LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the state’s law banning sexual contact between teachers and students, finding that people 18 or older have a constitutional right to engage in a consensual sexual relationship.

The court sided with 38-year-old David Paschal, an Elkins High School history and psychology teacher who admitted having a five-month consensual sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student.

“Regardless of how we feel about Paschal’s conduct, which could correctly referred to as reprehensible, we cannot abandon our duty to uphold the rule of law when a case presents distasteful facts,” wrote Chief Justice Jim Hannah.

Attorneys for the state argued the law protects high school students from sexual advances of teachers who are in positions of authority. But the high court found the law was unconstitutional because it criminalized sexual conduct between consenting adults.

In a dissent, Justice Robert Brown said that the majority’s opinion will cause disruption in high schools because there will be nothing to prevent teachers from having sex with students who are 18 or older.

“This will cause significant disruption in our high schools and have a deleterious impact on education in general and the teacher-student dynamic in particular,” wrote Brown.

It is unclear if the state will appeal the ruling.

“We respect the Court’s decision, although we disagree with it,” wrote Aaron Sadler, spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel in an email. “We are currently evaluating our options, which include seeking a rehearing.”

Whether the ruling will or can be addressed through future legislation is also unclear.

“We’re reviewing the decision,” said Matt DeCample, spokesman for Governor Mike Beebe. “It’s way too early to talk about any immediate attempts at a legislative response.”

Paschal, who is serving a 30-year sentence, will have his convictions reversed and dismissed. His attorney, Casey Copeland, said his client was “vindicated by the Supreme Court.”

“I think that this case does not necessarily say a teacher can do that and keep their job,” said Copeland. “I think the loss of job and loss of teacher’s license might be appropriate for that, but it’s not appropriate to put someone in jail for 30 years.”

Several states have laws banning sexual content between teachers and students. Earlier this week, a Republican assemblywoman in California introduced a bill to create a law similar to what was just struck down in Arkansas. If the bill is successful, she said, California would be the 24th state to ban student-teacher sex. In some states, such affairs are a felony.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (100)
  1. Lazybum says:

    Even if they are still in fifth grade?

    1. Kevin says:

      Guess you missed the “finding that people 18 or older have a constitutional right to engage in a consensual sexual relationship” statement?

      1. Andrew P says:

        An 18 year old could be held back for 7 years and be in 5th grade. However, she probably wouldn’t qualify as a “competent” adult in that case.

      2. UyeahU says:

        I believe this was meant as a joke, as in 18 year olds in Arkansas schools still in the 5th grade. Sad it has to be explained.

      3. david says:

        And have you ever heard of conflict of interest?

      4. HotForTeacher says:

        More proof how orchestrated the news is. Unelected officials took over Washington and the media after the coup and cover up. Even most of the comments online are financed with your tax dollars. Big brother is trying to create the perception of public opinion while burying the truth. They think you can’t handle the truth. Fact of the matter is we have no democracy, president, and freedom of press is an illusion.

        Our next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin’s bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she’s not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren’t in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out.

        Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret for the biggest cover up in world history before it disappears forever much like me.

      5. CK says:

        Kevin said, “Guess you missed the “finding that people 18 or older have a constitutional right to engage in a consensual sexual relationship” statement”

        Guess you missed the Tenth Amendment.

    2. Jebediah_Springfield says:

      Too lazy; didn’t read?

      1. laffin'atcha says:

        18 year old fifth grader. can’t read so flat backing their way thru school…

  2. rex dart eskimo spy says:

    Almost makes me want to teach again.

    1. Duke Dearborn says:

      Have sex with the teacher and get an A+ .. what a great country OmeriKa is, turning out people that can pass the exam is they provide a slam.


    2. Josie says:

      It’s ARKANSAS, what do you expect? Probably all the judges on the Court are inbreeds and banging each other after court, too.

      1. Dean P says:

        Typical idiot thinking Arkansan’s are inbread. I don’t agree with the teacher / student relationship, but they are legally adults .An offended Arkansan.

  3. suibne says:

    ….or ….mighht be a whole lot of new applicatio0ns filled out to teach in Arkansas. Migtht be a good thing. Never kinow.

  4. DaveC says:

    There is something drastically wrong with our laws when, even the judge says:

    “Regardless of how we feel about Paschal’s conduct, which could correctly referred to as reprehensible, we cannot abandon our duty to uphold the rule of law when a case presents distasteful facts.”

    History has taught us those nations that abandoned GOD, were abandoned by GOD.

