General Assembly
5:27 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Changes to Virginia Sex Offender Laws Being Discussed

A high school student turns 18, and he thinks it's "cool" for his 25-year-old substitute teacher to be hitting on him. A relationship ensues, he brags about it, and his parents are appalled—but did the substitute commit a crime?  The Virginia State Crime Commission is drafting legislation to address that—and one member says there's a lot to consider on a delicate issue.

Listen to Tommie McNeil's report.

Some argue that a lot of state laws label a person as a sex offender upon conviction. But one scenario could involve when two high school students are acquainted---with two years separating them.  The older graduates but returns as a substitute, and rekindles the relationship with the younger. Should that be illegal?  Delegate Rob Bell explains that even if the high-schooler is 18, the elder is in such a position that their consent may not qualify.

Bell says most parents would object to that kind of relationship, so the commission is working on crafting a criminal statute that is fair, makes sense, and protects the student’s best interests. Right now, such a relationship is illegal in Virginia when students are less than age 18.  But at least 11 states have made it illegal for school personnel to have consensual relations with 18-year-old students.