This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," June 13, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight: Off limits? She's a 2002 Texas beauty queen and a high school Spanish teacher. He is one of her students. The twist? The student's 18, past the age of consent.
Joining us from Dallas, Texas, is Crystal Forrester, the community editor for The Carrolton Leader. Crystal, you've got a teacher who was arrested May 25. Why was she arrested?
CRYSTAL FORRESTER, CARROLTON LEADER: She was charged with improper relationships with her students. It's a new type of law. It was passed in 2003, and it makes it a felony for a teacher to sleep — to have sexual relations with their students.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. How old is she, and how old is the student?
FORRESTER: She is 25 and he is 18. And the relationship — I'm sorry.
VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead.
FORRESTER: The relationship — the police (INAUDIBLE) say the relationship started in February and has gone on since then.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is the 18-year-old saying they had a relationship?
FORRESTER: Yes. According to the police statements, he said that they had sexual intercourse at her apartment numerous times. She denies that, according to the police statements.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any evidence to corroborate what he says?
FORRESTER: The investigation started whenever a student went to the school resource officer, saying that they had seen improper text messaging on the teacher's phone and they were of an intimate nature. And the teacher allowed the police to look at her phone, and they did see those text messages and did confirm that they were of a flirtatious manner. And she — in the police record, did say that they were having an improper relationship, but they had not had sexual intercourse.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So that outside of her statement about the inappropriate relationship, no sexual intercourse, the flirtatious e-mails, you've got an 18-year-old saying it happened, and she denies it.
FORRESTER: Yes, ma'am.
VAN SUSTEREN: Has she been formally charged?
FORRESTER: No, they are still waiting on a grand jury indictment. The district attorney's office has asked for more phone and computer records. And that's where they are right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Was he actually a student in her class, or a student at the school?
FORRESTER: I believe he was a student in her class.
VAN SUSTEREN: And how long has she been teaching at this school?
FORRESTER: This is her first year at the school. And...
VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead. Sorry.
FORRESTER: She had actually put in her resignation before the investigation even started, that this — she — the last day of school would be her last day with the district.
VAN SUSTEREN: Any idea why she was resigning?
FORRESTER: She was taking another job with a different district.
VAN SUSTEREN: But otherwise, she wants to remain in teaching, as far as you know.
FORRESTER: As far as I know, yes, ma'am.
VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of reaction in the community, what are the parents, what are the people in the community saying?
FORRESTER: I'm kind of getting mixed reaction. A lot of people are saying, you know, He's 18, it's consenting. And then you also have the student-teacher power, you know, that kind of stuff. So it's kind of a mixed opinion.
VAN SUSTEREN: Crystal, thank you.
FORRESTER: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: A 2003 law in Texas was written, making it illegal for students to have sex with their teachers, but what if the student is 18 years old? Representative Warren Chisum joins us now by phone from Pampa (ph), Texas. Representative, what is the state of the law in Texas?
WARREN CHISUM, R-TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, the state of the law is that school employees — not just teachers, but any employee of the school district, whether it be a private school or a public school, cannot have sexual relations with their students.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any age — I know that when the law was first proposed there was some suggestion that it should be for someone — the students 17 or under. The final state of the law, though, doesn't have that age distinction, right?
CHISUM: That's right. I took that out by an amendment because I didn't want to have open season on 18-year-olds, and some of the children going to school are even older than that. You know, and school is not optional, so this is not like voting or going to the military or something like that. You have to go to school to get a high school diploma in the state of Texas, and it's not optional. And the teachers should have to be — I mean, the parents ought to be able to trust the teachers.
VAN SUSTEREN: What kind of penalty is affixed to this statute?
CHISUM: It's a second-degree felony, which is up to 20 years. But that — you know, that's the maximum. It could be less.
VAN SUSTEREN: What provoked this statute in the first place? Was there an incident in Texas?