    1. Cam S. says:

      What exactly does GOD have to do with this? The “Virgin Mary” was most likely 15 or 16 when “GOD” got her pregnant. The idea that teenagers should not be having sex or marrying, even much older men, is a very recent phenomenon in modern culture. My great grandmother was 15 when she got married had her first child, and she is one of the most amazing women I ever had the privilege of meeting. The “GOD” that you are referring to is the one who designed females who are sexually mature by the time they are 13-16. Was your GOD wrong to do so?

      1. rufus2009a says:

        that was because the Used to die in their thirties dumkoff

    2. richhenk says:

      You should try Egypt or Syria, et al. Their laws all revolve around GOD, it should work great for you.

    3. Knight Hawkings says:

      Actually this is exactly the type of judge you want, you don’t want their personal feelings on case to cloud their legal judgment. People may not like it but this was a an entirely proper ruling. Now if the school wants to fire him over it for breach of employment contract or their own ethical standards that’s fine but it’s not a criminal act.

      1. candysniper says:

        Couldn’t agree more. Wish more people would recognize this and support intelligent jurisprudence instead of some of the incredibly stupid rulings passed down by less legally-constrained judges. It’s unethical, absolutely, and stinks and will, of course, be abused, but whether it’s legal or not shouldn’t be the question.

    4. Kevin D says:

      Let’s say I agree it should be a crime.

      And also that you’re qualified to know the minimum sentence it will take before God feels the court has not abandoned him:

      1. is 30 years too short or too long?
      2. would the death penalty be o.k.? If “no”, because it’s too severe or not severe enough?

      BTW-I know you know God’s will, but what marks did you get in history?

  5. ClumBaby says:

    This truly draws the line between what is illegal…..and gross.

  6. ConservativeProfessor says:

    Actually, this is a good development. If you can vote at age 18, then you can decide with whom you want to have sex. Which behavior has a greater impact on our country?

    1. george says:

      If you’re Ms. Fluke, it’s about evenly spread.

      1. Some Hick says:

        huh-huh huh, you said “spread”. How apropos

  7. John C says:

    Nothing states the school can’t hold him to ethical standards…May be “legal” but employers can have ethical rules and hold employees to them. Of course, he is part of a union….

    1. Kevin D says:


      You got that right.

      Saying he can’t be sentenced to 30 years doesn’t mean he gets to keep his job.

      Like a lot of constitutional rights they’ll keep you out of jail, but won’t keep you from getting fired (eg. telling your customers your competitor is better, refusing to incriminate yourself by answering the boss’ question on a work snafu, having sex with the boss mother (assumiing she’s at least 18).

    2. RenB says:

      He might not be part of a union any more….union busting going around as well.

  8. BillClinton says:

    It’s about time!

  9. Paradigm Shift says:

    Well, it is Bill Clinton’s home state so should anyone be surprised?

    1. bob68 says:

      I want you to know Arkansas is not a backward state. They just named the Little Rock airport the “Clinton International Airport”, and as far as I know all of Bill’s girls
      were over 16.

      Arkansas politicians are so proud of Slick Willie, even though Bill and Hill both got the heck out of Arkansas as soon as they had used it for a stepping stone to being super rich.

  10. JR says:

    It’s Arkansas, for pitty’s sake! Of course it’s okay. Heck, you know you’re in Arkansas when both Mother and daughter attend the same elementary school the same year. You can’t use DNA testing for crimes in Arkansas because — well, there’s only a few unique sets of DNA.

    1. Troy says:

      You’re making a joke about incest. Are you really so naive as to believe that incest results in a child with an identical genome to that of his/her parents? Perhaps you are a product of Arkansas schools?

      1. Carry says:

        Well, there are only about 150 last names there … so you do the genetic breakdown. J/K

  11. DR says:

    They can get practice providing sexual favors for grades before they enroll in a college now … excellent idea. Now the pervs will all start getting teaching certs and move to Arkansas …

  12. Bob says:

    What if the “teacher” dual enrolled and graduated early? I know people at work that are only 23 years old and have a master’s degree. They could easily get a job teaching. What I’m saying is that being a teacher doesn’t necessarily mean there is a huge age difference from their students.

  13. Jon B says:

    Why are you having sex with that girl?

    Hey she is over 18!

    Yes but she’s your daughter!

    It ok I live in Arkansas!

  14. pafrog says:

    Arkansas age of consent is 16 so that would make it legal for a teacher to have sex with a 16 year old student. the student in question was 18 but the actual age of consent is 16. The law forbidding persons of athourity from having a relationship with a student was to prevent young men and women from being coerced into a sexual relationship. Arkansas also has no age gap provision so a 60 year old teacher may now have legal sex with a 16 year old student.. We write the laws we live with but the courts tell us how.

  15. Kver says:

    The things Arkansas students can do to get their grades up, down, up, down, Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa+!

    It’s okay, Arkansas can’t become anymore of a laughingstock than it already is.

