Student-Teacher Sex is Now Legal in Arkansas
The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Arkansas teachers can have sex with students who are age 18 and older, calling a ban on such conduct unconstitutional.
In a 4-3 decision Thursday, the court said adult students, age 18 years and older, have a constitutional right to have consensual sex. The age of consent in Arkansas is 16.
This conclusion was reached by the court as it dismissed sexual assault charges against David Paschal, 38, a teacher at Elkins High school who was sentenced to 30 years in state prison for admitting to a months-long, consensual sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student, reports Courthouse News.
The majority decision criticized the law for infringing on Paschal’s “fundamental right to privacy,” saying the law “criminalizes sexual conduct between adults.”
“Regardless of how we feel about Paschal’s conduct, which could correctly referred to as reprehensible, we cannot abandon our duty to uphold the rule of law when a case presents distasteful facts,” according to the majority opinion authored by Chief Justice Jim Hannhan. “Paschal’s convictions for sexual assault in the second degree are reversed and dismissed.”
While the dissent criticized the majority for treating both members of the sexual relationship as equals, as opposed to “to a student-teacher relationship in high school where the teacher is without question the authority figure.”
“In doing so, the majority skews and minimizes the role of a teacher and views a sexual affair between a high school student and teacher as merely one between consenting adults,” Justice Robert Brown wrote. “That view distorts the facts of this case and discards the valid objective of the General Assembly to criminalize this conduct.”
“This will cause significant disruption in our high schools and have a deleterious impact on education in general and the teacher-student dynamic in particular,” Brown wrote for the dissenting justices. “That is completely contrary to the state’s duty, which is to protect its students in the public school setting against sexual advances and exploitation by teachers. That duty has been completely jeopardized and undermined by today’s decision.”