Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Knocking Up Teacher

Melissa Pamer and Tony Shin at NBC’s Los Angeles O & O has this story which has been all over the news around here:
A Redlands high school teacher accused of having a baby allegedly fathered by a teen student pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 41 counts of sex and oral copulation with a minor.

Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst, 28, was arrested July 1 after the mother of a Citrus Valley High student contacted school officials about the suspected relationship between her son and the English teacher.

She was charged Monday with crimes alleged to have involved the boy -- who was 16 when the relationship began, according to police -- and two other teen students who are now adults.
Later:
Authorities said Whitehurst had given birth June 18 to a baby fathered by the student with whom she had had a nearly year-long affair. The boy attended the baby’s birth, according to court documents.
Later:
Then, at least two other men came forward and said they had had sexual relations with Whitehurst in 2007 and 2008.

One of the alleged victims spoke to NBC4 Southern California, saying he never felt victimized but wanted to share his story so that others might come forward to tell police about their experiences with Whitehurst.
Finally:
Whitehurst is charged with 30 counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, and 11 counts of oral copulation of a person under 18.

If convicted as charged, Whitehurst could face up to 29 years in state prison, the District's Attorney's Office said.

So there's yet another criminal case that's hit the news lately about a young female teacher "having sex" with multiple minor male students. Unless the teacher is decidedly unattractive (this latest one isn't), one of the common responses to this is along the lines of:

"That shouldn't be a crime."
"So what's the problem?"
"Where were teachers like this when I was in school?"
"Those boys enjoyed every minute of it."


I understand where some of that is coming from. I've written about being with an older woman when still a teenager. However, I was legally an adult, and I was a relatively responsible 19 year-old at that.

While people joke about this, it is a serious matter. Switch the sexes. Would people be joking the same way if it was a male teacher and female minor students? No. If this woman is guilty (and remember, she's legally innocent until proven guilty in a court of law) she’s a predator. If the police/prosecutors are right, this isn’t a one-time drunken mistake. This is a pattern of ongoing behavior with multiple victims.

That brings me to one of the reasons why she must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law: 

E-Q-U-A-L-I-T-Y. 

Yes, that’s right. We have been told for generations now that women need to/should be treated exactly the same as men. More recently, we have been told by activists and judges and academics and politicians that there really isn’t a difference between men and women and they are interchangeable. So we have to consider this as serious and detrimental and creepy and nonconsensual and whatever else as it would be for a male teacher to do this with minor female students. Or, if a female did this with a female.

Please. Spare me the protests about the differences in emotions and biology and sociology of boys and girls. That’s just your outdated, sexist, patriarchal thinking.

Let’s get into why this is wrong and damaging, morality about fornication aside.

1) Risk of pregnancy. In this case, she actually got pregnant at least once. She could have aborted the child, which may have caused distress for the boy. Instead, she delivered the child, causing a whole other set or problems. Imagine the distraction the kid who is the biological father endured while the teacher was pregnant throughout an entire school year. Who is going to raise this child? Will the statutory rape victim be forced to pay child support, as we have seen in other cases? Will this child have a present mother and father? If the victim plays any role in raising the child, it is going to have a limiting effect on his educational, professional, and social life, all of which should be entering into a critical time over the next several years. Whether he raises the child or not, There will now be women who will not consider him as a partner/spouse due to him having a child, and any child he has in the future will have a half-sibling who may or may not be in their life. (We can’t let homosexual adults off the hook in this area, though, because according to SCOTUS, there is no difference between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples, so we have to include the risk of pregnancy with them, too.)

2) Risk of STDs. In addition to the health concerns, there are social concerns here.

3) Stigma. Everyone in their communities now knows that these boys were involved in this. What will be the reactions of girls their ages? Of the parents of those girls? Do you think a lot of parents are going to welcome these boys taking their daughters out?

4) Risk of jealous adults. If the teacher in cases like this is married, has a boyfriend, or is being pursued by a jealous man significantly older than the students, the students are put at risk for violence.

5) Confusing of boundaries. Something like this makes it more difficult for the minors to generally maintain normal, healthy relations and boundaries with adults and peers, especially with educators. Cases like this poison the climate of educator-student relationships in general.

6) Abuse of power, trust, and access. She is an authority figure to whom minors were entrusted.

7) Favoritism. Whether there was actual favoritism or suspected, the credibility of the students’ academic achievements is doubted.

8) Sexual confusion. Sex is supposed to be something enjoyable and something in which someone can trust their partner and “let go” but sexual assault, especially if it is molestation or statutory rape, can involve some pleasurable feelings along with the negative. This often diminishes the victim’s enjoyment of sex as an adult.

For these reasons, this is a serious matter.

As the article notes, at least one of the boys isn’t complaining. There are minors who experience statutory rape, whether with an authority figure or not, who never have complaints about it and never feel like or consider themselves victims. In at least one high profile case, the male victim married his abuser after she got out of prison. According to this, they’ve been married for eight years now.

That’s no reason to avoid prosecution in these cases, if for no other reason than some boys do consider themselves victims and still others come to realize they were years down the line, especially when they reach the age their abuser was and/or they have children the age they were when they were abused.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are many more victims in this current case and some aren’t coming forward, either because they feel like it was, on the whole, a positive or neutral experience, or, if negative, that they don’t want to deal with the police and courts and the attention.

I also suspect there are many, many more female teachers doing stuff like this out there who haven’t been busted and never will be. Whether they become teachers solely or in part to give them such access or whether they simply take advantage of the situation once they are there, it has to be happening. It is possible this criminal case wouldn’t have existed at all had she not given birth and had the biological grandmother not turned her in.

One of my serious girlfriends in my wayward youth was a young teacher who had quite the body, but she didn’t think well of it. She started out teaching middle school but quickly switched to high school. While at the middle school, some of the female students accused her of deliberately flaunting her breasts, which I knew wasn’t true. However, she could only do so much to hide them. They were perfect DDs, after all. No doubt, the middle school girls were jealous. While she did not have a mindset that would ever lead to involvement with a student, there are many people who do.

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