Consent question murkier in second Cobb teacher/student romance

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?

41 comments Add your comment

just one little question

December 31st, 2009
10:31 am

“but there are the rare instances where the relationships lead to marriage.”

There are also rare cases wher women fall in love with their rapists’. Be for real sheese!


December 31st, 2009
10:51 am

I also have known instances of both male student teachers and male teachers getting involved with their female high school students and eventually marrying (BTW – didn’t last).

The rule should be that ANY romantic contact before age 21 between a student and teacher is reason for instant termination, and involvement at any age shouldn’t be allowed if the student is in the instructor’s class. Some of the worst cases are on college campuses, so this should include college professors too!

Uncle Commode

December 31st, 2009
10:58 am

In Sweden the legal age of consent is 12. Suffice to say the Swedes are a much more advanced society than we here in the West.


December 31st, 2009
11:02 am

Why is she just now parrotting what her parents are saying. Could it be, they have had two years to work on her to say what they want. I am sure the parents don’t like the fact their precious baby girl is actually grown up and having sex, but that does not mitigate that what the teacher did is not against the law. You don’t have to like it but you know a lot of stuff I don’t like is not against the law. Its just another example of Pat Head grabbing the headlines and waisting tax payer money. I beliece the nonsense of the teacher grooming this one particular girl for 3 full years to be his paramour. That I believe is complete fabrication or justification on the girls parents for her actions. The parents need to accept that their daughter and this teacher did nothing more than what is natural. It was consensual, noone has said she was forced and only the parents are saying she was coerced. IF YOU WANT TO ACT LIKE AN ADULT THEN TAKE RESPONSIBILITY LIKE AN ADULT.

Uncle Commode

December 31st, 2009
11:07 am

Agreed Badger!

If anything its the parents who should be jailed for endangering their “innocent little girl” as they wanted it to happen infact begged for it to happen all in the hope their “precious cargo” would excel more so than the other students.

Arrest the parents!!

jim d

December 31st, 2009
11:18 am

flip a coin on this one because the truth may never be known.


December 31st, 2009
11:21 am

Commode your name says it all and what you are filled with. Looks like you are one of those people who think any time something bad happens to you its everyone elses fault. Of course you had nothing to do with it. Just like the parents. It was all that big bad teachers fault. Their precious baby girl walking around in her halo had no culpability at all. Wait a big word could have been used. Do you not what that word is? You don’t do you? Well heres a little insight the word is NO. The girl could have used that word in the beginning and then if something happend this would be an appropriate case for the court.

jim d

December 31st, 2009
11:27 am

I do question the sudden epithany two years after the fact. Was she really that dumb?

jim d

December 31st, 2009
11:29 am

epiphany ——my bad


December 31st, 2009
11:31 am

I think the adults here are the teachers. The children, whether by state law are of an age to consent or not, don’t think too far ahead of the consequences of their adult actions. The teachers should not be allowed to have a romantic or sexual relationship with any of their students, EVER!. Their job is to teach the subject they have studied in college and are paid to teach and help the students go on to technical schools or college. That is the extent of their expertise.


December 31st, 2009
11:37 am

Not saying I disagree with you me but it still remains it is not against the law to have sex with someone over the age of consent as long as it is consensual.

Full of it

December 31st, 2009
12:12 pm

Based on the case law established in the media on behalf of Genarlow Wilson (and subsequently validated by the Supreme Court) the teacher has not violated any ethical or legal statutes. The burden is now on the accuser to prove lack of consent/coercion as well as kidnapping or false imprisonment.


December 31st, 2009
12:12 pm

Yank the teaching license, sure. But rely on new testimony to the contrary of past texts, emails, etc; and jail this man for this sexual relationship? No.

This girl was discovered and shamed by her parents. Now she says there was coercion. How convenient. The assertion that these kinds of relationships should be discouraged is true. They should be discouraged and are with the yanking of teaching licenses and termination of employment. However, to discourage by imprisoning someone for a relationship that is otherwise legal is reprehensible.


December 31st, 2009
12:22 pm

We really need a law concerning student-teacher sex. It should be illegal, period.

And maybe it’s just me, but if you think 34 year old teacher banging a 17 year old student is “natural” you may need help.

Consent or not

December 31st, 2009
12:34 pm

This is just another case of “he said, she said.” As much as I respect “no means no,” I’m not sure how a court can decide if a woman, this particular student included, just didn’t change her story because she now regrets, or even detest, the experience? This seems to be a no-win situation.

jim d

December 31st, 2009
12:35 pm

I’d be willing to bet she’d hook up with him now if she had the opportunity——teens tend to confuse love with sex.


