Tuesday, January 21, 2020
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Teachers accused of sexually abusing Balto. students

A math teacher at a middle school in Pikesville, Maryland, and a basketball coach and hall monitor at an elementary/middle school in East Baltimore were charged this month in connection with the sexual abuse of 13-year-old students in separate and unrelated incidents, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Let’s be clear: Having sex with a 13-year-old is a crime in all 50 states. (New Orleans Office of Public Affairs / Flickr CC)

At the Northwest Academy of Health Sciences in Pikesville, known until last year as Old Court Middle School, Chadwick Zamarron, 35, stands accused of writing hall passes for a female student to excuse her from class so the two could engage in sexual contact in his classroom. At Collington Elementary/Middle School, Carl Trusty, 26, is said to have engaged in a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student, who told police the sex was consensual.

“A consensual relationship is not something that a 13-year-old girl can offer,” the Sun quoted TJ Smith, a police spokesman, as saying. “A 13-year-old girl cannot consent to a sexual relationship with an adult. That’s a crime.”

He’s been charged with second-degree rape, while Mr Zamarron, who has worked for Baltimore County Public Schools for about 10 years, according to a schools spokesman, is being held without bail in the Baltimore County Detention Center.

Age of consent laws for teens

Laws on the sexual behavior of teens vary from state to state. The age of consent in Maryland is 16, so 16-year-olds may legally consent to sex. In Illinois, the age of consent is 17. In many states, including Maryland, there’s also an age-gap provision that allows consent by minors, provided the two people are close in age. In addition, some states—but not Maryland or Illinois—allow the so-called “age mistake” defense, where a defendant would be found not guilty upon proving the minor misrepresented his or her age.

In most US states, the age of consent is automatically 18 whenever one person has a position of authority over another, such as a teacher over a student or a doctor over a patient. This provision applies in both Maryland and Illinois.

So, what this means is that a 30-year-old teacher who has consensual sex with an 18-year-old student couldn’t be charged with a crime anywhere in America. But that teacher should be fired and should probably try to stay away from schools. Students need to make it known that they’re in school to learn, not to pick up a husband, wife, or one-night stand. At least I hope that’s the case.

I’m not so naïve to think that all sex grows out of loving relationships or that predators feel any real love for their victims, now or ever. But the fact is, students are a captive audience: they really have no other choice but to be in school. When a woman goes with a friend to a bar, that’s one thing. One can presume and then test that she’s there to meet people for possible relationships. This is not the case in schools, and people who can’t figure that out need to remove themselves from schools permanently. I just wish there were some test we could give people to see if they can tell the difference between a student who is really connecting with them as a teacher and a person in a singles bar who is testing the waters of a possible relationship. But so far, we don’t have anything.

Finally, some people argue that this type of crime doesn’t really hurt anybody, and from a physical perspective, I guess that’s pretty accurate. But as most people know, there’s a lot more to students in a school building than just their physical safety. There’s also the “social intelligence” factor, and harm is definitely caused to that, not just for the victim but for others who may have felt a connection with the perpetrator.

How to help

If you would like to help stop statutory rape of students by teachers, or even by older students, you need to educate yourself first about statutory rape, experts say. Sometimes this involves “remembering what it was like” as a teenager in these circumstances.

“Adolescent years are filled with physical, mental, and emotional changes. Adolescents are no longer children and are not yet adults. Educate yourself on how teens communicate and think. Although each teen is unique, the underlying causes of frustration, communication, and decision-making derive from the physiological and emotional development of adolescence,” says the website for a cooperative project of the Office on Violence Against Women and the Minnesota Center Against Violence & Abuse at the University of Minnesota.

The majority of advice intended for adults, though, says to learn the law and provide resources for teens so they properly understand the law. Many states publish campaigns about statutory rape or sex with individuals who are too young to give legal consent. These programs, such as ShesNotOldEnough.com from the Nevada State Health Division, provide posters, pamphlets, and other educational materials that deal with prevention.

Rape is a crime. It is not justified by entitlement or participation as an educator in some high school student’s life trajectory. There’s a reason pretty, young girls are known as “jail bait.” Please, learn the law, and teach it to others!

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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