If you are an educator in the state of Nevada, it’s unlikely that the recent accusations of sexual misconduct between teachers and students in our schools have escaped your attention. At the time of this writing, 13 arrests have been made this year alone, and Las Vegas holds the unfortunate distinction of having the most teachers who have been accused of misconduct with students in the nation.
The Necessity of Examining All Angles of an Accusation
When disturbing reports like this appear with such an alarming rate of frequency, it is clearly very important that the truly criminal cases among them are identified and the perpetrators prosecuted. This is one side of what our justice system is in place to accomplish. It would be hard to argue with the fact that an adult who is found guilty of using their position of authority in a school setting or at any other time or place to engage in inappropriately sexual behavior involving a minor should be held responsible for their conduct and punished.
However, it is equally important that we don’t fail to examine the other side of what our justice system has been put in place to do, which is to prove the innocence of the truly innocent. Representation of the accused party in cases of this nature can be inflammatory, but not every client can be guilty. We are dedicated to ensuring that the innocent receive the exoneration they are due.
Who Can Be Accused of Sexual Misconduct Between Teachers and Students?
Sexual misconduct between teachers and students can cover the inappropriate and prohibited interaction between more than strictly a teacher and student. Nevada, per NRS 201.540, recognizes all of the following employment positions within a school system as “positions of authority”, all of which would face the same degree of legal consequences if convicted of sexual misconduct with a student:
● Classroom teachers or instructors
● Teacher’s aides or assistants
● Substitute teachers
● School administrators
● Guidance counselors
● Head or Assistant Coaches
● Cafeteria workers, Janitors and Bus Drivers
Where Do The Laws of Sexual Misconduct Between Teachers and Students Apply?
These laws refer to any secondary school in the state Nevada, regardless of public or private status and include colleges as well. It is also worth noting that it is just as illegal for sexual misconduct to take place between a school employee and a student regardless of the school they are associated with.
For example, a teacher at one school who, in the course of their educational duties, has had what could be considered sexual misconduct with a student that attends a different school who is then accused of an allegedly inappropriate act will face the same charges as they would if they had been accused by a student at the school where they are employed. It is also possible for a school employee to be accused and convicted of sexual misconduct well after the fact, even if they are no longer employees of the school where the alleged incident occurred.
What Can Be Considered Sexual Misconduct?
The interactions between a teacher or other adults recognized as being in “positions of authority” within the school system and a student that are considered sexual misconduct are clearly defined by Nevada law. These range from actions that it could be possible for student or witness to misinterpret to actions that are clearly inappropriate and illegal.
Examples of Teacher to Student Sexual Misconduct in Nevada
● Touching of a student’s clothing or body
● Suggestive and unwelcome words, conversations or advances
● Discussion of the sexual activity of self or others
● Sexual or lewd jokes, drawings, or gestures
● Spreading or participating in rumors or gossip of a sexual nature
● Sexual and flirtatious teasing or nicknames
● The display of any material that is sexually explicit in nature (for example, videos, magazines, pictures, etc.)
● Any physical contact intended to cause or gratify arousal of either person
● Any display of masturbation or exhibition of genital nudity
● Any form of oral sex
● Any form of sexual intercourse
Sexual Misconduct Between Teachers and Students Convictions Carry Serious Penalties
In the state of Nevada, a school employee who is convicted of sexual misconduct with a student will face the following penalties:
For sexual misconduct between a secondary school or college employee and a student aged 16 years or older, which is a category C felony:
- 1 to 5 years in Nevada State Prison
- Fines up to $10,00
For sexual misconduct between a school employee and a student aged 14 or 15 years old, which is a category B felony:
- 1 to 6 years in Nevada State Prison
- Fines up to $5,000
Related cases in which the minor is younger than 14 years of age carry even more serious charges including:
- Sexual Assault – If the assault involved a student that was 13 years of age or younger and there is a conviction, the sentence is life in prison. In cases where the child sustained no injuries related to the assault, then there is a possibility for parole after 35 years.
- Lewd Conduct With a Child Under 14 Years of Age – Conviction is life in prison. For those convicted of a similar offense prior to this, there will be no parole eligibility.
- Statutory Rape – A conviction for statutory rape involving a teacher and student can occur even if the sex was considered to be consensual. The penalty for statutory rape is typically 1 to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
Even Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Can Have Consequences
In many cases, accusations of alleged sexual misconduct alone are enough to permanently damage the career and personal life of the accused, even if there is no evidence of misconduct and no conviction occurs. The accused party may find themselves facing civil lawsuits for financial damages, in addition to a possible job suspension or loss before their case is even decided.
Accusations of alleged sexual misconduct, particularly in cases of this nature which typically involve an imbalance of power or authority combined with the impressionable nature of minor victims, are very serious and can have life-changing consequences for everyone directly involved. If you have been accused of sexual misconduct between teachers and students that you did not commit, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
By aligning yourself with a firm that has the experience and knowledge to respond promptly to such stigmatizing allegations, you may be able to control some of the otherwise unavoidable damage such accusations can bring. If you need advice from someone in the field of criminal defense who can handle your case with confidence and professional candor, contact our office today.