Consensual Relationship a Crime?

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Today (see below) I have posted many e-mails about the 25-year-old female teacher arrested and charged with a crime: having sex with her student (who happens to be 18.) The story has generated much debate on our air and in our show e-mail account. (I even get debate about it when I get home at night!) The debate is quite extensive: Should this be a crime since the student is 18 years old? Should it be a felony or misdemeanor? Should it be used as a deterrent? Should she get time? Should she simply be fired, etc. See below — the e-mails — for your collective thoughts.

Last night we had a surprise guest... well, not totally a surprise. We learned at about 7 p.m. ET that Catherine Herridge was discharged from the hospital and could do a phoner with us. If you watched our show, you heard her very strong voice. As I have repeatedly noted, she is determined, as is her young son Peter. Of course, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center continues to be the big hero.

Tonight we will show you some recently shot video of Peter and Catherine — you don't want to miss this!

Since Peter will remain in the hospital for a few weeks, Catherine and her husband JD and their other son will spend more time in Pittsburgh. Peter is not yet "out of the woods," but the signs continue to be good ones. Each day we grow more confident, but, of course, we realize that this could change.

I have been asked by many where money donations can be made for OTHER families and children who may be in need of transplants. Here is the mailing address:

Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute
3708 Fifth Ave.
Suite 400
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

If you would like to make a donation on line by credit card, here is the Web site:

Note that above I wrote "money" donations — many of you have already agreed to be organ donors and these offers of donations are important. There are more people waiting for organs than there are organs. It is a bit dark to discuss since most donations mean the donor has died, but it remains important for the living. I know that when we renew our driver's license in Washington, D.C., we can elect to become donors and it is noted on our driver's licenses.

I spoke to Beth Holloway Twitty yesterday. Unfortunately there is no news in the case in Aruba. It seems to be at a complete stall… I hope I am wrong about this. Beth and Dave are still awaiting the decision out of the New York court about whether their civil suit against Joran van der Sloot will go forward or not. I have no idea about this one. I think the decision whether the judge throws it out or keeps it is a cliffhanger….

Now for some of you e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

I was unable to get to the computer last night during your show and the discussion re: teacher and 18-year-old student. I found myself agreeing with the guys and disagreeing with you. Imagine that!
Not a case that should be considered criminal. Fire the woman and get on with it.

E-mail No. 2

If he is of legal age he has the right to make up his own mind and it should not matter that she is a teacher. Same for the other way around: Legal age — stay out of their business. If it were a student nurse and a resident would we interfere? Or any other profession, for that matter? We have laws that are by age not by profession.
Judi Drayton
Comstock Park, MI

E-mail No. 3

Hi Greta,
I'm a little late weighing in on the teacher/student issue, but here in Georgia we've had this type of scenario come up and the county typically has its own investigators who conduct thorough investigations to determine if it's civil or criminal. State statute sets the standard for that and the chips fall where they may. Decision is up the district attorney/grand jury to prosecute in any other criminal case.
In the case of a civil determination, then any action is stipulated in state/county policy and practices for school districts. In most cases the final adjudication from a special panel might include suspension for up to three years or permanent revocation of teaching certificate for the teacher. That's a big deal as it usually follows them anywhere they go and they are effectively barred for life from teaching again. The focus is particularly strong on this because of all the recent history of child molestation and lawsuits that always seem to follow.
Atlanta, GA

E-mail No. 4

Is the Texas law only covering high schools, middle schools and elementary schools? Surely it doesn't cover college, does it? I think she should lose her job for sure, but prison time? When she was with a consenting adult? I heard one ex-prosecutor claim that the boy may have been 18 but he still lived at home, he still wasn't making all of his own decisions. Yeah? Well, do you think for one minute that ex-prosecutor would be saying that if the 18-year-old had killed someone? No. He would be tried as an adult, convicted as an adult, sentenced as an adult — and in Texas, that means the death penalty. We need some consistency in our laws regarding juveniles.
Jacki Gansch
Columbus, OH

E-mail No. 5

I have to disagree with those that use the excuse that the teacher is an authority figure over students and should be punished. That’s a cop out just to prosecute someone. One could give other scenarios of authority figures having sex with younger adults. Example could be a 45-year-old police officer that has sex with a 20-year-old, which is legal. Well, if that argument holds water, then shouldn’t they have a law prohibiting police officers from having sex, because they have authority over others.
Bill Lee
Elkton, OR

E-mail No. 6

Dear Greta,
I watched tonight's show with interest. When I was a senior in HS in 1978 my fellow classmate age 17 (female) had an affair with our typing teacher age 25 (manual typewriters! Male teacher). It was obvious to everyone in the class that they were in love and it was the talk of the school. She sat in the front row and flirted shamelessly and yes she got an A. At our last reunion they had been happily married for 20 years.
I doubt if the 18-year-old will have any lasting damage from this affair other than the fact of his lover's arrest.
Elizabeth W.
Los Angeles, CA

E-mail No. 7

Yes, the teacher should be fired and lose her teaching license, but go to jail? No. The student is 18 and considered an adult in this country. It seems that this country wants to have "selective adulthood." You can vote at 18, get married at 18, buy a home at 18, go to war at 18, get killed in service of your country at 18, but somehow you are not old enough to buy a beer. You become a consenting adult at 18 according to our laws, but only when those laws are convenient, meaning "selective adulthood."
I don't think that we would be having this discussion if the young man who is 18 had sex with a 16-year-old girl and her parents wanted him prosecuted for statutory rape. He would definitely be considered an adult then — again "selective adulthood."
I am so surprised that the "selective adulthood" law setting the drinking age at 21 had not been taken to the Supreme Court. How is it constitutional to have varying age standards concerning alcohol when any 18-year-old can purchase cigarettes, vote, go to war, etc. So you are old enough to go kill people in Iraq and witness the horrible tragedies of war, but you are somehow too young and immature to buy a beer. Again we have "selective adulthood."
The babying of America is what we have here. Parents say: "my little Johnny is to young, he can't handle that." Well, a couple of generations ago, parents taught you to grow up and handle things on their own. Maybe we should leave the training wheels on until at least 14. This country set the age of legal adulthood at 18, maybe everyone should remember this and stop the "selective adulthood."