December 31st, 2009
12:40 pm



December 31st, 2009
12:41 pm

Yeah, I’m sure she told her parents the truth. Wink, wink.


December 31st, 2009
12:42 pm

Parkman is charged with sexual assault against a PERSON IN CUSTODY.

I don’t know how to emphasize that any more. A teacher is in a custodial relationship with the students in their care and as a result, are in a position to exert undue influence upon them. It should NEVER be accepted behavior to allow intimate contact between the two.

Personally, I think Dad should have taken a ball bat to the pervert and been done with it.


December 31st, 2009
2:05 pm

Consent or not, a teacher should be teaching and a 34 year old teacher should not be viewing his students as sexual conquest. A teacher has authority and power over students, I know at 17, I looked up to my teachers and was a little in awe and a little afraid, it would have been quite east to start, at 9th grade, to groom me to have a realtionship in the 12th grade. Also, please stop saying 2 years, the report is over the last 4-5 months, that the sexual relationship started. If you ever read or watched the news, many girls (and boys) are abused for years before they report it so stop being surprised, she probably had no idea what was going on at 12 or 13 until at 17 it happened.


December 31st, 2009
2:28 pm

As a teacher this is a NO-Brainer. No teacher having sex with a student. A person in authority should never, can never, consort with those under them. It is gross and should be illegal.

Vote For Pedro

December 31st, 2009
2:51 pm

He supposedly prepped her for TWO YEARS and the parents didn’t weigh in before anything happened? I blame the parents 100%.

c'mon, folks, teacher/student sex is WRONG

December 31st, 2009
3:08 pm

Male teacher had sex with a student IN HIS MUSIC PROGRAM; who cares how long it took for the charges to be filed? MAYBE the parents stink and MAYBE the li’l girl is mildly exaggerating some of the information she gave to police; bottom line, though, is a teacher who engages in sexual activity with a student is in violation of both law & professional ethics. Where is the murkiness in this case?

Consent or not

December 31st, 2009
3:34 pm

Lee seems to suggest that the charge, “sexual assault against a PERSON IN CUSTODY,” applies to teacher-student situation. The law specifically states that consent isn’t relevant for this charge. So, how is this case different from the other one? Was the student in the other case not in custody? What exactly constitutes “custody” in a school setting? Does a student have to be enrolled in the teacher’s class or a club for which the teacher is a faculty sponsor/coach? Is it ok for a 34-year old teacher to have a relationship with 17-year old student in the same school but not in his/her class? What about the principal and a teacher?


December 31st, 2009
3:44 pm

I don’t think the question revolves around age of consent as much as it does around professional ethics. Being a retired teacher myself, I think each teacher should take it upon him/herself to always act in a professional manner toward all students. Having an in-appropriate relationship with a student should never be a choice a teacher should make, whether the student is above the age of consent or the relationship is consensual. IMHO, it is/should be a measure of one’s professionalism in performing the duties of any job.


December 31st, 2009
5:10 pm

I find it interesting that she was sent to BYU (or chose to go). Are her parents trying to get her purity back? Or brainwash her more?

I sure am glad she’s getting counseling. She’ll need all the support she can get.


December 31st, 2009
5:27 pm

Where was this girls parents when she was having sex with this man? This is about more than just a sexual affair between a teacher and student, but why were her parents oblivious to her actions? That said, the teacher should be ashamed of himself and he does sicken me! He is old enough to be her father, and worse yet, so pathetic that he cannot get a woman his own age. Moreover, the young girl…while is an alleged victim of a crime, what about using common sense and telling an authority such as another teacher, or the principal about the Orchestra teacher’s advances from the start?!


December 31st, 2009
6:10 pm

Yeah, what Shan said.

Really interesting to me that she is going to BYU now. Are they trying to get her purity back?


December 31st, 2009
6:39 pm

Any teacher needs to RUN when a student seems to be cozying up to him/her. Don’t let yourself get in that position (heh heh)–doors open, enlist other teachers to monitor, perhaps talk to the principal about the situation and solicit (heh heh) advice. You have GOT to be the aware adult. Your life can be ruined by a charge of sexual malfeasance.

and may I add to catlady's post...

December 31st, 2009
7:17 pm

…charge being the operative word. He may not have done anything improper. He has been charged not convicted. Oh, and his resignation doesn’t make him look an more guilty to me. We all know how that works in Georgia schools.


December 31st, 2009
7:39 pm

“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.”

