They lived near each other and shared a common station in life: divorced, working mothers, each raising two children.
Angela Honeycutt and Lynne Long-Higham "were good friends," defense lawyer Niels Eriksen said yesterday. "They are basically two single mothers going through life together."
Now the two Bucks County women also are joined on the crime blotter. Both face charges from a teen sleepover in April that police contend turned into a sex party.
Honeycutt, 38, a newspaper-advertising saleswoman, and Long-Higham, 45, a program manager for health-care grants in New Jersey, were charged Wednesday after an investigation by police in Lower Makefield Township.
Their lawyers maintain both are innocent and indicate they will fight the charges.
Honeycutt is charged with statutory sexual assault and other crimes after two boys, 15 and 14, accused her of engaging in sexual activity with them April 11 and 12 at Long-Higham's house.
Long-Higham, who police say stood by while the crimes took place and at one point warned the teens not to tell anyone, faces misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors.
In court documents, police say Honeycutt started sexual conversations, then stripped, danced, kissed one of the boys, and invited others to touch her after a larger coed party wound down into a sleepover for six boys.
Ultimately, police say, Honeycutt enticed two of the teens into the shower, where she had sexual intercourse with the 15-year-old and engaged in other sexual activity with the 14-year-old.
Police were contacted a few days later after "one of the boys who had sexual contact with Honeycutt was thinking about it and felt badly," Lower Makefield Police Chief Ken Coluzzi said. "He was somewhat traumatized by it. He went to his parents, who contacted police."
Court documents indicate that three of the other five boys corroborated the 15-year-old's account. Coluzzi said neither Honeycutt nor Long-Higham had cooperated with the investigation.
Their versions may differ considerably from those of the boys, said Eriksen, who represents Honeycutt. He said that as many as 20 youths had been in and out of the house that evening, and that their accounts did not match.
"I don't know" what happened, Eriksen said, "but I do know that you've got 20 witnesses, and there's different versions of what everybody saw. Some are inconsistent with what the main victims are saying."
Long-Higham's attorney, Marc Rickles, did not return a call yesterday seeking comment. However, he told the Bucks County Courier Times on Wednesday that Long-Higham "was in a fragile condition" the night of the sleepover, and "was a victim of circumstance."
Coluzzi said the teens had reported seeing both women drinking during the party, "but there was no indication that there was alcohol furnished to the boys or any drugs present."
Honeycutt is on probation after pleading guilty in 2006 to a felony drug charge. According to court records, she admitted trying to use a fraudulent prescription to obtain oxycodone pills from a Middletown Township pharmacy.
Eriksen said Honeycutt had committed the crime at the behest of an old boyfriend. He said probation officials had not sought to jail her over this latest arrest, of which she had forewarned them.
Honeycutt's 8-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son have been sent to their grandmother in Texas for the summer. Because that had also been done in the past, Eriksen said, the children are not aware of their mother's arrest.
Honeycutt apparently did lose her job as an advertising saleswoman for the Courier Times. Publisher Dale Larson said yesterday that she was "no longer an employee."
Long-Higham has two sons, ages 12 and 14, Coluzzi said. Although teens at the party were friends of the older boy, neither he nor his brother was at the sleepover, the chief said. Coluzzi said he did not know where Honeycutt's children were that night.
Eriksen said that Bucks County child-welfare workers had removed Long-Higham's sons from her home during the investigation, but that her custody had been restored.
Long-Higham is identified online as a program manager for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Local Funding Partnerships. In an audio clip posted last summer on the foundation's Web site, she tells funding applicants that she has "worked in various capacities" for the foundation "for the past 20 years."
Adam Coyne, the foundation's director of public affairs, said Long-Higham was not a foundation employee but instead worked for the New Jersey Hospital Association.
A representative of the association could not be reached for comment.