Man Uses "Cougar Defense" Against Ex-Wife in Court

INSIDE EDITION speaks to a woman who is defending her fitness as a mother, as her ex-husband claims her "cougar" lifestyle is unacceptable.

It used to be taboo—older women going after much younger men.

But now they have a name—cougars—and they aren't exactly shy about their dating habits.

Laura, a 43-year-old mom from New York's Long Island doesn't mind being labeled a cougar. She's even posed for a racy calendar called "The Housewives Next Door." But now, her ex-husband is using her cougar lifestyle against her in court, in what may be the first trial ever to include "The Cougar Defense."

"I'm not gonna hide from people thinking I'm a cougar. You know, go ahead, label me how you want. I know who I am," said Laura.

"This cougar defense is absolutely ridiculous and laughable," added Laura.

Laura was just 24 when she married Williard "Ross" Lanham, a hot shot consultant for the New York City Board of Education. They lived lavishly in a mansion—until federal agents arrived.

"The feds showed up at my door at 6 a.m. I was shocked beyond belief," said Laura.

Lanham ended up being convicted of embezzling $1.7 million from the Board of Education. He was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

"He's the crook. I mean, he's the one who did all this," said Laura.

But now, Lanham is asking the judge to reduce his sentence from 20 years in jail to just 4 years. Why? He's claiming his ex-wife is a cougar.

"He knew I liked to be fun and sexy and flirty," said Laura.

As part of his so-called "Cougar Defense," William Lanham is showing his wife's steamy calendar off in court, hoping to paint her as an unfit mom.

"These are no more racy than a Victoria's Secret model," said Laura, "If I pose in a calendar, it doesn't mean I'm not a good mother."

Along with the "cougar" label, William Lanham is trying to prove his ex-wife is going through a mid-life crisis, "hitting clubs" with younger guys, "acting like a teenager," and is "emotionally unstable."
"My daughter is 17. The bulk of us raising her is pretty well done. She's a great kid," said Laura.

So what does she think about her ex's legal chances with the first ever "Cougar Defense?"

"Desperate. Hi, my name is Desperate," said Laura.