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When Can a Teacher-Student Relationship Lead to Criminal Charges?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Dallas sexual misconduct defense lawyer

In the United States, crimes against children are taken very seriously. In 2015, approximately 3.5 million students who were surveyed by the Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation organization reported having had physical sexual contact from an adult. Most often, these perpetrators were listed as teachers or coaches. When other types of sexual misconduct are included in the calculation, this number increases to 4.5 million children in 8th through 11th grades. These actions include exposure to pornography, sexually explicit language, or exhibitionism.

Due to the prevalence of sexual abuse by teachers or other people in positions of authority, teachers should be aware of the potential for accusations of having an inappropriate teacher-student relationship. These claims can not only lead to criminal charges, but they can also cause a great deal of damage to one's reputation and career. Teachers should be sure to understand the laws surrounding these types of cases and the potential consequences of an accusation.

Texas Regulations on Student-Teacher Relationships

Texas law has clearly defined what is considered inappropriate in student-teacher interactions. Any type of sexual contact or indecent exposure with someone under the age of 18 is a felony. Perpetrators of these types of offenses are required to register as sex offenders. This does not only include teachers and students. According to Texas legislation, if any school district employee engages in a sexual relationship with a student (regardless of the student’s age), it is considered a felony. Thus, even if the child is of a legal age to give consent, the relationship is still considered a crime. It does not matter if the teacher is from another school. The law bans all school employees from having relationships with students.

If a relationship is suspected, an investigation must be completed, even if the employee resigns from his or her position within the school district. Parents and guardians must be notified of the alleged relationship. If the accused person is found guilty of sexual misconduct or an intimate relationship, the State Board for Educator Certification will revoke the employee’s teaching certificate permanently.

What Is Considered Inappropriate?

Educators often form close relationships with students. While this can be beneficial for the student and his or her future, there is a fine line between being a supportive role model and becoming too close with a student. The following are prohibited acts for teachers. Some show obvious signs of inappropriateness, but it is important for any school employee to keep these in mind as he or she interacts with students:

  • Communication showing the educator solicited a romantic relationship with the student

  • Inappropriate comments about a student’s body

  • Making sexually demeaning comments to a student 

  • Making comments about a student’s potential sexual performance

  • Asking details of a student’s sexual history or past

  • Requesting to go out on a date

  • Conversations regarding sexual problems, preferences, or fantasies of either person

  • Inappropriate hugging, kissing, or excessive touching

  • Suggesting that a romantic relationship will begin after the student graduates

  • Providing the student with drugs or alcohol

Contact a Plano Criminal Defense Lawyer 

Inappropriate behavior between an educator and student is taken very seriously by Texas school districts and legislators. Being accused of sexual misconduct can ruin your current and future career. While claims regarding the actions listed above can be very serious, it can be difficult for a court to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a relationship actually occurred, since interactions can be easily misinterpreted. At The Crowder Law Firm, P.C., we have obtained more than 200 acquittals and not-guilty verdicts for our clients in the last two decades. If you have been accused of involvement in an inappropriate relationship with a student, contact our experienced Collin County sexual misconduct defense attorneys at 214-303-9600 for a free consultation.

Sources: 

https://childrenstreatmentcenter.com/sexual-abuse-teachers/

https://tcta.org/node/12941

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