Teachers, students and sex
A 29-year-old female teacher and track team coach in Maryland's Anne Arundel County has been charged with three counts of fourth degree sex offense--a misdemeanor--for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male student. But if that had happened in Georgia, the teacher wouldn’t have broken any laws.
Student-teacher sexual relations are disturbing in all cases, but they are not necessarily illegal.
In Anne Arundel, Kristyn Nicole Breeds of Severna Park had been placed on administrative leave from Northeast High School by the time police became aware of the situation and investigated, a police statement said. She was charged yesterday because the alleged offense does violate state law.
But last month, in Cobb County, Georgia, a judge ruled that 36-year-old Christopher King did not break any laws when, as a teacher at Marietta High School, he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he approached the girl, calling her about a football game shortly after they had met.
Why isn't his alleged sexual relationship with the girl a crime?
Because the Georgia Supreme Court ruled last summer that when a student who is 16 years old or older consents to having sex, that willingness can be a defense for teachers facing sexual assault charges.
Judge Robert Flournoy accepted the defense, saying, “It’s gross, it’s awful, but it ain’t illegal.”
Meanwhile, in Washington state, an appeals court agreed with a 33-year-old teacher that he did not violate any laws either when he had a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old senior in his school.
The law is unclear, but the court agreed that it only protects kids younger than 18, even if they still are students.
I'm not a lawyer and know if a law can protect 18-year-old high school students from their teachers. And I know that some high school students can look like they are twice their age have sexual experience well before they meet up with a teacher.
That doesn't ever make it okay for a teacher to abuse the teacher-student relationship--and the law should protect young people (even from themselves) as much as it can. I'm going to guess that Georgia legislators are going to reconsider that law.
Any teacher knows--or should know--that an unbreakable rule of the job is to keep their hands off the kids. If they can't, there should be real consequences.
(The Associated Press did a five-year study looking at cases from 2001 through 2005. About 500 educators faced disciplinary or criminal action after charges that they had sexual relations with students, but only 10 percent of those teachers were women. The AP discovered that female teachers generally got much lighter penalties than males.)
What do you think about the differing laws?
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| January 15, 2010; 3:53 PM ET
Categories: Teachers | Tags: teacher-student sexual relationships
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