Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Defenses to Charges of Inappropriate Conduct

A teacher in Whitman was recently arrested in relation to charges that the man had inappropriate conduct with a student. The charges included two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14.  

The arrest occurred after an investigation into a dance that the teacher taught a class of 20 students showed that there was probable cause on which to arrest the teacher. The teacher’s father argues that the arrest resulted from a misunderstanding and that the teacher did not do anything wrong.

Teachers today face a great amount of scrutiny for the relationships that they have with students. While it is a wise idea to establish clear boundaries with students, sometimes things happen despite exercising caution.

As a result of allegations of sexual misconduct with a student, it is possible for teachers to end up facing a number of serious complications including loss of employment, a tattered reputation, and criminal charges.

Efforts by Massachusetts to Enforce Teacher/Student Misconduct Laws

In 2017, a bill was considered in the Massachusetts legislature that would have increased the enforcement of sexual misconduct in laws. If the bill had become a law, it would have made it illegal for any teacher to engage in a sexual relationship with students under the age of 19.

Schools would have also been required to report abuse to the state of Massachusetts or pay a fine of $10,000 for each offense.

The bill, however, was not passed, and it is still lawful for teachers in Massachusetts to engage in sexual relations with students provided the student is over the age of 16 and consents to the relationship. For relationships involving sexual touching and not intercourse, however, the age of consent for a student is merely 14 years old.

Ways Teachers can Protect Themselves From Criminal Charges

While it will not help in every situation, there are some steps that teachers can take to greatly reduce the risk of being charged with inappropriate conduct. Some of these steps include:

  • Always make sure to uphold rules of conduct that are safe and appropriate for children

  • Behave in ways that everyone who knows about the matter would be comfortable

  • Pay close attention to a student’s body language

  • Remain respectful of students’ boundaries

  • Take extra precautions when you are alone with children, which should include obtaining permission from their parents

  • Understand and respect that some children will dislike and be unhappy about some things you might be required to do for health or safety reasons

  • Uphold boundaries concerning sexual or suggestive behavior

Contact a Boston Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor, it is important to understand that you face a lengthy prison sentence as well as a number of other life complications. In these situations, it is a wise idea to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Contact attorney Edward Molari today for assistance.