Mass. Senate bill aims to ban sexual relationships between teachers, students

Mass. Senate bill aims to ban sexual relationships between teachers, students
BOSTON - JANUARY 2: Opponents of same-sex maarriage display signs outside the State House January 2, 2007 in Boston, Massachusetts. A special joint session of the Legislature is meeting today to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage. The yes or no decision will determine whether the issue of gay marriage will appear on a ballot and be decided by a vote of the people in 2008. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

BOSTON — In 2004, Dudley police investigating the sexual relationship a 30-year-old English teacher carried on with her student, a 16-year-old boy, believed that inappropriate behavior was also a crime.

It was not, Dudley Police Chief Steven Wojnar told the Education Committee on Tuesday.

Since 2005, Wojnar said he has been advocating for a new law to bar adults in authority from sexual relationships with teenagers and he has been perplexed about why lawmakers have not put a statute on the books.

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"Nobody's explained why," Wojnar told the News Service.

Salem Sen. Joan Lovely this session filed an omnibus bill (S 295) that specifically outlaws teachers and other school employees from sexually abusing a high school student, according to the State House News Service. Offenders could be punished with up to five years of imprisonment under the bill.

Lovely said she is unsure why the bill has not moved over the years, but she has a theory.

"I think this is such an uncomfortable subject that people don't want to talk about it," Lovely told the State House News Service.

Chief Wojnar is expected to testify before the Senate this week in support of the bill.