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People are crazy, there is no doubt about it.wtf-gorilla

And the morality police are truly going too far.

Short version: back in 2006, a high school teacher (age 33) was accused of having a sexual relationship with a senior, age 18 at the time. He’s fired, charged, dismissed from his job and his record smeared. Here’s the rub: the law he’s charged with breaking? First-degree sexual misconduct with a minor.

Please read that again: first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor—yet the student was 18 years of age.

And the case was not dismissed until it got to the Washington Court of Appeals.

How, pray, was this a crime?

Not only is 16 the age of consent in Washington State, but hello? 18 years old? Adults, people. They can vote, pay taxes, start businesses, enlist and go to war, sign contracts, effin’ get married… but they can’t have sex with another adult?

I don’t get this stuff.

Look, it’s not that I’m opposed to the protection of the innocent—I’m perfectly fine with a code of conduct (and the article does mention that there is one already in place) that prohibits sexual contact between teacher and student under any situation, so that neither teachers or students can take advantage of each other. And any sexual contact with a minor under 16 is already considered rape and therefore a crime.

But why oh why would anyone want to criminalize consensual sex between adults?

“Some state legislators are set on changing the law. On Monday, six state representatives introduced legislation that would make it a crime punishable by a mandatory minimum of five years in prison for a teacher to have sex with a student up to age 21, as long as the teacher is five years older than the student and at the same school.”

22 Comments »


  • Nonny
    March 2
    12:41 pm

    Well. I’m generally of the idea that it’s unethical for a teacher to have sex with a student, given that they are an authority figure and that is so easily abused. But… uh. “Minor”? NO.

    I rather doubt that a change in the law will go through.

    Back a few years ago, I went reading up on age of consent by state. I want to say there are actually a few where the AoC is 19, not 18. So, uh, yeah, you can vote but technically sex is statutory rape…. o.O

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  • Someone with a better grasp of the law than I might know this better, but some laws view as a minor not just the age, but if you’re at that age and the person is in a position of authority over the young adult. So possibly there was some sort of wording in the law that allowed them to charge him like that. There must have been something or it wouldn’t have happened, I’m guessing.

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  • When I worked at Job Corps it was understood that the students in our care were ‘minors’ under the consensual sex statutes, though, of course they can be up to age 24. There’s a similar law regarding inmates and prison guards. There’s an implied disparity in the power dynamic between a teacher/student or a guard/inmate. They might want to change the legalese, but I think it’s a good law.

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  • To answer your question of WHY? I personally think its a reflection of today’s politicians exploiting the mass and often hysterical movement to protect children from anything labeled The Sexual Predator. Doesn’t mean there’s no real victims out there, but to give it a wide-ass sweep in definition offers the exploiters more opportunity to come across like super-heroes and gain power. And they will continue to re-define the term “minor” as long as it suits their purpose.

    I firmly believe that with these anal laws that if the law makers could make them retro-active they’d be putting our grandparents in jail because way back when Grandpa at 24 knocked up Grandma when she was sixteen. Doesn’t matter if they were in love, got married, had ten more children and lived happily together the rest of their lives. There was that nasty thing called SEX involved, and it has to be crushed like the diabolical scourge that it is.

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  • Tuscan Capo, I think it’s somewhat disingenuous to bring what happened ‘back in the day’ into the equation. For one thing, people didn’t live nearly as long and therefore were considered adults much earlier. A 16 yo girl was considered an adult because there was a strong likelihood that she’d die in childbirth. A lot of men had several wives over their lifetimes for this reason.

    But I tell you now, any teacher fucking my 18 yo is going to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, especially if they’re nearly twice my child’s age. That’s taking unfair advantage I don’t care how you look at it.

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  • Roslyn, I don’t know about “back in the day”–my grandfather was 22 years older than my grandmother, after all–but I keep wondering, how long is a child a child, then?

    Why is it acceptable for an 18 year old to sign with the Army/Navy/Air Force–therefore placing their very life in the hands of an authority figure (the government through whichever branch service they sign on for)–yet their choosing to have sex with another adult should be criminalized?

    I repeat, I *do* think it’s an ethical code violation, and that the older party should know better and take steps to avoid falling into such a dynamic–but a crime?

    Crime?

    How long do adults need to be protected from themselves, then?

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  • I’d say very poor judgment on part of the teacher–it does become an ethical thing in my mind, and I don’t think a teacher with that sort of ethical code should be teaching. I’ve got no problems with his losing his job, and I don’t feel he should be allowed to teach in the future.

    However, I also don’t think he should have been charged with a crime-she’s 18. Unless there’s some sort of mental incapacity, there’s no crime.

