Teacher-Student Relationships: Inappropriate or Criminal?

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I have posted — randomly grabbed — e-mails about the 25-year-old teacher arrested for having sex with her 18-year-old student. The topic has generated LOTS of debate. In reading all the e-mails, and in thinking about the topic, I urge you to keep in mind one thing: The 18-year-old is NOT charged with a crime and will not be. This is not an investigation of him. This is an investigation into the conduct of his 25-year-old teacher and whether her behavior of having sex with her 18-year-old student is criminal... and whether it should be. Last night I disagreed with the guys on the show and told them after the segment I would not "stack" the e-mails in my favor, but just post them as I read them so that it would be a fair representation of viewer opinion.

After I got home, my husband said he disagreed with me — but his disagreement was whether the penalty should be a felony or a misdemeanor. We never reached that particularly issue on the show and I am not sure what time, if any, I would give her... I just said that I thought it wrong for her to have sex with a student and that having a law prohibiting it is a good idea, since she otherwise does not "get" it. This prosecution would not necessarily be to correct a harm to the 18-year-old (he may have no harm) but as a deterrent to other likewise tempted teachers.

And let me add sarcastically, if she is in love, she could have waited until graduation.

We had a surprise last night: Movie star Darryl Hannah was supposed to appear on the show, but she did not get out of jail soon enough. We monitored her pending release throughout the hour, but we lost that gamble. Hence we put another guest on the phone and improvised. If you remember, about 10 days ago we were in Los Angeles and interviewed Darryl Hannah at the location of the protest.

Since I received so many e-mails about the turtle rescued by my producer, I have posted two pictures of the rescue (shot from the back seat of the car on the highway ramp). It's never dull, huh?

E-mail No. 1

After reading about your producer stopping to move the turtle, I just had to tell you about when my daughter did that a few years ago. She stopped to get the turtle off the road, it was a snapping turtle and she was trying to figure out how to move it without getting bit when a man in a pick-up stopped behind her "to help," picked the turtle up and threw it in the back of his truck saying "they make good soup" and drove off while my daughter stood there speechless. Poor turtle...
Celia P.
Pittsboro, NC

E-mail No. 2

Hey Greta,
We love your show. Our goal at the end of the day is to get the kids to bed and get caught up on the news by watching your show. We think you could sell a bobble head doll of Ted saying, "stuck on stupid" as a FOX News merchandise. Keep up the good work. We would like to see some kind follow up story on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Katrina.
Milton and Stacy
Eupora, MS

E-mail No. 3

Kudos to your producer for saving the turtle. I would have done the same thing, as would you if you were alone I bet! I love the fact that you are so passionate about animals and you are very caring with your staff, etc. Bless you!

ANSWER: My producer, Amy Doyle, is the turtle rescuer. She gets the credit. See the pictures posted.

E-mail No. 4

Not sure if they have snapping turtles in Florida, which can take a 3-inch branch and chew it like a toothpick, but sea turtles tend to be more mellow — might be a bit shocked, and wary, but less likely to bite... I've done the same thing, but on country roads, and a red-eared turtle — dopey and slow — and was thanked by the thing peeing on me. But I couldn't stand the idea of it getting run over... in Texas, they prop dead armadillos up (they're slow, stupid, and usually seen dead) up with beer cans on the side of the road... can't do much with a flat turtle... And, if it was a sea turtle, possibly endangered, she helped save a species that is going down the tubes.
Cool move!
J. Johnson

E-mail No. 5

So glad to hear no one was hurt in the turtle story (more concerned for the traffic, mind you) but you may very well have broken the law. If it was in fact not a turtle but a gopher tortoise (and most folks don't know the difference) then they are protected species in Florida and are not to be handled, touched, picked up or tampered with in any way, not even as you describe in the well-intentioned act of moving it off the highway. Sadly just last year a child was killed in Florida while trying to move a turtle (or tortoise) off the roadway.
Bronson, FL

E-mail No. 6

That was a nice story you told about rescuing the turtle. I live in the South Carolina "low country" and once I picked up a turtle from a busy street to put him out of harm's way. A man in a Buick stopped and told me if you pick up a turtle to move it, "always point it in the same direction that it's heading otherwise it will go back into the street." I guess turtles are smart enough to know where they want to go and are determined to go that way. Anyway, I thought that was interesting Suzy Suthers
Murrells Inlet, SC

