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Fort Lauderdale teacher faces allegations of sex with student

Charges of criminal sexual misconduct can destroy a person's reputation. With every state now required to maintain a sex offender registry, the damage can be lifelong for those who are convicted. This is the prospect now faced by a Fort Lauderdale high school teacher who faces felony charges of having a sexual relationship with an underage student.

The 33-year-old teacher has been employed at Stranahan High School since 2007. He teaches music and is also the school's band director. In April of this year, a school district police detective received information about the alleged inappropriate relationship. During their investigation, detectives interviewed the alleged victim, who told them the relationship began with text messages and escalated to sexual encounters.

The girl told police that the teacher would have her pulled from her class so she could come to his office where they would make out. The man is accused of taking the girl to his home, where the two of them would smoke pot and have sex. According to the alleged victim, the first sexual encounter took place on her seventeenth birthday.

These are serious charges that carry severe penalties. If convicted, the teacher will likely face a stiff prison sentence. When an adult has sexual relations with an underage person, the law views it as a form of rape, because the underage victim is legally incapable of giving consent. But it is critical to remember that, however heinous the alleged crime, this man is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

There appears to be room for reasonable doubt in this case. It is not unheard of for accusations like this to be fabricated. A teenage girl might make a false accusation against a teacher out of spite or jealousy. Witnesses who are predisposed to believe the alleged victim's story might view otherwise innocent conduct and assume the worst. An aggressive defense counsel can create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury and secure an acquittal.

Source: Sun-Sentinel, "Teacher accused of having sex with student, smoking pot with her," Tony Alanez, May 2, 2013

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