  16. caligula says:

    going to get my teacher’s certificate today.

  17. billslycat says:

    If companies can set a policy of no intra-office romances, why can’t a school simply make it policy? It doesn’t have to be a law. Is the teachers union objecting to such a policy? If a teacher has a romantic fling with a high school student, it should be grounds for firing, even if he or she has tenure.

  18. TexanPatriot says:

    This is better addressed in an employment setting, not as a criminal act.

    A school district should fire a teacher in breach of standards of conduct, but a 30 year sentence for sex with a former student who is the age of consent is going a bit too far.

    And the state “appealing”? Where would they appeal to? Federal courts do not “outrank” State courts. If Arkansas pursues a Federal ruling, then they are part of the problem and reason why Federalism has failed — they allow it to. Their supreme court spoke, end of appeals.

    1. Knight Hawkings says:

      Best comment yet.

    2. carrollcounty says:

      If the state supreme court based the ruling on the fed constitution then the AG can appeal to SCOTUS. Also, if the state can’t legally sanction the teacher under criminal law because it his constitutional right to engage in the behavior, then the state can also not sanction him by dismissal, or a pay cut, nor any other way because the state is, of course, a “state actor” under the 14th amendment. If that is what the ruling is based on. So no jail, no firing, no reprimand, no nothing unless contract law can provide a way to control this behavior – a dubious proposition at best. If the decision was based wholly or in part on the eight amendment then it would be a different story. I admit I haven’t read it yet, although I could probably write it by just guessing at the majority rationale.

      1. carrollcounty says:

        Well, I’ll reply to myself. I still can’t find the case online but I just read a better synopsis of it. Apparently it is based on Arkansas supreme court precedent (a ridiculous left wing substantive due process “privacy” decision but whatever) so TexanPatriot is indeed correct on that point. I stand corrected, by myself. I do find it not necessarily obvious that he can be fired or reprimanded for the same behavior though. Would that be the “least restrictive means” of carrying out the state’s interest? I don’t think we can say that will be the court’s holding in the future for sure. It is interesting that the Arkansas precedent for this holding is based on a strict scrutiny review – whereas L v. TX was partly based on rational basis review (O’ Connor).

  19. SamEagle says:

    I heard Clinton is applying for a job at Little Rock High School

  20. bytejockey says:

    Just because a court has declared this conduct legal does not imply it is wise, nor should it prevent the school system from firing the teacher in question if this behavior violates school policy.

  21. Frank hackett says:


  22. Jack 63 says:

    Putting in my teaching application to the Univ of Arkansas today!

  23. george says:

    How do such relations affect the teacher’s ability or inclination to treat ALL his students impartially? Doesn’t matter, huh?

  24. When Courts Go WILD says:

    Totally outrageous! I suppose Arkansas will next pass a law that it’s OK for psychotherapists to have such relations with their patients, as long as both are “consenting adults”!? Haven’t they ever heard of “power over” and the deleterious effects of a “person of authority” having intimate relations with a “subordinate”? Oh, yeah, they HAVE heard of it! It was clearly pointed out in the referenced court case.

    What a bunch of backwards neanderthals!!

    1. Rationality says:

      This law doesn’t state that you can’t fire a teacher for doing this. This is just saying that if you are a teacher, and have consensual sex with someone 18 or older, you don’t go to prison for 30 years.

      Teachers will be fired and their teaching licenses suspended, but they don’t deserve to go to prison for this.

      Someone who murders someone can be released after 25 years, but someone who has consensual sex with an adult should serve longer?

      That seems backwards to me.

  25. GETREAL says:

    It all depends on what IS is…

    –famous quote from someone who hailed from ARKANSAS

  26. LIBERTY NOW says:

    Keep your children away from the government schools , problem solved.

    1. Bill E Bob says:

      There ya’ go. Best answer yet.

    2. Boondogler says:

      So so true….stay away from everything government and you’ll end up in a better place.

  27. D. stelzried says:

    Great! Yet another reason for the rest of the country to say that AR is just another stupid southern state. Yes…stay away from public, ie government schools.

    Children do not have fully developed frontal lobes (brain) that allow them to be fully aware of the consequences of their actions.. Now they get to be exposed to adults who should be protecting them instead of abusing this reality.

  28. Roberts says:

    By extension anyone in charge of, has a supervisory role or is an authority figure can engage in sexual activity with their charges as long as they are of age. This would extend to professions as psychiatrists, doctors, prison guards, etc and wouldn’t one not strongly suspect grades, treatments, recommendations, rewards, etc to be subjective to the sexual activity enjoyed. How long will it be before former students, patients, etc claim intimidation and feeling forced into such positions(definition of rape). Further, such permitted activity is a recruitment tool for pedophiles. Even though the age of permitted sex is 18yrs–the normal close social interaction of these 18yr olds while still in school is with younger classmates and friends exposing them to such relationships..

