When Does the Legal Age of Consent not Matter?

Libertarians wear individuality like a badge. I know that I am not exactly dropping a big news bomb on anyone here. One simply has to peruse the comment section of any given post to see that we sometimes disagree for sport. I think that most of us can agree that the government should not interfere in the sex lives of consenting adults, but when is a person mature enough to consent to sex? I personally think the age number actually changes from person to person and even then it may depend on situational context, but worldwide, culture and law actually dictate at what age a person may be mature enough to make the decision to have sex. The age varies in the US according to state, but for heterosexual relationships, the age of consent is generally 16. In Texas, where I live, the age of consent is 17.

Don’t tell that to Amy McElhenney. She was recently arrested for allegedly having sex with an 18 year old male. Ok, her 18 year old male student.

McElhenny, a 25 year old first year teacher, was a former Miss Texas contestant. Hello??? Former Miss Texas contestant? No matter how sexist this may seem, I can almost hear the high fives between the “victim” and his friends. That is, of course, if it happened. While Ms. McElhenney admittedly had an “inappropriate” relationship (read: text messages), she has denied a sexual one.

The age of consent in Texas is 17. The young man is 18. She did not break the law. Oh, wait. She did. A law, effective September 1, 2003, makes sexual relationships between educators and students illegal. My friends and I have discussed this over the last few days and some of them believe that the student/ teacher relationship ethically demands that there be no hanky-panky. They believe that the teacher is in an authority role and that the student is compelled, in a sexual situation, to comply. They do not consider, for even a minute, that nearly everyone is in some type of mentoring, or teaching role, to somebody else. They do not consider that there is a set of laws for one group and a more stringent set for another.

I think that a company is fully in its right to prohibit romantic relationships amongst staff. Romantic relationships between people in any business or educational environment can lead to a loss in productivity and Texas is a right to work state. A career working for someone else naturally implies a contract. She may have deserved to lose her job. I do not think that deviating from company rules should result in jail, trial, and possible fine or imprisonment.

BTW, The answer to the title question is:

The age of consent does not matter when people fail to realize that the true age of consent is dependent on where a person is in life’s journey.

Oops, I’m sorry. (dumping the wine) It does not matter when you are in Texas.

  1. Yeah, I dunno… there has to be a line somewhere.

    It could be settled by allowing sex between anyone 15 and up, or 12 and up with parental consent. Also, sex between people who are legal adults, regardless of age, should work… and children should be allowed to emancipate themselves at 12 (this would also help solve the problem of abusive homes).

  2. I think I’m missing something.. Why should their be an age of consent? Is sex a bad thing?

  3. I personally think the age number actually changes from person to person and even then it may depend on situational context…

  4. I was in Prague last week. There is a brothel that is called “Big Sister.” The age of consent (for males I assume) is 15. You could take your little 15 year old brother to get laid and the whole world via web could watch. We did not go- read of it in Avanti. Nothing is wrong with sex- something is wrong with people qualifying others to have it.

  5. There is a high chance of people in authority using that authority to either intimidate or reward people under them (no pun intended) for sex. I do not think it is a problem to disallow teachers from having relations with current students. I think it also shows flawed judgment, which she readily admits on her part.

    Ultimately, the law she broke has nothing to do with age of consent so the point is moot. Age is not the issue here. The question is whether the state can ban certain people in positions of power from having sex with the people they interact with in a supervisory role. Prison guards cannot have sex with inmates I am not so sure it s a bad law.

  6. I had hoped that this would go there. If I want to screw my boss, in an adult, of age, consensual relationship, should I be legally barred from it? No. I could be fired, but then it is not illegal. Just inappropriate.

  7. spilled champagne laughing with sg and deb one night on the phone- keys still stick- forgive typos please

  8. BTW, One can use Jesus as well as sex.

  9. I think I’m missing something.. Why should their be an age of consent? Is sex a bad thing?

    There needs to be some sort of age of consent to prevent pedophilia.

    5-year-olds shouldn’t be having sex. They don’t know enough about it to consent, and it’s ludicrous to expect that they could be taught in a manner that would still preserve their ability to say “no.”

  10. apparently my comment got cut off. what i was saying is if one partner is under 18 but both are with 3-5 years and the sex is consensual then the state should not be involved.

  11. Yeah, I think if there is going to be a legal age, CA has it right at 14. That said, I want to be a teacher and am not sure if it should be against the law; but, I think it is never right for a high school teacher to get sexual with a student.

  12. I don’t think it is a problem to disallow relationships between teachers and students. However, this could be done (or might be done already) under the civil statues and school district policies regarding sexual harassment.

    It should not be a criminal matter if both parties are consenting adults.

    The teacher should be fired because she is a liability to the school district, but should not be thrown in jail.

  13. The age of consent in Texas, as I understand it, is complicated – A 17-year-old can have sex with an 18-year-old and minors, but an 18-year-old cannot have sex with somebody under 17.

