Washington Court: Teachers Can Have Sex With 18-Year-Old Students


That’s the decision of a three-judge panel of the Washington Court of Appeals, which on Tuesday ordered the dismissal of a case brought against Hoquiam High School’s former choir teacher.

The teacher, Matthew Hirschfelder, was charged with first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor.

(Apparently gravity wasn’t causing us to sink into the gutter fast enough)

Its worth taking note of something here, though. The court correctly ruled that it isn’t a crime, but did not act to protect the teacher from being fired.

I’m not sure it should be a crime, as the eighteen year old has reached the age of consent, but it is most definitely professional misconduct, and should get the teacher fired.

There are a lot of things, though, that will get you fired but are not criminal. This appears to be one of them. The mere fact that the court ruled this to not be criminal does not mean that the court ruled that teachers sleeping with their students is fine and dandy.

In that the teacher did not have sex with a minor, he is not guilty of that particular crime, but a student/teacher relationship is inherently unequal and valid consent is more than questionable. An employer would be sued into poverty, a doctor would be stripped of his license. Firing isn’t nearly enough. He took advantage of his position of trust.

Hirschfelder has not been able to work as a teacher since late 2006, when he was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the school board. He was arrested and charged in spring 2007, after a former choir student told police she had a monthslong affair with him that began shortly before she graduated.

His case did not go to trial because it was stayed pending the appeals court ruling, Hill said. He has been tuning pianos to make ends meet.

Grays Harbor County Prosecutor Stew Menefee did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press, but he told The Daily World newspaper of Aberdeen that he would consider appealing to the state Supreme Court.

Some state legislators are set on changing the law. On Monday, six state representatives introduced legislation that would make it a crime punishable by a mandatory minimum of five years in prison for a teacher to have sex with a student up to age 21, as long as the teacher is five years older than the student and at the same school.


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