karen and Ralph currently face 16 and 57 months in federal prison for fraud charges unrelated to their appearance on “Wife Swap.” Video below shows the start of the episode of “Wife Swap” featuring Alicia Guasteferro.