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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