Teacher ’sexting’ protected under right to free speech

Teachers are caught having inappropriate relationships with students almost daily, it seems.

Some teachers accused of sending sexual text messages to students may be protected by “the right to free speech,” reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“It’s OK for adults to talk dirty to children,” said Houston defense attorney Mark Bennett, who successfully defended a choir director who sent sexually explicit messages to a minor.

Bennett seems to be confusing the term “OK” with “not illegal.”

In court, Bennett argued Texas’ “sexting” law is too broad because “simple profanity or vulgarity — not rising to the level of obscenity — is constitutionally protected speech.”

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled sexual expression that is indecent but not obscene is protected by the First Amendment, and includes sexually explicit literature such as 50 Shades of Grey and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, as well as Miley Cyrus’ “twerking” during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, writes the Star-Telegram.

State prosecutors said “perverts will be free to bombard our children with salacious emails and text messages” because of the ruling.

I suspect Texas lawmakers will soon rewrite the law, but many teachers who’ve been convicted of crimes under the 2005 legislation may now be able to appeal their sentences.

Charges against a 30-year-old teacher who sent 688 text messages to a 13-year-old girl in six days were recently dismissed. In that case, the junior high teacher discussed descriptions of sexual preferences and fantasies. He was initially charged with online solicitation of a minor, which was later changed to improper relationship between an educator and student, but now all charges have been dropped. The teacher is no longer with the school system but maintains his teaching certificate.

Texas lawmakers seem disgusted by the court’s decision, which may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The purpose of the First Amendment was to allow political dissent, not to allow adults to be vulgar with minors,” said Rep. Bill Zedler.

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23 comments Add your comment

jarvis

February 25th, 2014
9:50 am

Totally effed.

Fred ™

February 25th, 2014
9:58 am

February 14th, 2014 11:58 am
Sorry Geezer, that boat has sailed lol. I got married without ever meeting the nasty old witch, or her crappy weak dad. Her dad finally died but unfortunately the old hag lives on.

Bendaho

February 25th, 2014
10:08 am

The bar has been lowered once again for deviant behavior. They should hand out get out of jail free cards to the parents of the children who get these text from perv teachers. That way they can confront the teacher one on one in a dark alley.

Maude

February 25th, 2014
10:42 am

I am all for free speech but this has crossed the line. Texting about sex to a minor should be against the law. Yeah sure it is okay between two adults when both like it. As adults if one party does not like what is being sent they are mature enough to say no more and block all communication with the other party. Kids do not have that maturity especailly to someone they look up to and have been taught to trust.

The Geezer

February 25th, 2014
10:50 am

In my opinion any teachers that are caught having inappropriate relationships with students should be taken into custody and not allowed to bond out. Let the other inmates know about their sexual interests in children.

Even if the teacher gets off on a technicality later on, they will have already been appropriately punished for their behavior.

Bill Clinton

February 25th, 2014
11:17 am

I totally agree with the teacher!
I avoided jail more than once!

Anthony Weiner

February 25th, 2014
11:18 am

I think all Democrats would oppose changes to this law.

Mark W. Bennett

February 25th, 2014
11:20 am

George,

You’re right, I should have said “not illegal” or, better, “Constitutionally protected.”

I’m surprised that I said “OK.”

MB

OneRyder

February 25th, 2014
11:35 am

…let me guess, white guy? Yup. …so where’s all the racial comments at? LOL. Now the division is “political”..

TBone

February 25th, 2014
11:53 am

So it’s ok to seduce minors as a matter of free speech but don’t dispute the pagan religion of global warming, it’ll be off with your head.

Bendaho

February 25th, 2014
12:28 pm

I wonder if male educators receive a N.A.M.B.L.A certificate when they get their teaching certificate?

coj

February 25th, 2014
12:45 pm

Since Texas discriminates and screws a large portion of it’s population, I’m not surprised.

Bumper

February 25th, 2014
1:29 pm

“It’s OK for adults to talk dirty to children,” said Houston defense attorney…”

The old joke about “5,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean” comes to mind.

TheTruth

February 25th, 2014
1:30 pm

You’re an embarrassment; to sit on your high throne an implicate teachers in “daily” inappropriate relationships with students. I by no means defend the law that you wrote about, but it is this kind of “daily” attack on teachers that I can simply not tolerate. We work hard, for long hours with little pay and oftentimes sacrifice personal and family time to do so. However, this is not considered “News to You,” instead you join the long line of writers who blatantly disrespect my profession. Here is some news to consider; your colleagues have strayed so far from the original intent of journalism that radio pranks quickly become national news because the basics on your job (validating sources) seems to troublesome.

The Geezer

February 25th, 2014
2:12 pm

The Truth – that’s “too troublesome” Teach grammar?

George Mathis

February 25th, 2014
2:30 pm

The Truth – No offense against you or the teaching profession, which is a tough one for sure. But if you can’t find a daily story about teachers acting inappropriately you are not looking. There’s a lot of teachers, and if even 0.1 percent of them are bad, that’s a lot of bad news stories.

partlycloudy

February 25th, 2014
2:51 pm

No it’s not OK for teachers to sext students. And it’s not free speech. IN law school at UGA, my best friend and I used the “freedom of sexual expression” theory to win a few rounds in motto court competition, until the professors and 3rd year guys realized that the 2 women in the case weren’t afraid of sex cases, so they switched us to a dull contracts argument.
Freedom of sexual expression involves adults, not minors.

Bosstone

February 25th, 2014
3:14 pm

Actually, Partly…it is precisely free speech according to the Court of Appeals in Texas…which, to this point, is good law in Texas. ;) Maybe I will see ya around in a couple of years. Good luck with the rest of school.

Hidden Agenda

February 25th, 2014
6:26 pm

The Chik-fil-A cows are deeply upset about one of your stories George. They apparently have changed their slogan to F*** Mor Chikin.

Hidden Agenda

February 25th, 2014
6:30 pm

George, you comment to The Truth is spot on. Add to that other stories about other goings on at schools – arrests of 5 year olds for hugging, biting lunch meat into the shape of a gun, etc., tasering of elementary school kids by school “resource officers”, so much violence, so much sex (even between 5 year olds (recent story), and one can only wonder how parents can willingly ship their kids off to these institutions on a daily basis. I mean at least with a private business you have recourse and their employees are not deemed to be above the law.

Jack ®

February 25th, 2014
7:00 pm

I’m very glad I don’t have a 13-year-old daughter.

Honestly

February 26th, 2014
6:41 pm

Don’t know where you’ve been, but daughters are not the only ones you have to protect. Sons are at risk too.

AzCat

February 28th, 2014
9:19 am

What is motto court? I’ve heard of moot court but motto court? Do you have Speedy Alka Seltzer arguring commercial slogan and jingle disputes with Erin Esurance?