A former John Marshall High School track coach accused of having sex with a student turned himself in to police after a warrant for his arrest was issued.
Elijah Tee Gill, 24, had been a volunteer track coach at the school before becoming employed as a part time Oklahoma City Public Schools employee only a week before the allegations became public. Gill was hired as a paid employee on March 31, and a week later, a 16-year-old girl on the track team told police that she and Gill had been involved in a sexual relationship, having had sex at least three times during March.
On April 20, a judge issued a warrant for Gill's arrest. On Wednesday, Gill approached a police officer, saying that there was a warrant for his arrest and he wanted to turn himself in. The officer arrested Gill and transported him to the Oklahoma County Jail, where he is held on $120,000 bond for complaints of one count of forcible sodomy and three counts of first degree rape. As of this writing, the Oklahoma County District Attorney's Office has not yet filed formal charges against Gill.
In Oklahoma, the age of consent to sexual activity is 16 years old under most circumstances. However, there are certain circumstances which prevent a person of legal age to consent from providing legal consent to sex with specified individuals--in particular, those in a position of authority over him or her:
- Where the victim is under the legal custody or supervision of a state agency, a federal agency, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision and engages in sexual intercourse with a state, federal, county, municipal or political subdivision employee or an employee of a contractor of the state, the federal government, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision that exercises authority over the victim;
- Where the victim is at least sixteen (16) years of age and is less than twenty (20) years of age and is a student, or under the legal custody or supervision of any public or private elementary or secondary school, junior high or high school, or public vocational school, and engages in sexual intercourse with a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older and is an employee of the same school system; or
- Where the victim is nineteen (19) years of age or younger and is in the legal custody of a state agency, federal agency or tribal court and engages in sexual intercourse with a foster parent or foster parent applicant. (21 O.S. § 1111)
Seemingly consensual sex under these circumstances is considered second degree rape, or statutory rape, because although there is apparent consent, there is no legal consent.
In general, a sexual relationship between a student and a school employee is charged as second degree rape. Interestingly, in this case, the criminal complaint on which Gill is held is first degree rape by force or fear. There have been no reports of allegations that the girl felt threatened into a sexual relationship, but if that is the case, then the first degree rape charge may be valid. However, it seems more likely that police are trying to find an appropriate criminal charge for the circumstances. State law says that a student is unable to consent to sex with an employee of the school system, but Gill was only a volunteer coach from December through the end of March. Although the allegations came out after he was hired, the girl alleges that the three sexual encounters occurred during March--before Gill became a paid employee of the district. Police may be holding Gill under the assumption that the girl felt coerced into a sexual relationship with the volunteer track coach out of fear for her position on the team.
It will be interesting to see what charges are formally filed in this case and what defense strategy will be utilized given the non-employee status of the defendant at the time of the alleged incidents.
On another note, when a warrant is placed for someone's arrest, the best thing for that person to do is contact an attorney who may be able to arrange more favorable arrest and bond conditions, possibly even keeping that person out of jail from the start. One is advised never to speak to police or investigators without the advice and presence of an attorney.