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In Arkansas, teachers can now have sex with students: As long as the students have reached the age of consent.
The Arkansas Supreme Court Thursday stuck down the state’s law banning teachers from screwing students under age 21 — overturning a sexual assault conviction against a high school teacher who engaged in a five-month affair with an 18-year-old student at the school.
David Paschal was a teacher in the Elkins School District when he began a sexual relationship in 2009 with a senior who had been a student of his in the eighth and 10th grades as well as a babysitter for his children.
A jury in 2001 convicted Paschal of four counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of attempting or bribing a juror at a previous trial. The judge gave the teacher a 30-year prison sentence.
In overturning the conviction on the sexual assault charges, Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah wrote in a majority opinion that the primary issue was “Paschal’s fundamental right to engage in private, consensual, noncommercial acts of sexual intimacy with an adult. We hold that it does.”
Added Hannah: “Regardless of how we feel about Paschal’s conduct, which could be correctly be referred to reprehensible, we cannot abandon our duty to uphold the rule of law when a case presents distasteful facts.”
Dissenting Justice Robert Brown disagreed:
For the majority to say that such authority vanishes when a student 18 ignores the realities of the student-teacher relationship. I cannot agree that a teacher has a right protected by our constitution to engage in sexual contact with a student.
The prosecution in the case may ask for a rehearing.