Primary and secondary school students spend more time with their teachers during the school year than anyone else, even their parents. Teachers are responsible for teaching core subjects, coaching sports and other extracurricular activities, and ensuring the student is prepared for promotion to the next grade and graduation.
Teachers often foster a special, lifetime relationship with their students. While most of these relationships are appropriate and encouraged, there has been an uptick of in inappropriate, sexual relationships between teachers and students in recent years.
According to Terry Abbott, the former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education, improper relationships between teachers and students becoming more common throughout the U.S. Abbott alleges there were 781 reported cases of teachers being accused or convicted of sexual relationships with students in 2014.
What is institutional sexual assault?
Any teacher, aid, or anyone employed, contracted by, or volunteering with a school engage in a sexual relationship or indecent contact with a student can be charged with institutional sexual assault. Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.2(a.2), person who is a volunteer, an employee of a school, or has direct contact with a student at a school can be charged with this offense if he or she engages in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, or indecent contact with a student of the school.
The statute was designed to protect minors and persons who might be injured or coerced or who are situated in relationships where consent might not be easily refused. Commonwealth v. Mayfield, 832 A.2d 418, 574 Pa. 460 (Pa., 2003). Institutional sexual assault charges are not limited to teachers.
Anyone who works directly with children through traditional employment, contract, or volunteer basis, including teacher aides, sports coaches, and dance instructors may be charged with institutional sexual assault.
Institutional sexual assault is a third degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 7 years imprisonment and a fine of no more than $15,000. Institutional sexual assault is a reportable sexual offense, which means a convicted person is required to register as a sex offender.
A conviction for institutional sexual assault also has several collateral consequences, including the surrender of any teaching license, prohibition from working directly with children, and termination of employment. Registration as a sex offender can also make it difficult to find future employment and housing.
Institutional Sexual Assault Cases in Chester County, Pennsylvania
Cases of institutional sexual assault have occurred in school districts throughout Pennsylvania, including the West Chester Area School District, Radnor Township School District, and surrounding areas. The high number of cases of institutional sexual assault has led to an overall distrust of teachers and school personnel facing allegations.
If you are a teacher, principal, aid, or other school personnel facing allegations of institutional sexual assault in Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Lancaster County, Philadelphia County, or any of the surrounding areas, it is important to consult an experienced sex crime defenses attorney.
The attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully defended several teachers and other school personnel in institutional sexual assault cases throughout Pennsylvania.
In 2015 the attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices defended a West Chester charter school teacher who was facing twelve criminal counts, including five counts of institutional sexual assault, following an alleged sexual encounter with a 17-year old student.
Despite the numerous charges against her, the attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices negotiated a favorable plea agreement. The teacher pled guilty only to one count of institutional sexual assault. The other eleven counts were dismissed. She was sentenced to five years of probation without incarceration.
Institutional Sexual Assault Cases in Radnor County, Pennsylvania
Institutional Sexual Assault can also occur outside a traditional school setting. Under Pennsylvania law, an employee or agent of a juvenile detention center, residential facility, or mental health institution can be charged with institutional sexual assault for engaging in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, or indecent contact with a minor inmate, detainee, patient, or resident.
In 2012 Ciccarelli Law Offices defended a mental health counselor who worked at a Radnor County residential facility for adolescent female who have experienced trauma or mental health issues. The mental health counselor faced three counts of institutional sexual assault and corruption of minors following an alleged sexual encounter with a 16-year old resident.
The attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices mounted an aggressive defense, which resulted in the exclusion of the accuser’s testimony, and subsequently all the criminal charges were dismissed.
The institutional sexual assault attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices possess the skills and experience to mount a strong and successful defense on your behalf if charged with institutional sexual assault.
Ciccarelli Law Offices has defended several teachers and school personnel throughout West Chester, Philadelphia, King of Prussia, Lancaster, Kennett Square, Radnor, Plymouth Square, Malvern, and the surrounding areas.
The attorneys understand the complexity and the stigma associated with institutional sexual assault cases. From the initial consultation the team of attorneys will work with you to achieve the best results based on the unique facts of your case.
Ciccarelli Law Offices zealously defends clients facing all sex crimes, including rape, sexual assault, statutory rape, and institutional sexual assault. Contact Ciccarelli Law Offices today at (610) 719-3200 for a confidential review of your case.
Commonwealth v. Cross
Commonwealth v. Hopkins
“More teachers are having sex with their students. Here’s how schools can stop them”, The Washington Post. Terry Abbott, January 2015.