Arkansas overturns teacher-student sex law
'If the child wants to have sex when they are 18 with their teacher, that is fine,' parent says
The Arkansas Supreme Court has overturned the state's law banning sexual
contact between teachers and students, finding that people 18 or older
have a constitutional right to engage in a consensual sexual
relationship. The high court ruled in favor of 38-year-old David
Paschal, an Elkins High School history and psychology teacher who
admitted having a five-month consensual sexual relationship with an
David Paschal, who is serving a 30-year sentence, will have his convictions reversed and dismissed. Paschal's attorney, Casey Copeland, said his client was 'vindicated by the Supreme Court.'
Attorneys for the state argued that high school students should be protected from sexual advances of teachers who are in positions of authority. But the high court found the law was unconstitutional because it criminalized sexual conduct between consenting adults.
"If the child wants to have sex when they are 18 with their teacher, that is fine," parent Amy Dardenne told television reporters. "They are adults at 18, so they might as well do what they want to do."
Justice Robert Brown said in a dissenting opinion that the majority's decision will cause disruption in high schools because there will be nothing to prevent teachers from having sex with students who are 18 or older.
"This will cause significant disruption in our high schools and have a deleterious impact on education in general and the teacher-student dynamic in particular," Brown wrote.
It's not yet known if the state will appeal the ruling.
"We respect the Court's decision, although we disagree with it," Aaron Sadler, spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel wrote in an email. "We are currently evaluating our options, which include seeking a rehearing."
Whether the ruling will see another day in court is unclear. "We're reviewing the decision," Matt DeCample, spokesman for Governor Mike Beebe says. "It's way too early to talk about any immediate attempts at a legislative response."
Paschal, who is serving a 30-year sentence, will have his convictions reversed and dismissed. Paschal's attorney, Casey Copeland, said his client was "vindicated by the Supreme Court."
"I think that this case does not necessarily say a teacher can do that and keep their job," Copeland said. "I think the loss of job and loss of teacher's license might be appropriate for that, but it's not appropriate to put someone in jail for 30 years."
Several states have laws banning sexual consent between teachers and students. A Republican assemblywoman in California introduced a bill this week to create a law similar to what was just struck down in Arkansas. If the bill is successful, she said, California would be the 24th state to ban student-teacher sex. In other states, such situations are considered a felony.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Teacher, student, consensual sex, laws, felony
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