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Jun 172014

A 30 year old special education teacher at a grade school in Philadelphia has been charged with multiple sexual offenses related to one of her students, a 14 year old boy.

The alleged conduct occurred as recently as April and May of this year. The teacher faces 8 counts:

  • Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse (Forcible Compulsion),
  • Unlawful Contact with a Minor,
  • Statutory Sexual Assault,
  • Interference with Custody of Children,
  • Endangering the Welfare of Children,
  • Corruption of Minors,
  • Indecent Exposure, and
  • Indecent Assault (without Consent of Other).

At her preliminary hearing on June 5, 2014, all charges were bound for court. In Philadelphia, criminal cases begin with a magistrate judge who will hold a preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing, the local District Attorney’s office must present sufficient evidence to justify each charge. The standard of proof is rather minimal; the DA must simply prove that there is probable cause to support each of the charged offenses.

Related: Teacher Liability for Committing Sexual Abuse of a Student

The most serious charges are Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse and Statutory Sexual Assault. These are first degree felonies. Therefore, this teacher faces up to 20 years in prison if she is convicted of just one of these charges.

Interestingly, the Philadelphia DA’s office chose not to charge this teacher with the relatively new crime of Institutional Sexual Assault of a Minor (3rd degree felony), which was passed and enacted in 2011.  In recent school sex abuse cases in the Philadelphia suburbs, several teachers have been charged with this new crime. The reason for the Philadelphia DA’s departure from the norm may be due to particularly aggravating factors; hence the first degree felony charges, instead of the 3rd degree felony charge of Institutional Sexual Assault of a Minor (3rd degree felonies carry a max of 7 years in prison).

Teachers Often Commit Sexual Abuse by Mental or Emotional Compulsion

In this recent case in Philadelphia, the DA must have sufficient facts to support the Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse (forcible compulsion) charge. Under PA criminal law, forcible compulsion is defined as:

Compulsion by use of physical, intellectual, moral, emotional or psychological force, either express or implied. The term includes, but is not limited to, compulsion resulting in another person’s death, whether the death occurred before, during or after sexual intercourse. (emphasis added)

Here, the teacher may have engaged in mental or emotional compulsion, which if true, is particularly heinous, considering the victim is a 14 year old boy.

Teachers who engage in sexual abuse of older students are often narcissistic and emotionally stunted. They think they are on a level playing field with their students. They often text students and hang out with students before and after school. The problem is that teachers who engage in what they think is a consenting sexual relationship with a student don’t realize the extreme emotional damage their actions cause. Older children are simply not emotionally developed enough to truly consent to such contact.

It’s a good thing the Philadelphia DA has bucked the trend and thrown the book at this particular teacher. Teachers must face the stiffest penalties possible; perhaps that will deter other teachers from sexually abusing or assaulting their students.

Related: School Sex Abuse & Civil Justice in PA and NJ – Who Can Be Held Liable?

Sex Abuse Lawyer in Philadelphia

If you or a loved one was sexually abused or assaulted, please contact our office for a free, confidential case review. Firm founder, Brian Kent, is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now fights for the rights of sex abuse victims in the civil courts. 800.220.7600

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 Posted by on June 17, 2014 School/Teacher Sex Abuse