The fact that a student may be over 17, the age of consent in Texas, does not constitute a defense to the accusation. What makes the act illegal is the fact that one party to the sex act is a teacher (or other district employee) and the other is a student. Period. Consent is immaterial. Unfortunately, however, the statement that everything is bigger in Texas proves true even as it relates to inappropriate student teacher relationships. In 2015 and 2016, more than 162 investigations were initiated by the Texas Education Agency.
Last year the agency also opened 188 investigations, the highest number in the entire country. The number of incidents of inappropriate teacher student relationships in Texas has been on the rise for the last five years.
What Makes It Illegal?
The age of consent in the state of Texas is 17, although many of the reported incidents captured by the Texas Education Agency involves students as young as 13. It is a crime to have an improper relationship between teachers and students. An employee of a private or public secondary or primary school will commit an official criminal offense if that employee:
· Engages in sexual intercourse, sexual contact or deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is enrolled in a private or public primary or secondary school at which the employee works in the same district in which the student attends. So teacher in school A can commit the crime by having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student in school B provided schools A and B are in the same district.
This is classified as a second degree felony when a teacher has a sexual relationship with a student. This could lead to up to 20 years in prison.
The Rise of Inappropriate Relationships
Despite this clear prohibition and the serious consequences, teachers are still having inappropriate sexual relationships with students at a record setting pace. Legislators, education groups and parents are all concerned about the best way to address this issue, and yet there are 78 former teachers in prisons throughout Texas on charges of improper sexual relationships.
How an Allegation Can Impact a Teacher
A teacher may watch his or her career fall apart in just a few days or weeks when a student or parent of that student alleges an improper relationship. Drawing clear lines between your personal and professional life with students can be difficult, particularly if you get along well with your students, but one allegation like this can haunt you for years to come. You may even be labeled a sex offender and have to register as such after the incident.
If you have been accused of an improper relationship with a student, it is critical that you consult with a knowledgeable defense lawyer as soon as possible. The consequences of being convicted of an improper relationship with a student could be catastrophic for your career as well as your life. In addition to criminal charges, you could have a record that follows you for many years to come. Reaching out to a Houston criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you have been charged is the best way to protect your rights and increase the chances that you will have your case defended vigorously.
Don’t allow your future to be left up to chance if you have been accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student. Consult with a Houston criminal defense attorney immediately to get the answers you need. You must identify an attorney who is committed to protecting your rights and your reputation.