It seems that headlines continually spotlight teachers accused of sex crimes against students. Though teachers are no more or less likely to commit lewd acts with minors than any other person, the nature of their profession seems to make these arrests particularly newsworthy.
Furthermore, because Oklahoma law stipulates that sex between a student and employee of the same district is illegal, certain acts which would otherwise be considered consensual sex are illegal for teachers and other professionals in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma statutory rape laws set the age of consent at 16; however, teachers, law enforcement agents, and others who are in a custodial or supervisory position are legally prevented from engaging in sexual activity with those under their custody or supervision.
However, with the number of teachers accused of sex crimes revealed in the local media, it seems that Oklahoma sex crime defense attorneys would have no shortage of clients needing skillful representation. Early this week, a former teacher in Clayton, Oklahoma, surrendered to authorities after she was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student.
Rhonda Ford, 29, resigned her position as English teacher at Clayton High School in Pushmataha County after rumors began circulating that she and a student were sexually involved.
In March, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations (OSBI) began investigating the claims, and Ford resigned the following week. According to police, the alleged victim told authorities that he began a sexual relationship with the teacher shortly after Valentine's Day, and that the two had sex on at least ten occasions in February and March.
To confirm his allegations, he told police he could identify a tattoo that Ford has below the panty line. A warrant was issued for Ford's arrest last week. She surrendered on Sunday to face criminal charges including one count of lewd or indecent acts with a minor under 16, four counts of second degree rape, four counts of sodomy, and three counts of providing alcohol to minors.
Three students told police that Ford had asked them to help her move and, as payment, she provided them with beer and liquor. Ford was employed by Clayton Public Schools for less than one year. She began working for Clayton High School in August 2011 and resigned prior to April 1, 2012. Before teaching in Clayton, Ford was employed as an English teacher at Cleveland High School for one semester--from August 2009 to January 2010.
Though confidentiality law prevents Cleveland Public Schools from releasing details of Ford's resignation, Cleveland High School principal Alan Baker is listed on an affidavit as a witness for the prosecution. Because the age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, and Ford's alleged victim is 15, she would have been facing prosecution even if she were not a teacher.
However, because she was a teacher, she was legally precluded from having sex with any student in the district in which she worked, even if that student had reached or passed the age of legal consent. Any teacher who has sex with a student not only risks his or her career, but also faces criminal prosecution and mandatory registration as an Oklahoma Sex Offender.
If you or a loved one has been accused of lewd acts with a minor or statutory rape, contact a skilled, experienced Oklahoma sex crime defense lawyer as quickly as possible.