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Teacher-student sex ban to be tightened
Photo: DPA

Teacher-student sex ban to be tightened

Published: 15 Nov 2012 10:37 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Nov 2012 10:37 GMT+01:00

Teachers who have sexual relationships with students but escape punishment because their lover is not in their class could find themselves in trouble - state justice ministers want to tighten the rules.

The German Federal Court of Justice has previously held that a teacher must be in a position to potentially influence the student over a "longer period of time" in order to face criminal punishment.

This sort of custodial relationship was deemed to apply to teachers in the classroom, but not to substitute instructors or teachers who serve as chaperones on field trips.

In one case, a 32-year-old teacher in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate was acquitted last December after engaging in a sexual affair with a 14-year-old female student, whom he met while chaperoning a field trip.

The appeals court in Koblenz found that the man's behaviour was "inappropriate, indecent and irresponsible," but said he was not culpable, since there was no "custodial relationship" with the student, who thus did not qualify as a ward.

Now state justice ministers from Germany's 16 federal states are looking to tighten the rules, Die Welt newspaper said on Wednesday, ahead of the ministers' annual meeting on Thursday.

Hesse deputy state premier Jörg-Uwe Hahn, who chairs the Justice Ministers' Conference, told the paper that officials agreed on the need for clarification.

"In the future, this rule will not only apply to the classroom teacher specifically, but also to all teachers within a school," he said.

If the penal code is revised, culpability would not hinge on whether the teacher in question is a substitute - and the rules would also apply to adult caregivers in other kinds of institutions, such as children's homes.

"This behaviour is indecent and should therefore be subject to tougher criminal penalties in future," Hahn told Die Welt.

The states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria will reportedly be in charge of drawing up a draft law - but it is still an open question whether Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger will back the plan.

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Your comments about this article

14:09 November 15, 2012 by lucksi
"In one case, a 32-year-old teacher in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate was acquitted last December after engaging in a sexual affair with a 14-year-old female student"

WHAT?

The age of consent is 16, who cares what the rules about teacher-student sex says.

And yes, the age of consent if 14 if the other party is under 18, if you are feeling nitpicky, but the dude was 32.
15:59 November 15, 2012 by Omufu
Ja exactly! They left out the minor detail (excuse the pun) of her being 14. I don't know what to think. Are they saying that it's legally ok, or generally ok? Where I'm from anything like that would get the teacher so badly fired, legal or not.
16:53 November 15, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ lucksi

Can you please point out where you found the age of consent to be 16? Here is what I found:

Strafgesetzbuch (StGB): § 176 Sexueller Mißbrauch von Kindern

"Wer sexuelle Handlungen an einer Person unter vierzehn Jahren (Kind) vornimmt oder an sich von dem Kind vornehmen läßt, wird mit Freiheitsstrafe von sechs Monaten bis zu zehn Jahren bestraft." http://dejure.org/gesetze/StGB/176.html

Subsequently, § 182 (2) of the same German Criminal Code says "A person over twenty-one years of age who abuses a person under sixteen years of age, in that he: 1. commits sexual acts on the person or allows them to be committed on himself by the person; or 2. induces the person to commit sexual acts on a third person or to allow them to be committed on the person by a third person, and thereby exploits the victim's lack of capacity for sexual self-determination, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine. [...] The act shall only be prosecuted upon complaint, unless the prosecuting authority considers ex officio that it is required to enter the case because of the special public interest therein."

So under 16 it is punishable only if it is about exploiting the victim's lack of capacity for sexual self-determination and the victim files a complain. Otherwise 14 is the age of consent, disregarding the age of the other party.
20:26 November 15, 2012 by StoutViking
When a 32 year old is looking for sex partners while chaperoning field trips, it should raise a lot of questions. When he picks up a 14 year old for a ride, that's sexual grooming of adolescents. He's the responsible adult, he should know better but instead he uses the legal concent age of 14 as a fig leaf.

The fact that a 14 year old agreed to his advances is exactly the point where lack of capacity for sexual self-determination comes to act.

Then again, with magazines like "Bravo" where girls as young as 12 ask about how to engage in anal sex with their 19 year old "partner" and get an answer, instead of a request to turn to help... Go figure.
22:34 November 15, 2012 by lucksi
@ChrisRea: I stand corrected. I think. If I understood what "exploiting the victim's lack of capacity for sexual self-determination" exactly means.
07:58 November 16, 2012 by insight101
Wow! Great to see Germany continue to inch its way forward out of the Dark Ages....
10:10 November 16, 2012 by Ectherion
In Germay the age of consent is 14. You could like it or not, but that is the fact.

I don't know what is the AoC in US, but I assume 16. Therefore maybe for u guys this is unacceptable... but hey, at this age they are already married in some contries.
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