Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14, 2013 Virginia State Crime Commission Meeting: Child Sexual Abuse and Teacher / Adult-Student Sexual Relationships

I previously posted the agenda for today’s 11AM meeting for everyone to be aware of the topics. I also posted about the September 3, 2013 VSCC meeting and the two statements I made. 

Today’s VSCC meeting topics that I was attending for are below. 

Child Sex Abuse- (HJ 595)
The Crime Commission was mandated to review laws, policies, regulations and training practices governing reporting, investigation, and tracking of complaints of suspected child sexual abuse cases.
Originally HJ 595  directed the Crime Commission to study one issue but as with many bills and resolutions during the yearly General Assembly session it was merged with another study and has 2 different parts. 

Review of laws, policies, regulations and training practices governing reporting, investigation, and tracking of complaints of suspected child sexual abuse cases. 

               This Part 1 was the reason for the summer Work Group that I was an invited to be member. 

Review how often sexual relationships occur secondary school employees and adult students, and the creation of possible criminal penalties for this behavior.  

·         In the last 5 academic years in Virginia there has been a total of 14 known Teacher / Adult-Student, Coach/ Adult-Student or School-Employee / Adult- Student Relationships.
·         11 States have criminalized Teacher/ Adult-Student Relationships (see slide 17 from presentation) and only Arkansas overturned the law. In summary VSCC staff told the Commission Members they feel a Constitutional challenge of a possible new law would be upheld. 

They do not video the meetings and the audio that I have is too big of a file to load so I am sharing the statement that I gave to the Commission Members today with all of you here. 

I made a public statement to the Commission members today in regards to Part 2. 

My Statement in reference to Part 2:
Consensual Sexual Relationships Between High School Employees and Adult Students

Commission Members, 

Let’s look at this proposal logically, not emotionally. 

On a teenagers 18th birthday according to Virginia law they have stepped over that magical line of being a minor and into adulthood. All Adults must make tough judgment calls in life, including encounters with people of authority, like employers, police officers and teachers.  

If an 18 year old commits a crime, they will be charged and sentenced as an adult not as a naive minor.  

If an 18 year old has a sexual relationship with a sophomore or a freshman (depending on the specific act and the age gap); Virginia takes the stance that the 18 year old is a perpetrator and the younger participant is a victim and charges will be filed whether the 18 year old knew they had committed a crime or NOT. 

Let’s say an 18 year old Senior and a 22 year old Teacher rob a convenience store, together? They both participated in a criminal act, would the State NOT charge them as equal participants? I believe we would. 

Plus… many cases when a juvenile commits a crime in Virginia they will be charged, tried and sentenced as an adult….. not as a minor.  Knowing all of this….. We’re entertaining the notion that an 18 year old should be treated as an incapable child… released of any responsibility in this one particular situation. We can't have our cake and eat it too. (I know this is the illogical version, but it's the best known version. I was worried if I said this correctly people at the meeting not knowing the difference would think I had messed the saying up)

For a minute…… let’s consider some unintended consequences of this proposal.