Predatory teachers

Last December a 28-year-old male Ionia High School teacher took a student to a Kalamazoo hotel for sex the day after her 18th birthday. Despite being 18, the student was not set to graduate until June 2011.

Although an investigation was conducted by the Michigan State Police, the Ionia County prosecutor is unable to prosecute because the victim was one day past her 18th birthday, even though she was a student.

Parents send their children to school to learn, not to be preyed upon by their teachers. That is why I am proud to report that the Michigan Senate is working on legislation designed to protect our children from teachers and other individuals who would use their position of authority to take advantage of them.

Senate Bills 596 and 755 would make it a crime for a teacher or other school employee to have sex with a student, regardless of being 18 years of age or older, if the student attends a school where they work. Individuals convicted of engaging in this behavior would be guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree, which is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

I sponsored SB 755 after a local area prosecutor approached me about a loophole in the law that allows a teacher to have sex with an 18-year-old student without it being a crime. These Senate measures will close this loophole in state law.

During a public hearing on these measures, the Saginaw County prosecutor testified that a teacher in his jurisdiction gave higher grades to students who participated in sex acts and lower grades to students who did not.

People who would take advantage of the teacher-student relationship are sexual predators and should be treated as such. Teachers and other school officials are in positions of authority over students.

Students, regardless of whether or not they are legal adults, are not in a position to consent to a sexual relationship with authority figures. I hope these measures quickly advance to the governor’s desk and are signed into law. School is a place for learning, not a place for sexual predators to find their next victim.