Written by Kevin Hickey
“[T]he fundamental right to privacy implicit in our law protects all private, consensual, noncommerical acts of sexual intimacy between adults.” Jegley v. Picado, 349 Ark. 600, 632, 80 S.W.3d 332, 350 (2002)
Ok, well what if one adult is a high school teacher and the other adult is one of his students? That was the question presented to the Arkansas Supreme Court and which was decided last week. It is undisputed that the relationship was consensual. However, the teacher was arrested because the relationship violated an Arkansas law that prevents teachers from having sex with students that are under the age of 21. Below is an excerpt from the opinion:
Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-14-125(a)(6) (Supp. 2009), in effect at the time of the crimes charged, provided that “[a] person commits sexual assault in the second degree if the person [i]s a teacher in a public school in a grade kindergarten through twelve (K-12) and engages in sexual contact with another person who is [a] student enrolled in the public school and [l]ess than twenty-one (21) years of age.” The record reveals that A.D. [student] was an adult when she engaged in a sexual relationship with Paschal [teacher], and the State does not dispute Paschal’s contention that the sexual relationship was consensual. Paschal contends that because he and A.D. were adults engaged in a consensual sexual relationship, the statute unconstitutionally infringes on a fundamental right.
The Supreme Court of Arkansas agreed.
I understand the court's rationale and the constitutional issues involved. And the the extremely important right to privacy issue that must be protected. But I can't help but think that a HUGE can of worms has been opened by this opinion.