This editorial appeared in The Tri-City Herald.
It ought to be a crime for a public school teacher to have sex with a student.
The state Legislature is considering legislation that would make the act a felony on the part of the teacher, even if the victim legally is an adult.
Lawmakers should approve it.
The state Court of Appeals recently ruled that existing state law is unconstitutionally vague on the issue of teachers having sex with students who are 18 or older.
The decision eliminated a protection for students that most people thought existed.
As a result, charges against at least two teachers – one of them former Richland High School band teacher Allan Eve– have been dropped.
It's no coincidence that companion bills were introduced in the House and Senate by two Richland Republicans – state Rep. Larry Haler and state Sen. Jerome Delvin.
The legislation would extend protections to all high school students up to age 21, which would protect the especially vulnerable population of older, developmentally disabled students.
Teachers have an unusually high degree of influence on their students. They mold and shape young minds. They inspire and motivate.
Unfortunately, those also are some of the ways predators groom their victims. When that happens, the guilty ought to be punished.