Commission to study toughening child sex laws

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Investigators say school officials, including teachers, are having inappropriate relationships with students in far too many cases. Now, the State Crime Commission is looking to see if Virginia needs to toughen its laws.

This is a topic that has a lot of folks talking and they stand on both sides of the issue. It all centers around one question. Is any age appropriate to have sex with your teacher?

Former substitute teacher, Anna Michelle Walters had little to say earlier this year just before a judge found her guilty of having sex with an under-age student.

Walters is just one of a number of school officials arrested or convicted within the past year for inappropriate relationships with students.

"A teacher should keep it on a professional level, especially with a student," said Bryce Bradley.

"[As] long as they are 18, I don't see nothing wrong with it," Andre Johnson suggested.

Johnson's opinion is what saved Walters from facing even more charges after an 18-year-old claimed he too had sex with her. He said on Twitter she sent him racy photos, but the case was never prosecuted because in Virginia it's legal for people 18 or older to have sex.

"We have a teacher-student relationship. You do not have an equal position relative to the two individuals from a power standpoint," said Del. Manoli Loupassi.

He is working with the State Crime Commission to see if there needs to be some changes in the law. One concern he says is the idea that a teacher has authority over a student, no matter a student's age.

"That person could take advantage of the power they have and use it to get sexual favors or whatever so that's not a good thing," Loupassi added.

A field of experts will weigh in over the next several months before making recommendations to those who can actually change the law.

"We'll come up with something if we think we should," he said.

Some are asking, why wait?

"A teacher is supposed to be a teacher not a love companion," Bradley suggested.

Since the Crime Commission's recommendations generally have heavy weight on how lawmakers will vote, this topic could lead the way to much more debate in advance of the 2014 General Assembly.

Juvenile Court Prosecutor Duncan Minton handled Walter's case. He says he's not sure there needs to be a tougher law in situations like these, but says schools should develop and enforce their own policies surrounding relationships with students.

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