  14. Thank you for being one of the first people to point out that these are only allegations at this point (Ms. McElhenney has not even been charged, and the only evidence we know of is his story and some “endearing” text messages). Most articles have totally missed this point, or it has been lost in the author’s rhetoric (e.g., Jacqueline Floyd’s DMN article yesterday, which ridiculously compared Ms. McElhencey to Debra LaFave and Mary Kay LaTourneau — who ADMITTEDLY slept with 14 and 12 year-olds, respectively). No one is looking out for the teachers anymore. All a kid has to do is allege this and the teacher is tried and convicted in the MSM.

  15. So if it isn’t acceptable for a teacher and a student of age to have sex, then why can’t this be addressed with the teachers’ contract rather than the criminal courts?

    Many universities have policies dealing with faculty-student relationships, and they often include the possibility of termination for an inappropriate relationship. Agreeing to those policies is a condition of employment.

    Of course, the teachers’ unions make firing damn near impossible in some places, so perhaps they’re going after her in a criminal venue because that’s the only option available to make her pay any consequences. Or maybe without a conviction, firing her is impossible.

  16. “I had hoped that this would go there. If I want to screw my boss, in an adult, of age, consensual relationship, should I be legally barred from it? No. I could be fired, but then it is not illegal. Just inappropriate.”


  17. “There needs to be some sort of age of consent to prevent pedophilia.”

    Does our current age of consent prevent pedophilia? Why not?

  18. DAP — you and the other fellow are actually both correct; he is less so in terms of *terminology* unfortunately.

    Without a defined age of consent of some form, there is no viable way to define pedophilia as an enforceable offense.

    Of course, it’d be easy to redefine pedophilia to mean having sexual concourse or relations with a sexually undeveloped minor — but that leaves the room open for 11 year old girls, these days.

    And that’s something that is just more of a can of worms than I care to even touch upon.

  19. Once again back to the whole mainstream idea that everthing that’s good should be government endorsed, and everything bad should be illegal.

    Yeah, what she did is bad, but it shouldn’t be a crime.

  20. Sticky subject for libertarians.

    All I know, is that if a 36 year-old man engages in sex with my 15 year old daughter and he doesn’t go to jail, then I’m going to find him, and beat him without mercy. If it is a 16 to 18 year old boy, then I will at least threaten him with same.

    Does anyone know of a good boarding school, run by nuns, hidden in the mountains, surrounded by electric, barbed-wire fences and guard dogs?

  21. 96 % of offenders are male, but the female teachers involved in sexual impropriety allegations receive publicity out of proportion to the statistics. I sincerely doubt if this 18 year old man/boy, who can vote and enlist, was hurt in any way. What’s more, the very same media blitz celebrates the Demi Moore and Ashton pairings. . . A firss year teacher who is only 25 would have very little “power” over a senior. Was she giving him an actual grade in a spanish class? I think discretion on her behalf would be the decent thing; jail is absurd.

  22. There has to be a line somewhere. What about the innocent children? For years the Goverment of Canada has failed to protect our children. They are now fighting to raise the age from 14 to 16. While Canada is taking a step forward, Dutch pedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations to 12 from 16 and the legalization of child pornography and sex with animals, sparking widespread outrage.

  23. I could not find the TX law either. I should have been clear that I referenced the law only from news articles.

  24. I think that 18+ is ok and those aged 15-17 is ok as long as there is no more than 5 years apart in age. In my opinion those under 15 should not be able to consent to sex.

  25. After more research, the TX law in question is Section 21.12 of the TEXAS PENAL CODE that defines an “Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student”. a)An employee of a public or private primary or secondary school commits an offense if the employee engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school at which the employee works and who is not the employee’s spouse. (b)An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree. (c)If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under another section of this code, the actor may be prosecuted under either section or both sections. Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 224, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

  26. 5 year police office here. Comment to #29
    The legal age is 17 not with 3 year gap.. One could be 17 and the other 47. The 3 year rule is only a affirmative defense. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_defense) but still does not make it legal. But you are more than likely not going to be charged if they are YOUNGER THAN 17- “which means 16 or younger” and the other person was 3 years or less in age difference.

    Just for the record (to correct the article), the legal age of consent in Texas is 17 WITH a 3 year age gap provision.


    Comment by Moral Outrage ”” 2006-06-12 @ 3:09 pm

  27. To Shannon (#33)

    My bad on the typo – the 3yr gap provision applies with age 16 & under (not 17 as I had mistakenly said). While it is only an “affirmative defense” as noted, no DA will generally bother to prosecute such a case unless drugs/alcohol are involved.

  28. I went to school w/ Ms. McElhenny. Her junior or senior year, she *allegedly* got a football coach fired…well, he resigned first… for *allegedly* sleeping with him. This comes full circle.

    In Texas, the legal age of consent is 17 – that is to have sex with someone of any age. My neice is 17 and in a relationship with a 32 year old man – not illegal

    Also, if you are UNDER 17 it is legal to have sex with someone no more than 3 years older. Hence, a 19 year old can have sex with a 16 year old, an 18 year old = 15, etc.

    Under 14 sex is not consentual in Texas at all.

    I am majoring in Criminal Justice and this is a huge topic among many. However, the reason that it is illegal in a criminal sense is because of the “bribery” of a public official thing. No one would want me, as a police officer, sleeping with the city councilman(woman). No one wants the kid sleeping with the teacher because he/she is just gonna get a free ride and be a dumb*** for the rest of his/her life