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Keeping his eye on the news and offering commentaries and insights on what is happening in Oakland County, around the world, on the tube and in the news.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Georgia teacher accused of sex with six students; look back at some of Oakland's teacher cases

A teacher of freshmen students at a Georgia high school has been arrested and charged with sexual assault, accused of having sex with as many as seven students, several media outlets have reported.

Such stories have become fairly common as laws have changed to criminalize sex with younger people who have reached the age of consent yet but have a teacher-student, coach-player or boss-employee relationship. For instance, in Michigan, as with Georgia, the age of consent is 16, but it is now illegalf for people to have sex with those younger than 18 if they are a teacher, boss, coach or someone with an authority position over that teenager.

In Georgia this week, a 32-year-old math teacher and 10-year veteran of Charlton County High School, DaNita Wilson, was charged with seven counts of sexual assault, reports the

The math teacher has been suspended with pay and is free on bond. School leaders will seek to terminate her employment, reports

The Huffington Post reports she could face up to 25 years in prison for the charges, but the maximum could be pushed up to 50 years because one of the seven students was underage, 15 years old, exacerbating the charges.

As with Michigan, the teacher-student relationship criminalizes the sex with students who are 16 or older. The relationships reportedly, in at least some cases, lasted more than a year. Wilson's arrest came after the school board received a tip about the alleged relationships, prompting an investigation. A school official escorted the teacher to state investigators with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, giving her a letter informing her of the paid suspension.

In a CNN story, colleagues expressed surprise at the accuations, noting she'd never been disciplined before.

In Oakland County in recent years, several teachers and coaches have been accused and convicted of sexual misconduct charges related to relationships with students.

In Rochester Hills, an Adams High School softball coach, volunteer Thomas Powell, 59, was sentenced in January of 2012 to one year in jail on such charges involving two young women. When sentenced the then-18-year-old girl told the judge she still loved him and said she would wait for his release.

In Waterford Township, in 2009, the district saw two employees charged with criminal sexual conduct related to relationships with students. Both adults worked at Waterford Mott High School.

Amy Rita Ellsworth, then 38, was arrested, charged, and later pleaded to a slew of charges related to relationships with three male students, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct, the most serious such charge. She was sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison. The 5-to-30 year sentence of Ellsworth, a teacher assistant, was much more severe than the sentence of Brian Drake, then 41, a theatre coordinator at Waterford Mott who pleaded to reduced charges for a relationship involving touching with a young woman. He received probation, and his son later married the victim.

In Birmingham, a Seaholm High School swim coach was sentenced in 2007 to one-to-15 years in prison for a sexual relationship with a then-16-year-old female swimmer. Dennis Michael Carter, then 53, was sentenced to prison after the girl reported the two-year relationship.

These are just some of the cases we have had, but it is interesting that these ended with the women still jailed and the men getting smaller sentences. I don't, however, believe there's that strong of a gender bias, much of it involves whether and how the victim testifies and which judge the case is assigned to.

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