NewsChannel 6 has been getting a lot of comments on Facebook wondering why 23-year old Lesley Douglas, a former Harlem High School teacher, was arrested when the student she’s accused of having sexual interactions with a 19-year old who is of age.
For example, Keith Grisco commented, “He’s of age. Should be no crime. Ethical? No…against school rules! Yes, but not a crime.”
Larry Diaz commented, “He’s 19… maybe an ethics violation or something…nothing criminal.”
However, it is criminal and it comes down to Georgia Code 17-10-6.2
“This is a high school student we’re talking about. Had this student not been at her school, had he been 19-years old and graduated, there wouldn’t be a case. But, when you’re a teacher in a supervisory position who could do something or make you do something, it’s against the law,” said Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan.
Flanagan says even if the 19-year old consented, Douglas is still the supervisor in her role as a teacher, so that’s why there are criminal charges against her, according to Georgia law.
“Consent is not a defense, not when they’re in a supervisory role,” said Flanagan.
The Georgia code doesn’t just involve schools.
Major Steve Morris with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office says this Georgia code applies to any person in a position of governmental authority over another person.
“In fact, we locked up a deputy jailer a few years ago for having inappropriate conduct and contact with two inmates. So, it’s not just a teacher law,” said Morris.
Some people asked on Facebook, “What about it happening off school property? Is that a crime?”
“That doesn’t matter either. They’re in the same school, she has supervisory or authority over those students in school,” said Morris.
The next step for Douglas, her case will be handed over to a Grand Jury.
District Attorney Natalie Paine has been aware of the incident and is waiting on the case file to proceed.
The Columbia County school system is speaking out on the training given to future teachers before they enter the classroom.
The Human Resources Department says incoming teachers must learn and adhere to a state code of ethics.
Then, the school system provides more ethics training.
The department says, in the case of Douglas, the allegations go strictly against the state and county’s ethics.
“It’s just unacceptable. It’s unacceptable. You’re an adult and you’re in charge. You’re talking about impressionable people, even though this person is a high schooler, 19-years of age. Still, that person is an adult,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Anthony Wright.
The school system says Douglas resigned from her position the day after the Harlem High School principal was made aware of the sexual allegations against Douglas and the 19-year old student.
NewsChannel 6 will continue to keep you updated on this developing story.