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  • The issue is not the age of the student, the issue is the difference in their perceived position of power. I doubt there would have been a prosecution had the 18 yo had sex with a 33 yo who wasn’t a teacher. There’s a different power dynamic at play here. Teachers shouldn’t be boffing their students and it most assuredly SHOULD be a crime.

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  • What Rosalyn said…both times.

    I’m a former high school teacher and it is a HUGE abuse of power for a teacher to be involved with a student. If he was “in love” with her, then he could have waited until she graduated.

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  • So… any relationship where there is an imbalance of power should be criminalized?

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  • I don’t think we have the power to criminalize all exploitative relationships, but most assuredly a TEACHER who after all is an employee of the STATE meaning the taxpayers are certainly in that class of people who should be prosecuted. I think it’s a goddamned shame that parents are paying the salaries of people who are sleeping with their kids.

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  • I don’t see her as an adult. She’s still in school. She’s still under her parent’s care. Except for the number of her age, by all other rights, she’s a kid. She’s not a college co-ed out on her own, nor is she in the military serving our country, even though she could be. She isn’t. She’s a high school senior.

    So yeah, to me, it’s wrong.

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  • Wrong, agreed.

    A crime?

    I disagree.

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  • She is not a minor but that does not make it right for a teacher, coach, therapist, doctor, foster parent or any other individual acting in loco parentis (legally taking on the place and responsibilitiesof a parent) to have sex with her. So yes, I think it is a form of sex that should be disallowed, whether this is done under criminal or other regulation seems somewhat beside the point to me. Most teachers, nurses etc I know consider loco parentis a very serious thing whether it involves a 6 year old, or a developmentally delayed 60 year old. If they met as strangers in a bar it would be creepy but not problematical in the same way.

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  • West
    March 2
    9:48 pm

    Wrong? Yes. A violation of ethics? Bet your ass. But a crime? I don’t think so. My problem here is the fact that the laws are different because it was a student. 18 is 18 as far as I’m concerned. And as for places where age of consent is higher than age of legal adulthood? That’s ridiculous, and needs to be changed. It can’t be both ways. Either they’re adults who can choose for themselves, or they aren’t.

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  • Julie, I see the argument of “still living at home, therefore a child” to be… far too broad. (Unless I misunderstand what you’re saying.) There are adults that live with their parents for a variety of reasons. I know a few close to their thirties that have been forced to move back home due to lay-offs and inability to find work. I also know adults that live with their parents for reasons of physical (not mental) disability.

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  • Nonny, that’s not what I meant. I think there’s a big difference between someone who had to move back home because of the circumstances you laid out and someone who has yet to be on their own because they are still in school.

    I think vein made the BEST argument. In loco parentis. Yup, yup, yup.

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  • Sybil
    March 2
    11:05 pm

    Normally I am all for live and let live. 18 is the age of consent point blank end of story but I have to agree with Julie Leto, Roslyn and shi here I thing it is the fact he was the teacher.

    And seriously what a moron a month before school lets out he starts up an ‘affair’ with an 18 year old kid? It must have ended badly for her to go to the school or cops or whatev she did to get him arrested.

    Should he be arrested prolly not but should he be teaching kids, honestly I wouldn’t want him at a highschool ::shrug::

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  • Marianne McA
    March 2
    11:37 pm

    I agree with Vein – when I send my daughter to school, those teachers have a duty of care towards her, and they aren’t free to have a relationship with her.
    Plus, it’s just ikky – one of our Art teachers when I was at school had a relationship with one of the girls, and we all knew, and it breaks some mental boundary that needs to be there for the student-teacher relationship to operate properly. (Was an all girls school, and the male teachers have a difficult enough time with 13 year olds falling for their limited charms year in, year out. If you take away that surety that they are unattainable, it hurts everyone.)
    I wouldn’t have any problem with it being a crime.

    (And, on the age of consent thing, it’s 17 here, but you can legally get married at 16 with your parents’ consent. One would think that if you’re old enough to get married, you ought to be old enough to have sex with your husband.)

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  • Thanks for the clarification, Julie. 🙂

    I do think that the teacher should be punished, pref. barred from teaching permanently. I don’t think that it constitutes a crime, however, since the person in question was a legal adult. Unethical, very definitely. Illegal, no.

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  • criminalizing sexual contact between adults based on power imbalances is not uncommon. Counselors, attorneys, doctors, etc., can be brought up on charges of criminal sexual misconduct, depending on the laws of the state, for having sex with their clients.

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  • Also, in order to bar him from teaching they need some legal mandate. Civil servant jobs are often not “fire at will”–so he could sue to be reinstated unless something prevented him. Consider, if a vet has his license removed for hitting a dog that occurs under State law. Is boinking a student less serious than slapping a dog? Than breaking the speeding limit? Jaywalking? These are all crimes.

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