Then in MARCH she just couldn’t take it anymore??? MARCH. Don’t college applications get sent off before Christmas? Why blow the whistle from “all the pressure” in March when acceptance letters were already delivered? On top of that, I don’t know how things work at BYU but at UGA I applied to the fine arts program after my freshman and sophomore grades proved I was a serious student. My high school teachers were never consulted nor were their recommendations requested. I think these parents and this student might be F0S.


December 31st, 2009
8:11 pm

In the business world, sexual relationships between superiors and subordinate employees are frowned upon, because there is always the possibility of coercion. Same principle applies here, but more so, because the teacher is presumed to be the adult and the student is presumed to be a child, even though some students are well over the age of 18.

Ole Guy

December 31st, 2009
10:31 pm

Well, it’s starting to develop…complete anarchy within the school systems. The initial focus on these discussions…how to educate Little Johnny and Little Suzie…seems to have evolved into issues of personal deportment, both for the kids as well as the adults within the kids’ lives. What’s next…the Easter Bunny and Ms Clause doin the nasties on the town square at oh’dark thirty? To simply state that the educational establishment is going to hell in a handbasket is the gross understatement of the century. Many of my previous comments, regarding the myriad issues within this forum, have harkened back to an earlier era of adherence to a “militaryesq” form of governance, to which many have expressed degrees of disdain and disapproval. Unfortunately, the two recent events of student/teacher misconduct, while they may or may not typify the greater picture of the educational establishment within the state, and within the Country, do indeed paint a vivid portrait of a (not failing, but) failed system, one of near-total anarchy. It therefore becomes no surprise that, even within our society, outside the educational realm, this developing anarchy is evidenced almost daily. Where are the answers? I don’t know, but we had better start taking immediate AND DRASTIC measures PDQ! Otherwise, the same problems, and then some, will be there in the year 2010…HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Toto: exposing the perverts behind the curtain

January 1st, 2010
4:13 am

Tsk, tsk, Maureen.You’re not very pc. Why do you only pick on the heteros? Let’s not discriminate against the escapades of “Safe Schools Czar” Kevin Jennings…

Here we go again

January 1st, 2010
8:46 am

You can’t rape the willing. Just because this female reconsidered her involvement with an older guy should not turn a consensual relationship into a criminal one. Bimbos have used the rape card way too often as a means to reestablish their virtue and self esteem.


January 1st, 2010
10:13 pm

I’m with ScienceTeacher671; in the business world, the relationship between supervisor and subordinate would not be tolerated. And for all those who are decrying the age difference between the two, how come you don’t speak up when it’s a 49 year old man and a 32 year old woman? Hmmmm then it’s an old guy scoring a hot girl so that’s ok right? Really????


January 2nd, 2010
5:01 pm

I read the state legislature is going to outlaw sex between teachers and students. I wonder if they will outlaw sex between legislators and any group, like lobbyists?


January 4th, 2010
10:54 am

Cricket, I don’t know any students who’ve recently applied before their senior year to college – there’s just too much competition for any decent school now. There are also several waves of acceptances (Early / Normal/ Late/ Waitlist) – I know many in the last class’s honor roll did not know until May. A couple months, especially over the holidays, is not very long to change one’s mind on giving into such coercion.


January 4th, 2010
11:03 am

I don’t know if she was applying to BYU originally – but their application deadline is Feb 1st and replies 4 weeks later, so the timing is actually right in line with that, and it looks like it requires 3 letters of recommendation and some sort of review form, though it’s hard to tell much without registering and everything – they don’t post just a blank copy anywhere I see.

Face the Music

January 7th, 2010
12:50 am

The facts are friendly…….ask an expert if Parkman did not groom his victims. Read for yourself!!!!

Many people think that child molesters are strange men or women who hide in bushes and snatch unsuspecting kids off the streets. But in truth, a child is much more likely to be molested by someone he or she knows.

Before the molestation takes place, the perpetrator goes to great lengths to cement his or her relationship with the child to insure compliance. This behavior is called “grooming.” According to INTERPOL, “The majority of sex offenders groom their victims.”

In his publication, “Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis,” former FBI agent Kenneth V. Lanning lays out five stages of the grooming process: 1) Identifying a possible victim(s), 2) Collecting information about the intended victim, 3) Filling a need, 4) Lowering inhibitions, and 5) Initiating the sexual abuse.

Read more at Suite101: How Pedophiles Groom Victims: A Predator May Be Targeting Your Child


January 21st, 2010
5:53 pm

Type “orchestra teacher arrested” into google and you get 347,000 hits.
Clearly something needs to be done.
There is no excuse for this pervert’s behavior.
There is an issue of sexual abuse irrespective of the consent issue due to the position of power over the student.
This kind of person should be castrated or worse.