Don't equivocate, sex with a minor is rape

When will journalists finally take time in the age of “Me Too” to educate themselves?

The Sept. 10 headlines − on theday.com "Former Waterford Country School educator begins six-month sentence for sex with 15-year-old student" and in the print edition, “Teacher gets six months for sex with student” − were an absolute mischaracterization of an egregious criminal offense involving the victimization of a minor. If one party is below the age of consent for sexual activity, as put forth in state law, then the act is rape, not sex.

This offender was in a position of trust involving a vulnerable child, in Department of Children and Family care attending a residential school specifically for children with special needs. The offender exploited her authority and facilitated her crime by manipulating this minor-age male with alcohol, creating additional risk for this victim, i.e. alcohol poisoning (reported blood alcohol count of .202%). These are common predatory tactics employed by sex offenders. Please get it right, this was not sex or merely an “illegal sexual relationship,” this child was violated and victimized by this teacher/caregiver.

Perhaps The Day’s “reporting” was another unfortunate minimization based on the outdated and gender-biased fantasy of a young boy’s “sexual awakening” at the hands of an experienced, sensitive older woman. Get it right; rape is rape. You owe it to all victims to report accurately and not minimize through inaccurate wording the reality of these crimes that typically have a lifelong impact on a survivor’s self-esteem, sense of control, and ability to trust themselves and others.

Please note that the fact that this “teacher” will be convicted of only one count of risk of injury should be considered a travesty, one that allowed the offender to avoid placement on the state’s sex offender registry. Staff Writer Karen Florin failed to report on whether this felony results in the automatic suspension of any licenses or certifications that could protect against future access to children.

Editor’s note: The defendant had no job-related licenses or certifications. Concerning the headline, the defendant was not legally convicted of a sexual assault.

N.A. Turner lives in Groton. You can reach Turner at natglp@gmail.com.

 

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