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Criminal charges

improper educator-student relationship

Most states prosecute educators (teachers) for improper sexual contact with students under the state’s statutory rape laws—which are premised on the student being under the age of consent recognized by law, even if the student was a willing participant.

But some states have enacted specific statutes making it a crime—often a felony—for an educator to have sexual contact with a student—even if the student has reached the age of consent (17 years of age, for example).

Laws vary from state to state, and laws governing sexual contact between educators and students are generally located in a state’s statutes—often in the penal or criminal code.

In Texas, it is a criminal offense for an educator to engage in sexual contact with a student. This is governed by Texas Penal Code Section 21.12, which makes it illegal for an employee of a public or private primary or secondary school to engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is enrolled at the same school at which the employee works, or whom the employee knows is a student participating in an educational activity sponsored by a school or school district the employee serves. This law applies regardless of the student's age or whether the student consents to the sexual relationship. Violation of this statute is considered an improper relationship between educator and student, which is a second-degree felony in Texas. The law is designed to protect students from exploitation by educators, recognizing the inherent power imbalance in such relationships.

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