Sunday, September 1, 2013

Consent Decrees: Why Betsy Karasik and The Washington Post Are Wrong About Teen Aged Girls

I've been an investigator of child abuse for almost 20 years. I've investigated over three thousand cases of abuse and hundreds of cases of sexual abuse.  Many of those cases involved sex abuse of teens by teachers. To say I know a thing or two about Teacher/Student sex and consent is an understatement.  That's why the Washington Post Op-Ed penned by Betsy Karasik about Stacey Dean Rambold is just flat out wrong.

If the subject of the op-ed doesn't ring a bell.  Rambold was convicted of raping a 14 year old student, Cherice Morales when he was 50.  He was sentenced to 30 days in jail by judge G. Todd Baugh.  Baugh saying that Morales was "as much in control of the situation".  Karasik argues that teen aged students can consent to adults. More on that presently, but first, an example of why the Judge, and Karasik just don't  get it. 

In the course of my career, I investigated a case of child sexual abuse between a respected teacher and a 16 year old boy.  The boy disclosed shortly after his 17th birthday.  He gave a credible statement that his teacher fondled his penis multiple times.  

Since the family requested no prosecution, it was left to me to speak to the teacher and inform the school. I did so, and when confronting the teacher, he admitted that he had fondled the boy.  I indicated the report and the teacher resigned.   

Several months later through the official DCFS appeal process, the teacher won his appeal. The DCFS attorney and Manager who reviewed the case said that the incidents were not "sexual abuse" because of the age of the child, the fact there may have been consent and the fact that it did not happen at school. This decision was made even though according to IL Statutes, a teacher is always a teacher. 

Sometime there after, the victim committed suicide. 

The heart of Ms. Karasik's opinion seems to be that teen aged girls have sex on the mind as do teen aged boys. This is true in the abstract.  It's also true that girls have had affairs with teachers for millenia. She conflates sex between teens and teachers and sex with college professors, however. That is a false equivalence and frankly just kind of dumb. College students who have sex with professors are adults, and therefore able to consent. 

It's true on its face, that teenagers are maturing/mature sexually. They have sex on the brain as Ms. Karasik points out.  The gray hair in my Van Dyke can attest to being the father of a quickly developing 13 year old daughter.

What Ms. Karasik fails to understand, or maybe she does and she's just not saying, these developing teens have normal appetites for each other. For other teens, kids their own age and maybe a little older. My daughter may think that Mr. X the science teacher is cute, but she is not eyeing him with the idea of dating and possible sexual relations. 

On the other hand, teachers who have sex with teens, are looking at the child in nothing but sexual terms. They use their position of authority over the children and gradually groom them until they are in an intimate situation, of which the teacher takes full advantage.  

I think most people agree that teens can "consent" to that first fumbling in the back of 1974 Chevy Caprice Classic, with another teen.  That's not what we are talking about here. A teacher using a child for sex is no different than a priest doing the same thing.  No different from Jerry Sandusky.  

Ms Karasik seems to think  the trauma of going through a trial doesn't help the victim and in fact delays their healing. She's as wrong about this as she is about everything else in the work.  Especially in cases like this where the perpetrator confessed and plead guilty, the closure for the victim is vital to their ongoing recovery. We'll never know how Cherice would have responded because she, like the boy in my case, committed suicide. 

Finally, Ms. Karasik closes with a pretty ridiculous reason we should excuse teachers who sexually abuse students: "If religious leaders and heads of state can’t keep their pants on, with all they have to lose, why does society expect that members of other professions can be coerced into meeting this standard?" 

So holding people to account for sexually abusing children is a ridiculous standard because religious people and Bill Clinton can't keep their pants up?  I seem to remember Clinton being impeached and at last tally the Catholic Church is bankrupt paying for priests who abused children. In my world those are pretty severe consequences.

A better question is: how can we not hold teachers to  a "ridiculously high standard"?  


  1. thank you for doing what has to be an almost horrific job. I wish I had gotten a good investigator instead of one who called rape "inappropriate touching", and said that because I was already a victim of sexual abuse at home, I should be "used to it", and "it didn't harm me"

  2. Terribly sorry. There are always inept people in this line of work. I hope your life has improved.

  3. I would love to talk with you. I am the State Pres of MT NOW.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Nice job Patrick! Well stated case and very clear thinking. It is great to know that you are working for the good guys.