Somewhere, Bill Clinton nods approvingly.
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the state’s law banning sexual contact between teachers and students, finding that people 18 or older have a constitutional right to engage in a consensual sexual relationship.
The court sided with 38-year-old David Paschal, an Elkins High School history and psychology teacher who admitted having a five-month consensual sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student.
“Regardless of how we feel about Paschal’s conduct, which could correctly referred to as reprehensible, we cannot abandon our duty to uphold the rule of law when a case presents distasteful facts,” wrote Chief Justice Jim Hannah.
Attorneys for the state argued the law protects high school students from sexual advances of teachers who are in positions of authority. But the high court found the law was unconstitutional because it criminalized sexual conduct between consenting adults.
In a dissent, Justice Robert Brown said that the majority’s opinion will cause disruption in high schools because there will be nothing to prevent teachers from having sex with students who are 18 or older.
“This will cause significant disruption in our high schools and have a deleterious impact on education in general and the teacher-student dynamic in particular,” wrote Brown.