Illinois Bill Proposes Penalties for Teachers Engaging in Sexual Relations with Adult Students

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Illinois has a new bill that aims to solve a legal problem in Illinois involving sexual exploitation of students by school staff. It is currently legal for teachers to have sexual relationships with students who are 18 years old or older.

House Bill 4241, introduced by Amy Elik and Republican legislators of the Republican Party, aims to correct this situation. This bill criminalizes educators who abuse their power by having sexual relationships with adult students.

Elik said that the bill will “protect 18-year-old students in high school by creating an offense of abuse by an authority figure or educator. The bill would make the first offense a Class A misdemeanor, and the second offense a Class 4 felony. ”

Terri Bryant, a State Senate co-sponsor, who has been a proponent of this bill, pointed out that teachers begin conditioning minors before they are 18 years old.

Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro State Senate, said that children cannot wait to tackle this issue.

Bryant said, “There are some teachers who are unscrupulous and I’d call them evil.” They groom teenagers at 15, 16, 17, and 18 to be in a romantic relationship by the time they are 18.

The measure has been well received. It was unanimously passed by the House Judiciary Criminal Committee. Elik said that there is “no vocal resistance” to the bipartisan bill and it should be advanced in the current session.

The measure not only lays out punishments for first and subsequent offenses but also aims to stop offenders from getting positions with other schools and continuing to engage in the same behavior. Elik pointed out that “With no criminal charge on a background check, that person can go on to work with other children and other child-facing organizations such as summer camps, park and rec jobs, or volunteer organizations.”

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If Illinois passes this bill, it will join several other states that have passed similar legislation.

Over 75 percent of states have laws that specifically prohibit educator sexual misconduct. They do this because they understand that even if a student is older than the consent age, an educator still has authority and can’t allow a sexual relationship.

The data collected from 2010 to 2017 was used for a statutory analysis of these laws.

By the end of March, the State Senate should have considered the bill.