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We needed legislation for teachers not to have sex with students

Legislation passed in the Rhode Island legislature Tuesday will close a loophole in state law which allows teachers to have sexual relationships with students as young as 14, potentially leaving Massachusetts as the only state where such relationships are legal.

Most states where the age of consent is 16 have laws preventing teachers, and others in position of authority, from having sex with minors, even if the student is of the age of consent. Massachusetts and Rhode Island have not had such protections, making it legal in both states for teachers to sexually touch children as young as 14, with their consent, in a non-penetrative way.

The Rhode Island legislation, which has passed both the state House and Senate and is now awaiting a signature from the governor, would make it third degree sexual assault for someone in a position of authority to have a sexual relationship with minors.

Rhode Island state Sen. Jessica de la Cruz, R., sponsored the legislation in the Senate for three years, told Fox News Digital she hops its passage will prevent the sexual assault of students and enable the prosecution of those in power who take advantage of minors.

“As a mom first, now as a lawmaker, there is no greater priority than protecting our kids,” she said.

Erika Sanzi, a Rhode Island mom and education advocate, has been pushing similar legislation for five years in Rhode Island, and told Fox News Digital she believes several factors contributed to the legislation’s success this year. A primary factor, Sanzi said, was the teachers’ unions did not publicly oppose the bill, as they had done in the past.

Story continues at: No Sex with Teachers

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Joe Messina

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