Saturday, July 4, 2009

Massachusetts House Bill 1246 seeks to criminalize teacher/student sex - and much, much more

There is a bill in Massachusetts which seeks to criminalize teacher student sex when the teacher seduces a high school student over 16. Supporters of the bill, Massachusetts House Bill 1246, cite a female teacher who only lost her job when having sexual relationships with a minor between 16 and 18. Snce the current AOC is 16, students over 16 are considered fair sexual game.

While ostensibly focused on protecting high school students from predatory teachers, House Bill 1246 does much more than that. It criminalizes sex between social workers, mental health practitioners and clients, and college/university professors and students. Most of these are considered legal adults. The full text of this bill is below:

Section 21A. Any person who is employed by a public or private school or institution of higher learning, the department of youth services, the department of social services, the department of mental health, the department of mental retardation or any private institution providing services to clients of such departments and who in the course of such employment or contract with a pupil or client of such departments or institutions within or outside of any facility thereof or a pupil or client under the direct custodial supervision and control of such person or another person, a pupil or client shall be deemed incapable of consent to sexual relations with such person.

For purposes of this section, sexual relations shall include intentional, inappropriate contact of a sexual nature, including, but not limited to conduct prohibited by section 22 or 24 of chapter 265 or section 2, 3, 35 or 53A of chapter 272.

Brian's Opinion

I believe that while prohibiting sex between social workers and clients or professors and students is admirable, in most cases, these relationships are between two consenting adults. While it can be argued that consent between adults can be coerced, the existing sexual harassment statutes and institutional policies, if enforced, can handle claims among adults.

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