I am not sure why Cobb County has two high profile cases of teachers dating students, but the second case reported this week by the AJC appears markedly different than the one we discussed here a few weeks ago.
In the earlier case involving former Marietta High School teacher Christopher King, the female student took the stand during his trial to assert that the love affair was consensual and that she was not coerced in any way.
Given that Georgia law considered her old enough to consent to a relationship with a teacher, there wasn’t much the court could do except find him not guilty. (Please note that King is no longer at the school and had his teaching license yanked. The trial was a result of criminal charges brought by the Cobb DA. )
However, this second case seems far less forthright on the question of consent. Steven Parkman, a 34-year-old former orchestra teacher at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, faces five counts of sexual assault against a person in custody and four counts of sodomy for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student in 2008. He is expected to stand trial early next year.
The parents of the young woman allege coercion and their daughter will take the stand to confirm that. I realize that Parkman probably has e-mails, texts or notes that bolster his defense that the teenager was a willing partner, but her intention to testify otherwise makes this case quite different than King’s.
According to the AJC story:
The girl’s parents told the AJC that Parkman arranged to sit next to their daughter on out-of-town flights for orchestra competitions and arranged for hotel rooms near each other in her early years of high school. They say that after she began having sex with him during the winter of her senior year, he threatened to change her grades and give her a bad recommendation for college if she didn’t continue their relationship.
“He was telling her if she didn’t come over to the house and be with him, he would make her sorry for it and make sure she wouldn’t get into any college or university,” the father said.
At the time, the parents say, the girl was trying to go to college to become an orchestra teacher. They said she finally told her parents about the relationship in March, and they contacted the school principal and police. Parkman resigned in lieu of termination shortly before his April 14, 2008, arrest.
“He held her hostage to the point where she couldn’t handle it anymore, until she blew the whistle on the whole thing,” the father said.
The student now attends college 1,600 miles away at Brigham Young University. Her parents say she is seeking counseling and is taking off her spring 2010 semester to prepare for testifying at trial. She declined Wednesday to talk about the relationship with Parkman until after the trial is over, but stated that she agreed with everything her parents have said.
As we discussed, teachers and students represent a terrible romantic pairing for many obvious reasons and should be discouraged, but there are the rare instances where the relationships lead to marriage. (Several of us, including me, knew of such instances.) However, this one may led to jail.
What do you think?