Legislation would charge teachers and others for sexually abusing 18-year-old students

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(The Center Square) – In Illinois, it is not illegal for an educator or staff member to have a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student, but some Republican lawmakers want to change that.

State Rep. Amy Elik, R-Alton, says school staff who sexually abuse 18-year-old students should face charges so she has filed House Bill 4241 in Springfield.

“This bill protects students ages 18 and older in high school by creating the offense of abuse of authority by an educator or authority figure,” said Elik.

The legislation would make abuse by a teacher involving sexual conduct a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class 4 felony for a subsequent offense.

Sponsors say criminal charges must be levied so that offenders cannot leave a job and move on to other opportunities where they could prey on children.

State Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said kids can’t afford to wait any longer for this issue to be addressed.

“There are unscrupulous teachers, I would even call them evil, who at ages 15, 16, and 17-years-old are grooming those young people so that when they turn 18, all of sudden they can have a relationship with them because now they turned 18 and there is no criminal charge,” Bryant said.

The bill unanimously passed the House last month. Elik called on the Illinois Senate to pass the bill before the end of spring session next week.

“This bipartisan bill has no vocal opposition and must move forward this session so students have the necessary protections they deserve,” Elik said.

The measure remains in a Senate committee. Legislators return to finish the final week of scheduled session Monday.

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