Alicia Guastaferro made headlines at 16, when she and her parents were featured on the reality show Wife Swap. Now 21, the former beauty pageant princess was recently arrested for criminal impersonation, possession of a controlled substance — and prostitution, which was later dropped — and the media dubbed her the “Wife Swap Hooker.” How does she explain her behavior?

Accused of Being a Prostitute

Alicia Guastaferro and her family were featured on a 2008 episode of ABC’s Wife Swap, and many viewers were shocked to see Alicia getting spray tanned by her dad, her parents appearing to do her homework, and her mom tucking gifts beneath a year-round Christmas tree. Now, five years later, Alicia says she’s not the spoiled brat people saw on TV. She also says that what started out as a fun family adventure, ended up ruining her entire life.

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"After the show aired, the next day, I was the most hated person."

In August 2012, just a few days shy of her 21st birthday, Alicia found herself back in the headlines, when TMZ and other tabloids dubbed her the “Wife Swap Hooker,” after state troopers arrested her at a highway rest stop in a running car, with a man old enough to be her father, James "Jimmy" Doyle.

"When I first met Jimmy, I was 19 years old. He was in his 50s. He made me feel like a little princess," Alicia says. She recalls that two weeks before her 21st birthday, Jimmy wanted to take her out to celebrate. She says she and Jimmy went out to dinner, where she says she had three martinis, and then they went to a bar, where she admits she drank another martini and a shot of whiskey. 

"I take prescription medication. The use of alcohol amplifies the medication extremely," she explains. "After the bar, I said, ‘Jimmy. I’ve got to go home. I am drunk. Let’s go home.’ As we were driving, I was blacked-out drunk. I heard horns. I opened my eyes. I saw two semis coming right at me. I’m thinking, this must be a bad dream. I shut my eyes. I felt a swerve in the road. I opened my eyes. We were at a rest area. I shut my eyes. I was blacked-out drunk again.

"I woke up to state troopers pounding at my door. I look to my left, Jimmy is passed out on the steering wheel. I was in a daze. I’m thinking, this can’t be happening right now," Alicia recalls. "That night, I was charged with being a prostitute, criminal impersonation and having controlled substances. Apparently, state troopers, seeing as I was at a rest area, thought I was a prostitute.

"I was charged with criminal impersonation, due to the fact that I had a fake I.D. I was charged with possession of controlled substances because that night, my mother actually put my prescription medication in a little pink mint container. I was charged for having close to 12 different substances in my purse," Alicia says. "The night I got arrested was a nightmare."

“Straight up: are you a hooker?”

“Why did you tell the police you were getting $500 to $700 to have sex with [Jimmy] a couple of times a month?” Dr. Phil asks Alicia.

“First of all, I was blacked-out drunk. I have no recollection of anything I said that night,” she says. “When I drink, I can be very repetitive, and I can make a fool of myself. I think the only way $500 to $700 a night came up is because at the time, I was an exotic dancer, and I was making up to $500 to $700 a night, and they took that $500 to $700, ‘Oh, a dancer. The age difference, alright, she is a prostitute.’”

Family Troubles

Alicia's mom, Karen, claims that in the past, she paid $15,000 to rig a beauty pageant so Alicia could win, and she admits she's driven her daughter to her job at a gentleman's club, so she could exotic dance to earn money for the family. Karen now says she's desperate to help Alicia get her life back on track.

"My parents are felons. They have a lot of problems with the law," Alicia shares. "In May 2009, my house was bombarded by FBI agents and Homeland Security. They completely raided the house. My dad was charged with money laundering. Before he left for jail, he told me, ‘No matter what it takes, support the family.’"

Alicia says her mom was on house arrest, so she had to step up and provide food for the family and make sure the bills were paid. "I started to be an exotic dancer, because the money was better," Alicia says. "My parents actually drove me there, to make sure I’d be on time for work. My parents supported me 1,000 percent."

Does Karen take any ownership for Alicia's problems?

“A 54-year-old man wants to go out with your 20-year-old daughter, and you think he wants to do that because why?”

"I just want people to give me a second chance. I’m a real person."

“I don’t want you to be victimized; I want you to be victim-wise.”

The Dr. Phil show reached out to James "Jimmy" Doyle for comment but did not receive a response.

Dark Cloud Looming over Her Future?

Alicia says she’s ready to put the negative behind her, but she says her nightmare isn’t over.

"Being on Wife Swap was the worst mistake of my life. I have never been so hurt, so bullied," Alicia says. "I was pushed into lockers, had my books pushed off the desks, called any name you could think of, food thrown at me." She says she even had to pay a guy to be her senior prom date, because she didn't have any friends. "I was bullied to the point where people actually called me fat," she continues. "I felt so humiliated, I actually was anorexic. I went from 135 to 94 pounds in less than four weeks. I was hospitalized for seven days."

Alicia says because of the intense bullying, she developed crippling anxiety and is now on a cocktail of prescription medications to cope with her feelings. On video, she shows off the pill bottles and says, "This one is to keep me stabilized so I don’t panic. This one is to keep me focused from my ADHD. This one is to keep me from having seizures. This is for pain. This is so you’re emotionless. This one keeps me happy, relax my muscles, to have me sleep at night," she reveals. "Every day, it’s just more and more meds, and after a while, they don’t even do anything. It’s sad. Another pill, another day, another problem."

“I don’t think your medications are like a party thing for you. I think you’ve been prescribed medications that have gotten a grip on you,” Dr. Phil says. “When was the last time you had your blood drawn to check levels to determine if these are toxic or appropriate for you?”

“Never did,” Alicia says.

“I want to get you with a
proper, skilled psycho-neurologist who will evaluate you in terms of your hormones, your blood and your brain, to find out what in the world is going on with all of these meds, because I suspect you probably need none of them,” Dr. Phil tells her.

“I would love that,” Alicia says.

“When we take those away, then we need to give you some tools to replace those things, to handle anxiety, to handle some of the panic,” Dr. Phil continues. “I will make those arrangements, starting immediately.”