E-mail No. 8

The kid is 18 and the teacher is 25. They are both of age! How can opinions of us, or parents, or anyone else as to what is morally and ethically right, contribute to her going to jail or committing a crime?
I cannot believe this is even up for debate. Granted I have very loose opinions on things of this subject matter, I really don't think anyone has any right to convict her or jail her based on this. I hope she sues whoever prosecutes her. Whether or not it should have happened, they were legal. Let the school district take care of the rest and handle the ethics side to the story. Not to mention, this woman's reputation is trashed over a bare bones private matter. (Take that as in sex itself is a private matter between the consenting parties, not the fact that she is a teacher and he is a student etc.) BTW, I am 21 and a fellow Wisconsinite (Wausau). I love your show, and I have a lot of respect for you and your work. You bring a wonderful product/perspective to FOX News that isn't ladled with opinions. Keep it up!
Gio Cosentino

E-mail No. 9

Our laws are clear, on the book for all to read. I agree with them 100 percent. No teacher would touch my children without finding themselves in a hospital. Eighteen or not yet, those young adults are still in school!
For your male panel: What's the difference between a slut, who happens to be a teacher or sexual harassment from a pervert at the work place?
You are great,

E-mail No. 10

Hi Greta,
I know this is going to sound terrible, but I wish she were my teacher when I was a kid. And when I was at work, every other male I talked to said that. Well, almost every male. When I get my J.D. [degree], I would not mind defending the sexpot teachers (just for the fun of it). But I love your show.
Dave Owen

E-mail No. 11

Hi Greta,
I'm with the boys on this, Greta! I say, fire her, as would happen in a business where sex between employees is forbidden, but jail, absolutely not! The age of consent is the age of consent! I don't feel it should even be legal to pass a law overriding that. Do you think the public would stand for a law that would put people in jail, for up to 20 years, for having sex with another person employed at the same place?! It's the same thing! Love your show, Greta. I watch every day and I usually agree with you, but not this time!
Best Regards,
Lois Susanville

E-mail No. 12

Hi Greta,
I totally agree with you on this teacher/student having sex subject. I think your panel of guys are "Stuck on Stupid." This is the law... end of story! Love your show especially the last few days with the animals at the end of the show! You are an animal lover and so am I, that's how I know you are a special person! Bless you!
Palm Beach, FL

E-mail No. 13

Hi Greta,
Watch your show every night and wouldn't miss it. Ted, Bernie and Jim are great and also have good input. Not to mention good to look at. Just kidding, I am too old to be looking at guys. About the teacher having sex with an 18-year-old boy, it is a law and laws should be adhered to. If 18-year-olds are to be excluded, then the law should state that and since it doesn't state any certain age, then she is guilty.
Take care,
Mary Hicks

E-mail No. 14

From a guy's point of view, I'm going to be honest. No, really, I am! This is what almost all of us think, and what almost none of us dare admit. If teachers had been so wild when I was in school, I'd have never left!! I'd have scored F — on everything required for graduation. They'd have developed a teacher taskforce to try and teach me something. I'd have been the dumbest hillbilly on the face of this planet! And the happiest!
Love the show Greta, as always! And the Blog!
Barry Hobbs

E-mail No. 15

Hi Greta,
I watched last night's segment on the 25-year-old teacher and her 18-year-old student sex partner and thought, "so what?" It's inappropriate yes, illegal no. Just like the company I work for, many companies have very strict guidelines about managers or department heads having sexual relations with employees. Reason being that it opens up the chance for sexual harassment law suits against the officers of the company. These usually come about when the manager breaks off the relationship and the employee(s) seek revenge. I wonder if this is the case here with the teacher/student relationship?
Jan Maane

E-mail No. 16

In 1922, my grandmother and grandfather eloped because the family didn't approve. He was 23, and she was 14. They were married until his death in 1979. My grandmother's sister never did forgive my grandfather for "robbing the cradle."
Tim Day

E-mail No. 17

I have never seen you be so rude to your legal panel. If you ask them their opinion, please do not jump in at the top of your voice before they get 10 words spoken. It was impossible to hear their opinion. If you want to do monologues then don't have panelists.
The 25-year-old female teacher should be fired but not prosecuted. If she had sex with an 18 year old, there is no legal reason for her to be prosecuted. They were both consenting adults under the law. The Texas law making sex between teachers and students is ridiculous. If the student is under 18 it is rape, if over 18 and consensual, it may be poor judgment, may be immoral, justifying dismissal of the teacher, but certainly not a crime of any kind.
Whit Brown
Orlando, FL

E-mail No. 18

You know I love you and you're my favorite, but I gotta go with the fellas on this one. If she broke some moral code about having a relationship with a student then yes, maybe she should be fired from her job. But two adults are two adults. If they were both consenting to the sex, then there is nothing criminal. C'mon, an 18-year-old guy getting a beauty queen? That's like every guy's fantasy. I don't think the guy is complaining any. Anyway, love the show. Keep up the great work.
Rob Carpenter
Sacramento, CA

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