CHISUM: Well, you know, there's been a lot of activity around in the state of Texas, and of course, some cases that's (INAUDIBLE) like Letourneau and them. I mean, it's just something that — we had an ethics code that teachers swore to the ethics code that forbid that, but there was no penalty for them doing it. And we decided that we needed to put a penalty in there for them having a sexual relationship with their students.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's been the reaction, sir, since this story broke that she was arrested? What have you been hearing in your office?
CHISUM: Well, I've been hearing, you know, the same thing you're hearing. Some are for it and some are against it. But you know, they did a poll — I believe it was The Dallas Morning News did a poll, and it was in favor of the bill as it's written and the law, and there should be a restriction on employees of the school district having sexual relations with their children. I think this would be been a lot worse had it been a male teacher and a female student.
VAN SUSTEREN: Any idea, if you're the judge on this case, and if — and I say "if" because she hasn't been proven guilty — but if turned out that, indeed, she had violated the statute, what kind of sentence would you give her?
CHISUM: Well, I'd certainly see that she did some jail time. That's for sure. Probably not 20 years, but I mean, it — you know, I would make sure that she — that she made an example of this so that it didn't happen again.
VAN SUSTEREN: Representative Chisum, thank you, sir.
CHISUM: Yes, ma'am.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let's bring in the panel. Joining us in San Francisco, former assistant DA Jim Hammer. In Washington, criminal defense attorneys Bernie Grimm and Ted Williams, both of which — I don't know what Jim was doing, but Ted and Bernie were both shaking their heads no through this.
Bernie, what are you shaking your head no about?
BERNIE GRIMM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the — the — well, let me — I had too many adjectives in my mind. Then I realized I was on TV and I couldn't use them.
GRIMM: The politician that we just spoke to, you know, amended the law. Twenty years is the message for a woman who's 25 years old.
VAN SUSTEREN: She's not going to get 20 years!
GRIMM: She's not going to get 20 years...
VAN SUSTEREN: He's not even asking for 20 years. I mean, what...
GRIMM: But asking for jail time for a woman who's having sex with a consenting adult, for a young man who could be going to war within a year, is out of this world! It can only happen in...
VAN SUSTEREN: You know what? You know what?
GRIMM: ... the great state of Texas!
VAN SUSTEREN: You know what, Bernie? Surprisingly, I don't agree with you.
GRIMM: Yes, but...
VAN SUSTEREN: It's, like, what part of it...
GRIMM: I'm not...
VAN SUSTEREN: What part of it doesn't a teacher get?
JIM HAMMER, FORMER ASST. SAN FRANCISCO DA: You want jail, Greta?
VAN SUSTEREN: It shouldn't be — no, I'm not saying jail, but...
HAMMER: You want jail?
VAN SUSTEREN: ... what part of it — I'm not saying jail, but I mean, what part doesn't a teacher get that you shouldn't have sex with a student?
GRIMM: Greta, I'll tell you, I have a son in high school. I do not want him having sex with any of his teachers at all. It should be dealt with in-house, administratively. And I agree with you...
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you mean by administratively? What...
GRIMM: Fire the teacher. Don't send them to prison! My God!
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, apparently, it's a little bit of an epidemic!
GRIMM: But the problem is — I agree with you. It sends the wrong message to students and other teachers, if it happens. It should be wrong...
VAN SUSTEREN: You want...
GRIMM: ... and everybody gets fired, but my God, a jail term for consenting adults?
VAN SUSTEREN: I didn't — I didn't say jail. I mean, I...
GRIMM: But it carries a jail term.
TED WILLIAMS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Greta...
VAN SUSTEREN: It carries a jail — I didn't say...
WILLIAMS: Bernie is 100 percent right. Listen, there's a dichotomy between a moral obligation and a criminal obligation. Under the circumstances...
VAN SUSTEREN: The law is plain here!
WILLIAMS: No, well, the law should be rewritten because...
HAMMER: The law's wrong!
WILLIAMS: ... the thing about it is...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, then she should move to a different state!
WILLIAMS: Eighteen-year-olds can go to war and die for this country.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, as student in high school!
