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Arkansas Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Banning Teacher-Student Sex
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On Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s controversial law that banned sexual contact between teachers and students. The court found that people above the age of 18 years had a constitutional right to engage in consensual sex.

In a case where 38-year old David Paschal, a history and psychology teacher at Elkins High School was accused of having a five-month consensual sex relationship with an 18-year old student, the court sided with Paschal.

Chief Justice Jim Hannah noted, “Regardless of how we feel about Paschal’s conduct, which could correctly be referred to as reprehensible, we cannot abandon our duty to uphold the rule of law when a case presents distasteful facts.”

  
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Attorneys arguing on behalf of the state held that the law protects high school students from sexual advances of teachers as they are in a ‘fiduciary position.’ However, the high court found the law to be unconstitutional, as it criminalized consensual sexual conduct between adults.

Dissenting Justice Robert Brown opined that there was nothing now to prevent teachers from having sex with students who are 18 or older in Arkansas. He said, “This will cause significant disruption in our high schools and have a deleterious impact on education in general and the teacher-student dynamic in particular.”

Paschal, who is currently serving a 30-year sentence for falling in love with his student will have his convictions reversed and dismissed if the judgment remains final without appeal or if his case wins any appeal brought by the state.

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Casey Copeland, the lawyer of Paschal, said “I think that this case does not necessarily say a teacher can do that and keep their job … I think the loss of job and loss of teacher’s license might be appropriate for that, but it’s not appropriate to put someone in jail for 30 years.”

However, the decision has not gone down well with the state. Aaron Sadler, spokesman for the Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel released an email stating “We respect the Court’s decision, although we disagree with it … We are currently evaluating our options, which include seeking a rehearing.”



The spokesman for the Governor Mike Beebe too was of a similar mind. Matt DeCample, the spokesman said “We’re reviewing the decision … It’s way too early to talk about any immediate attempts at a legislative response.”



 

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