Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Sex Crime in a Class of Its Own

Via Wendy McElroy, I find the story of a 25-year-old woman who faces criminal charges for having sex with... a 15-year-old? Nope. A 17-year-old? Nope. She’s being charged with having sex with an 18-year-old. This is in Texas, where the age of consent is 17. Say what? Well, it seems Texas has a law that specifically forbids sex between educators and students (it’s unclear from the article whether the student must be the educator’s own student).

As McElroy notes, this law is beyond silly and possibly unconstitutional. The very same act would have been legal if the woman were the boy’s next-door neighbor or, for that matter, his employer. The law specifically targets members of just one profession: teachers.

There are, of course, very good reasons for teachers not to sleep with their students. The problem here is a failure to distinguish between unethical conduct and criminal conduct. Schools may adopt policies to discipline employees who engage in unethical or otherwise undesirable behavior, sex-with-students included. Many schools do, and that’s the appropriate way to deal with the problem. But threatening to put a woman behind bars (five have been imprisoned so far under this law) for what was assuredly consensual sex with a legal adult? What a crock.

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