WILLIAMS: And he's an A student. Then you fire the teacher. You brand her. You make sure she never works as a teacher again...
VAN SUSTEREN: He's going to be branded! He's going to be branded!
WILLIAMS: ... but you don't send her to jail or him to jail under this scenario of circumstances.
VAN SUSTEREN: I didn't necessarily say...
WILLIAMS: This is...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... say that you send her to jail, but I just don't get — what part doesn't a teacher get?
WILLIAMS: You don't criminalize this!
VAN SUSTEREN: It's like a very senior in a company having sex with a — you know, with a very junior person.
WILLIAMS: If you can show that a grade...
HAMMER: I think...
WILLIAMS: ... something is...
VAN SUSTEREN: That is different. They're both adults, then.
WILLIAMS: It's sexual harassment. I handle those cases all the time.
VAN SUSTEREN: Strike that from the record. All right, Jim?
HAMMER: I think you were a Catholic school teacher in a former life, Greta.
HAMMER: But that's beside the point. I think there's some middle line, Greta, between the summer of love in San Francisco in 19 — what was it, '68 or '70? I was a little kid — and the Taliban in Afghanistan. There's something in the middle. But there is this thing called privacy. And if you're an 18-year-old man, as my two good friends here have said, and you go off and die for this country, then you have a right to have sex (INAUDIBLE)
VAN SUSTEREN: He's not being — he's not being charged! Wait a second! He's not being charged!
HAMMER: No, but Greta...
VAN SUSTEREN: I understand that!
HAMMER: It takes away his — but Greta, here's my point. It takes away his right to make a decision without...
VAN SUSTEREN: Wait until graduation.
HAMMER: ... criminalizing somebody else.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why not — why not wait until graduation?
HAMMER: In the words — listen...
VAN SUSTEREN: She's the one being charged! She's the one being charged!
HAMMER: And I agree. And in the words of Donald Trump...
VAN SUSTEREN: And — and when you send your kids...
HAMMER: ... you're fired. That's the answer.
VAN SUSTEREN: When you send your kid to school, you're expecting it's going to be a professional...
HAMMER: I'm the toughest of all, Greta, on teachers sleeping with a 15-year-old boy...
WILLIAMS: ... at 18, you're a grown-up. You're consenting.
HAMMER: He's 18. Exactly.
WILLIAMS: That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm not disputing the fact that he's 18. He's not the one being charged. She's the one being charged!
WILLIAMS: And that's the problem with this. She's being charged.
HAMMER: I think, Greta, you should get a ruler...
HAMMER: I think Greta should get a ruler and knock...
HAMMER: ... and knock this teacher on her knuckles and then send her on her way.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm anxious to see the e-mails on this. Maybe I'm wrong...
HAMMER: I think it's wrong! I think it's wrong! She should be fired. It's not a crime. That's...
WILLIAMS: Absolutely. I agree with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: I did not say that she necessarily should go to jail, but I'm not sure she should be teaching in a school.
GRIMM: I don't know. I had a crush on my teacher, but it happened to be Sister Noelle (ph) in the 5th grade, so I couldn't do anything about it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Can we not go there with that crush?
VAN SUSTEREN: For some reason...
GRIMM: I don't know what was under the habit, but she looked great.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think this is a discussion for the commercial break.
WILLIAMS: That's the problem I have. Fire her, get her out of the school system, brand her, make sure she never practices as a teacher again, but do not criminalize this!
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, for some reason...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... it's a little bit to me like sort of like the military fraternizing with — with people that — I don't know. A teacher shouldn't be having sex with a student. I don't know...
HAMMER: We agree!
HAMMER: We agree!
WILLIAMS: The water you're drinking, we're drinking the same water. We agree with you, but we're saying that it shouldn't be a criminal case!
VAN SUSTEREN: No, I'm saying that I don't necessarily think she should go to jail, but I think something — anyway, all right, panel...
HAMMER: You want probation?
VAN SUSTEREN: Clearly, I need to talk to these three guys off camera because I need to teach them some (INAUDIBLE)
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