As Andrea F. Siegel reports for the Baltimore Sun, the sex laws regarding
a “person in authority” could get changed, if Maryland lawmakers
manage to push the changes they want through the legislature. At this
time, full-time teachers can have sexual relationships with students if
they aren’t persons in authority – in other words, if the
student goes to a different school – as long as the student is 16 or older.
Basically, prosecutors and lawmakers want to broaden what it means to be
a person in authority in the context of cases like
child molestation and other sex offenses.
Because as the law stands now, say prosecutors, other part-time employees
like sports coaches are not thought of as “persons in authority”
under which the employee could be charged for having a sexual relationship
with a student.
“It’s kind of a silly thing,” says one Maryland prosecutor,
as Siegel reports. “If you are a coach or a teacher who has control
over children, it ought to be a crime.”
The push to expand the scope of what it means to be a person in authority
in Maryland highlights the difficult nature of sex crimes and the age
of consent. In Maryland, the age of consent is 16 or older.
A teacher who has a sexual relationship with a student 16 or older –
especially if that teacher is also young and may have known the student
for awhile – gives rise to the question: should the teacher (or
coach) be charged with a sex crime simply because he or she is in some
way a part of the school system?