E-mail No. 7

Re: Mary Winkler
At least we now know "everything was not as it appeared." That was the most revealing info Mary's lawyer will admit. No trumped up story of an intruder... no claims of the gun going off accidentally — and her running away in fear.
It sounds like we're finally going to hear some explanation when the trial begins in October.
I hope Mary Winkler can see her children soon!
Dallas, TX

E-mail No. 8

I taught school for 31 years and I agree with Greta. Parents must be able to trust a child's teacher. I personally cannot believe the lack of professionalism on the part of this teacher.
Linda Ruth Smith,
Poteau, OK

E-mail No. 9

What if the teacher were a 45-year-old man and the female student were 18? The teacher in this case should at least be fired.
Nan Bopp
Beaufort, SC

E-mail No. 10

A "student" is not only in elementary or high school. A student also attends colleges or tech schools. Do we also control sex between that "student" and a teacher? The line has to be drawn somewhere, but age is where the line should be, not by the word "student."
Nell Lennard
Pensacola FL

E-mail No. 11

What is it with these men of yours! A male teacher would be sent to jail with their blessings, BUT this woman should get nothing! Double standard or what?

E-mail No. 12

I think it's stupid to criminalize sex between two consenting adults, no matter who they are. It's totally stupid to charge her for a crime.

E-mail No. 13

The student is 18! Whether a student or not, he's a consenting adult! By punishing this woman, this young man is being also told who he can and can't date. If the school chooses to reprimand her or fire her, okay. I agree, college professors can't have sex with students either. But this shouldn't be on the news.
I could name many cases in which teenage girls married men in their 30s and up. Bo Derek was 18 when she married John Derek (30 years older), and the marriage was the real deal — 24 years, 'til John's death. My uncle married my aunt when he was 34 and she was 18, their marriage was also 'til death (his). This young man and teacher — it could be a lot more than a roll in the hay and they don't need this public scrutiny.
Diane Kelson

E-mail No. 14

Dear Greta,
I don't understand why so much time was spent on this story when you have an 18-year-old male who claims that he had sexual intercourse with his 25-year-old female teacher. Where is the proof that the 18-year-old male student is telling the truth? Where is the proof that the 25-year-old female teacher is not telling the truth? What if the story that the 18-year-old male student is telling is fabrication, not necessarily to try to get his teacher in trouble, but rather to "show off" to his buddies in school? It definitely would not be the first time such a story was made up. I do think that other information about this case indicates that the extracurricular relationship that the student and teacher were having was inappropriate and that the teacher should be required to leave her post.
The teacher cannot be condemned until it is proven in a court of law (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that she did in fact have sex with her student. That has not yet happened and may never happen.
Dr. Gary LeGrow
Newberry, FL

E-mail No. 15

I am in my sixties and when I was in high school we had several flings between teacher and student. One male coach and senior girl: they even disappeared on the senior trip and did not show back up until time to go home. He was a married man. We had a home economics teacher (married, husband in Army) have a fling with a 17-year-old. I can name at least three more, and this was a small town, everyone knew, whispered about it and did nothing. I would imagine that this 18-year-old and this teacher had a mutual affection for one another, she should be fired if t hey feel something should be done. I think it should be handled in their families and let it go at that.

E-mail No. 16

Hi Greta,
I believe that there is a code of conduct for educators in the State of Texas, which lists appropriate/inappropriate behaviors. Within this code and within the School Board Policy Manual, which each independent school district in the state of Texas has, there are statements about unethical behavior such as this teacher has displayed. An educator violating the code and/or School District Board Policy will be disciplined administratively as required by the policies and/or code. There will probably have to be a hearing to determine if the educator did in fact violate policy. Furthermore, in all likelihood, it will be recommended that this person have his/her certification revoked in the State of Texas. That is a big deal to no longer be able to teach in the public school system in that state.
I personally feel that this is the route which should be taken and it should not be put into the hands of the law in this case since the violated student was not a minor.
Keep up the wonderful job. I watch your show faithfully and admire the tenacity with which you attack! Especially I love it when your own "sharks" and you get into a battle. You have a great team of sharks and I love them too!
Sharon Liskow

