Should the law prohibit sex between people of consenting ages? The question is being debated in the case of Texas teacher Amy McElhenney, who could face a prison term for a relationship with an 18-year-old student under a three-year-old Texas law that criminalizes sex between educators and students, reports the Dallas Morning News. Some national TV news programs are focusing on the case. The law was introduced as applying only to students 17 and younger, but was amended to make it illegal for teachers to sleep with students of any age. A sponsor said that’s because teachers hold a certain amount of power over students, who aren’t in a position to consent even if they are old enough.
Last week, TV pundit Bill O’Reilly featured the case on his program. He told viewers that while he doesn’t think Ms. McElhenney should face jail time, the teacher-student relationship is a special one that deserves legal protection. A guest, defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, said it’s unfair to prosecute anyone for having sex with someone who is old enough to consent. “It’s a little harsh, even for Texas law,” Lichtman said. He said he doesn’t think legislators who create such laws think things through – especially the possible punishments.