Increasingly, female teachers are being charged with sex crimes—crimes that sometimes involve their students and other times do not.
The latter was the case recently when a science teacher at a middle school in Springfield, VA, was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. None of the material featured any of her current or former students, authorities said.
Police in Fairfax County reportedly had received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. That tip provided an IP address for someone in the county who possessed child pornography. This led police to the woman’s home, where she lived alone.
Police reportedly found videos and photos of child sexual abuse on the Snapchat of the woman, who is 28.
She now faces 2 counts of possession of child pornography. She also has been suspended from her job.
She was released from detention on a $2,000 unsecured bond.
Why are child sex crimes, and other sex crimes in general, considered different and treated differently?
Largely because society tends to view sex crimes as worse than many other crimes—perhaps worse than all other crimes, especially when they involve a child.
More female teachers arrested for child sex crimes
Still, more female teachers also are being arrested for sex crimes involving children. Usually, these involve a female teacher having a sexual relationship with an underage male student.
According to Fox News, the Center for Sex Offender Management, which is run by the United States Department of Justice, says women in general—not just women teachers—account for about 10 percent of all sex crimes that are reported to authorities.
However, when it comes to sex crimes committed by teachers against students, it’s believed that as many as 30 percent of teacher-student sexual offenses are committed by women—women who sometimes strongly deny that they committed such actions.
Trend of teacher arrests for child sex crimes in 2022
A recent analysis by Fox News Digital found that a smaller but still significant number of female teachers have been arrested for child sex crimes in 2022.
That analysis—which only included cases that have been publicized—found that at least 135 teachers, teachers’ aides and substitute teachers have been arrested so far this year for child sex-related crimes in the U.S.
Such crimes occurred in 41 different states between Jan. 1 and May 13, 2022, and have included child pornography as well as sexual assault or sexual abuse of students. Slightly more than three-fourths of the crimes were committed directly against students.
Of the 135 publicized sex crimes committed by teachers, the analysis showed that 105 were committed by male teachers, and 30 were committed by female teachers.
Erika Sanzi, director of outreach for Parents Defending Education, told Fox News Digital that the last federally commissioned study on the issue was in 2004 when smartphones did not exist. That study claimed that nearly 1 in 10 students had been the target of sexual misconduct by educators during their school years.
Since then, the ease of verbal and visual communication provided by smartphones is believed to have increased the amount of inappropriate teacher-student relationships.
“Educator sexual abuse is a major problem that largely gets ignored because it’s so uncomfortable to talk about,” Sanzi said. “While a very small fraction of educators and school employees prey on the children in their care, one bad actor can do damage to many students.”
Female teachers’ punishments may differ
Some studies show that women have received more lenient punishments than males who have committed the same crime due to a societal double standard that is less forgiving of male teachers who sexually abuse students.
“Although the potential criminal penalties are the same regardless of gender and the alleged actions are similar, in many cases female teacher offenders face lighter criminal penalties than their male counterparts,” reports the website Leoweekly.com. “There is no shortage of cases that highlight the leniency attractive female teachers receive for their crimes.”
However, women, too, can receive high fines and lengthy prison sentences for child sexual assault or child sexual abuse. And upon release, they may have to register as a sex offender, which can hamper their ability to get a job and choose a place to live.
Investigations into improper relationships between teachers and students have risen significantly in recent years, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Texas laws on child sex crimes can be severe
Different states have different laws and punishments for sexual offenses involving children, but the fact that such crimes are against children tends to make punishments higher and more severe around the nation.
In Texas, such criminal offenses can include a teacher having an improper student-teacher relationship with a student who is of legal age to consent to such sexual contact. (The legal age of consent in Texas is 17 or older.)
If the student was younger than 17 when the offense occurred, the teacher could be charged with sexual assault of a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child or indecency with a child.
Regardless of student age, Texas Penal Code Chapter 21 holds that it is a crime in Texas for a teacher or any other employee of a public or private elementary, middle or high school to have sexual contact with a student who is enrolled at the school or is in the school district where the employee works.
Like sexual assault of a child 14 to 16 years old, such a crime is a 2nd-degree felony, for which punishments can include a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of 2 to 20 years. Teachers also may lose their teaching license and have to register as sex offenders.
Punishments for indecency with a child, via contact or exposure, can range from a 2nd-degree felony with a maximum 20-year prison sentence to a 3rd-degree felony with a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
Get an experienced teacher sex crime defense lawyer
Not all teachers who are accused of sexual misconduct by students have actually committed the crime. A student may lash out at a teacher as revenge for poor grades or perceived favoritism toward other students.
If you face a charge, accusation or investigation of an inappropriate teacher-student relationship or some other child sexual offense, contact an experienced sex crime defense attorney in the Houston area immediately.