Teacher-Student Sex Isn't Necessarily a Crime

Former lawyer argues that 'utter hysteria' over underage cases isn't helping

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 31, 2013 11:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – And the honors for most provocative op-ed go to former lawyer Betsy Karasik, who argues in the Washington Post that the nation must curb its "utter hysteria" over cases involving teachers having sex with underage students: "I don’t believe that all sexual conduct between underage students and teachers should necessarily be classified as rape," she writes, "and I believe that absent extenuating circumstances, consensual sexual activity between teachers and students should not be criminalized." She writes that she's not trying to defend the Montana judge under fire for his comments about a 14-year-old victim being "older than her chronological years," but that "tarring and feathering him for attempting to articulate the context that informed his sentence will not advance this much-needed dialogue."

Karasik does think teachers who have sex with students should be removed from their jobs at least until rehab is complete, but she also says there is "a vast and extremely nuanced continuum of sexual interactions involving teachers and students, ranging from flirtation to mutual lust to harassment to predatory behavior." Automatic criminal proceedings that traumatize the students involved may be doing more harm than good. Click for her full column, which makes reference to a related observation from Louis CK.

Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh is under fire for the light sentence he gave to a teacher who has sex with a 14-year-old who later committed suicide.
Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh is under fire for the light sentence he gave to a teacher who has sex with a 14-year-old who later committed suicide.   (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
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