Unfortunately improper relationships between an educator and a student has been on the news a lot lately. I have summarized the law (Texas penal code 21.12)that governs it below:
Some of the key points here are that regardless of the age (the student could be 17 or 18, well above the legal age of consent in the state of Texas) it’s still a second-degree felony.
It doesn’t have to just be a teacher either, it can be anyone who works for the school. In other words, any employee of a public or private school can be charged with this, not just teachers.
You can be in violation of this even if it is done outside of school hours. It doesn’t have to take place at the school, or even on school property.
There can be several defenses for this type of case and it is vitally important to talk to a qualified attorney right away. Some of the primary defenses are spelled out in the code relating to situations where the relationship can be legally permissible. For example, if the educator and student were married when the sexual relationship occurred. Additionally, a relationship can be legally permissible if the relationship began before the teacher accepted employment with the school and there is no more than three years difference between the student and teacher.
It’s important to remember even when a person is charged with a crime, there could be more to the story, and a charge is not a conviction. You’re innocent until proven guilty. It’s always important to talk to an attorney before you talk to you any law enforcement agency or give any statements whatsoever.
21.12 Texas penal code.
(a) An employee of a public or private primary or secondary school commits an offense if the employee:
(1) engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school at which the employee works;
(2) holds a position described by Section 21.003(a) or (b), Education Code, regardless of whether the employee holds the appropriate certificate, permit, license, or credential for the position, and engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person the employee knows is:
(A) enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school, other than a school described by Subdivision (1); or
(B) a student participant in an educational activity that is sponsored by a school district or a public or private primary or secondary school, if students enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school are the primary participants in the activity; or
(3) engages in conduct described by Section 33.021, with a person described by Subdivision (1), or a person the employee knows is a person described by Subdivision (2)(A) or (B), regardless of the age of that person.
(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree.
(b-1) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that:
(1) the actor was the spouse of the enrolled person at the time of the offense; or
(2) the actor was not more than three years older than the enrolled person and, at the time of the offense, the actor and the enrolled person were in a relationship that began before the actor’s employment at a public or private primary or secondary school.
(c) If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under another section of this code, the actor may be prosecuted under either section or both sections.
(d) The name of a person who is enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school and involved in an improper relationship with an educator as provided by Subsection (a) may not be released to the public and is not public information under Chapter 552, Government Code