A Montana teacher will serve 30 days in jail for involuntary sex with a 14-year-old student, who later committed suicide. Stacey Dean Rambold, who was 49 when he started a sexual relationship with Cherice Morales. The troubled girl killed herself a few weeks before her 17th birthday.
Judge G. Todd Baugh said the girl was older than her chronological age and “as much in control of the situation” as her teacher. In response to protests, Baugh apologized.
Rambold had a chance to get the charges dismissed, but failed to complete a sexual offender treatment program.
Thirty days was too long a sentence, argues Betsy Karasik, a writer and former lawyer, in the Washington Post. Sex between students and teachers shouldn’t be a crime, she believes.
“Teachers who engage in sex with students, no matter how consensual, should be removed from their jobs and barred from teaching unless they prove that they have completed rehabilitation,” Karasik concedes. But let’s not get “hysterical.”
When I was growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, the sexual boundaries between teachers and students were much fuzzier. Throughout high school, college and law school, I knew students who had sexual relations with teachers. To the best of my knowledge, these situations were all consensual in every honest meaning of the word, even if society would like to embrace the fantasy that a high school student can’t consent to sex. Although some feelings probably got bruised, no one I knew was horribly damaged and certainly no one died.
No harm, no foul? That’s hard to argue when Cherice Morales killed herself, but Karasik blames the criminal case against Rambold for his victim’s suicide.
If someone wants to argue that it’s OK for teachers to have sex with their underage students, I’d look for a 23-year-old teacher who falls for an 17-year-old student. This was a 49-year-old preying on a 14-year-old girl who was hurt so badly she killed herself. If she was mature, consenting and in control, she wouldn’t have killed herself.
How low can we go? asksWesley J. Smith, who links to articles “normalizing” what used to be called pedophilia and is now “cross-generational sex.”