E-mail No. 17

For once I totally agree with you about the teacher sex scandal with an 18-year-old student. You're right, it is about the teacher's accountability not the student. The law punishes the teacher not the student. Your panel missed the issue. This is why people hate lawyers. Your panel thinks this is bogus. These are the same attorneys that say they believe in the law. They kept referring to the student dying in war, able to vote, etc. Those are choices. The representative you interviewed made his point that it is mandatory to attend school. Your panel didn't feel that morally it was right to make this teacher a convict and so the law should be ignored or laughed at as they did.
That's why people hate attorneys.
Sincerely a fan and sister to an attorney (sigh),
Alicia Coppell

E-mail No. 18

I agree with you on teachers having sex with students. It is inappropriate. I wasn't surprised all the men were disagreed with you, this issue seems to be very gender biased. I do think that Bernie would have a different take if it were a 25-year-old male teacher impregnating an 18-year-old girl! For some reason there seems to be a fantasy with many of these men that they could have a hot pretty teacher show sexual interest in them as a teenager.
I guess my "Solomon-like" decision would be to fire the teacher, label her a sex offender, and make sure that she can never be in an environment with children unsupervised. Any teacher's union that would try to protect a teacher in this position should be decertified.
Shari Carnahan
Maple Valley, WA

E-mail No. 19

I'm a 58-year-old Vietnam Vet. I saw the three men arguing that the teacher who had sex with the 18-year-old boy was OK? Any of those three nerdy looking guys all agreed it was OK. I wonder if it were their 18-year-old daughter who also is old enough to fight for her country was having sex with a 25-year-old man teacher would still be ok. They just don't get the picture as you tried to tell them a teacher does not have sex with any student. A doctor does not have sex with his patient — as well as in all professional situations. One year in jail should be sufficient, it should, like you say, never go unnoticed. They even screwed up the case with the Duke rape case. The prosecutor should also feel for the men who may be innocent. That black man on your show is foolish and like most black people I've seen on TV concerning this case have already convicted these boys. If I was one of the Duke men and later found guilty I would look people like him up at sue the hell out him for his damaging opinions on TV. Greta I've watched you for a long time now and I think you are the best. Keep up the good work and remind guys like this when they laugh about that teacher some day I may laugh at their daughter or their granddaughter.

E-mail No. 20

You said you couldn't wait to see the e-mails on THIS topic so here goes... I think this situation comes under the umbrella of "you can't legislate morality," although there are MANY times that I wish we could as I raise my three teenage daughters. But really Greta, I do hear your point, but the guy is 18 years old and if that is the legal age for consent in Texas, then so be it. I agree with Ted and Bernie — the teacher should be fired and sent on her merry way, but jail? I don't think so. I think that particular Texas law needs a little amending.
One thing that no one mentioned: What about college professors who have sexual relationships with college students? Should they all be tried and go to jail too? And we all know that goes on more than infrequently. That's a teacher/student relationship. I think the teacher in this situation should be ashamed of herself and should have known better, but I don't think she needs to do time. I think she needs to be fired, for sure.

E-mail No. 21

Get back to D.C. and quit playing in the rain. You'll have plenty more time since the season has just begun. I say all this in jest. I wish I could go chase a storm myself. Narrowly missed one here last year.
Clarissa Lockett,
Houston, TX

E-mail No. 22

Gutless. Nice raincoat. When have the networks sunk to carrying tropical storms? The Aruba government has covered up the Holloway case. And you're covering a tropical storm? How stupid are you? Don't answer. We already know.

E-mail No. 23

Nifong chose to run DNA tests on 46 players instead of waiting for the "victim" to ID the rapists and only run DNA on those three men. As a result, Durham County taxpayers (including myself) are out nearly $29,000. By the time this fiasco is over, I'm sure we will be out half a million! Durham has just announced a property tax increase. Guess we know where that money's going!
There is now a campaign to get a write-in candidate to oppose that idiot in the November election. Keep your fingers crossed!
Bob Cash
Durham, NC

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