A Texas judge has sent a letter to Aldine and Houston-area school superintendents urging safeguards advised by an expert to help avoid teacher-student sexual relationships.
State District Judge Michael McSpadden heard these safeguards in court before sentencing former Aldine ISD teacher Alexandria Vera, age 24, to 10 years in prison for having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student.
Vera faced 25 years to life in prison if she’d been convicted of continuous aggravated sexual assault of a child, a felony with severe punishment even for a first-time offender.
The judge’s letter came with four pages of transcript from Vera’s sentencing, at which a psychologist advised schools to offer continuing education for teachers on boundaries, to guard cell phone numbers, to prevent teacher-student socializing and to avoid one-on-one meetings with students.
Texas had 222 recorded cases of teachers having inappropriate relationships with students in 2016, hitting an 8-year high. Around 60 teachers in the Houston area’s biggest school districts alone lost their teaching license due to impropriety with a student.
Teachers Are Not Protected
Citing “a dramatic increase in these teacher/student cases in Texas,” McSpadden offered such suggestions to “protect our children and our teachers.”
Urging schools to protect teachers is ironic coming from a judge who said he needed to send a message to the community with Vera’s 10-year sentence, even though he doesn’t believe she is a danger to other children.
Message received, and it’s this:
Teachers also need protection – and from more than students’ advances. Teachers need protection from severe laws and a judicial system which can overreact. Regardless of individual circumstances, teachers who become sexually involved with students are being harshly sentenced with prolonged and needless prison time.
Consider Vera’s circumstances: The boy’s family knew of their relationship and approved, the judge said. A supportive letter from the boy’s mother was even read in court prior to sentencing.
If anything, the psychologist who advised schools to take preemptive action against teacher-student relationships did so while stressing that students themselves often initiate and heighten such relationships.
Yet teachers are the ones who are punished – and often severely, with prison time and loss of their teaching license and their job.
Skilled Defense Against Harsh Texas Laws
Harsh Texas laws fail to take such circumstances into account.
Under Texas Penal Code Section 22.011(a)(2), sex with minors below age 17 is a second degree felony with punishment of 2 to 20 years in state prison and/or a fine of as much as $10,000. Sex with minors under 14 is a first-degree felony punished by 5 to 99 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
By Texas law, these are strict liability offenses, meaning there are no exceptions.
If you need defense against such severe and unjust charges and punishments for a teacher-student relationship, notify experienced Houston sex crime defense lawyer Neal Davis. For clients in Harris County, Fort Bend County and Montgomery County, he can fight for defendants’ legal rights and work to get charges diminished or dismissed.
Contact the Neal Davis Law Firm today for a legal consultation.