    1. Bob says:

      Sexual Harrasement laws still apply. As for exposing younger students to “such relationships” you need to get out of the 20th century. The recently reported average age for first viewing pornographic material involving “full penartration” is 11 for males and 14 for females. I think by the time they get to high school they’ve been exposed.

  29. Aperson says:

    Well, for now they can and should be let go over such actions. I assume that it won’t be long however before the argument is made that it’s legal so they should not be allowed to fire me.

  30. byrd5 says:

    I think the judge made a good point toward the end. This isn’t an issue of whether or not the teacher should be fired, it’s an issue of whether on not he/she should serve jail time. Yes, they ought to be fired. But, should they be incarcerated for 30 years? I think probably not.

    That said, I do not endorse teacher/student affairs – or extra marital sex for that matter.

  31. vahawker says:

    30 YEARS IN PRISON FOR HAVING SEX WITH A CONSENTING ADULT??!?!? And others kill people and only get a few years. Twisted world we live in.

  32. Bob says:

    “It is unclear if the state will appeal the ruling”? Appeal to who? It’s the state Supream Court striking down a state law. Done deal, Finne, the end!

  33. Scotty Gunn says:

    Having sex with the teacher in Arkanas is okay, and common. Even with students who are home schooled ……( rimshot)

  34. Frank Cotton says:

    There’s nothing wrong with this ruling. It’s perfectly legal for teachers to have sexual relationships with students of legal age- hence the concept of ‘consenting adults’. It’s also perfectly legal for schools to have a policy that they will fire any teacher who has sex with a student- the problem is the teachers unions that refuse to allow teachers to be punished for inappropriate conduct, not the courts who refuse to make up laws out of thin air.

  35. Tom says:

    As soon as a girl turns 18 she is an adult. She can go and be taped having a ‘gang bang’ with a dozen people of a different race ages 18 to 100+.
    So what makes a teacher any different from someone she met off the street? They do have an unfair advantage and influence, so rather than make it a crime….adjust their precious union rules and make it easier to get fired if they choose to do that.

  36. Doug says:

    OK i am a little confused by the people that are opposed to this…

    the courts didn’t say you can’t fire him… they said you can’t throw him in jail.

    do you REALLY think Jail is the appropriate answer for sex between consenting adults?

  37. Crotte says:

    Well now these mensa will also allow incest why not????? Some of them are probably the products of it.

  38. Desmond says:

    Actually, in Arkansas, I believe this is OK even if you are home schooled.

    1. Some Hick says:

      I think so too. — OH, and if a couple from Arkansas get divorced, Are they still brother and sister???

  39. CK says:

    Though the federal government would have no authority to restrict sex with students – there being no such power given in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution – the court is incorrect to assert that Arkansas does not have the authority.

    I refer the court to the Tenth Amendment which has no qualifier concerning sex.

  40. LydiaLydia says:

    The teacher/student relationship should never be crossed to include personal relationships. With the rampant predatory nature of so many teachers now days, this is a big green light for the perverts. There is something mentally wrong with an “adult” that can relate on the level of an 18 yr old. clearly their attraction is sexual self interest or they are mentally stunted and have not matured.

  41. Wild Bill says:

    That’s what they call “extra credit”.

  42. rex dart eskimo spy says:

    does this apply to homeschooling? If so I hope mom teaches me a lesson soon.

    1. Troy says:

      Yo bro, that’s kind of weird, bro.

  43. Slam1263 says:

    I fhe had been female. he would have gotten probation.

  44. John C says:

    More evidence that liberalism is a mental disorder. “By the way, your homework and test scores make you eligible for and A, but unless you have sex with me, you’re getting an F.”

  45. Boondogler says:

    Arkansas, Clinton, cousins marrying cousins, enough said….

  46. Mass says:

    But only if they’re cousins, right?

  47. Vanessa says:

    Wow and most of you claim Arkansas is a redneck state. Guess the educational standards that back fact instead of opinion only exist in Arkansas Schools. Fact is 18 is an adult. Most students are 18 during their senior years in high school. They can join the military and die for their country but most of you think they can’t make a decision as to whom to have sex with? Wow. They aren’t inbred. I don’t agree with teachers having relations with minors, but we are talking about an adult in this case. The ethical board will put things into effect that will stop this from happening I am sure of that. But you want to take someone’s life away for 30 years for having sex with an adult? At least the courts aren’t as backwards as most of you seem to think. Last I read the facts stated these two were not related either so the inbred comments only reflect badly on the poster who is stupid enough to actually believe Arkansas is inbred and not intelligent enough to be literate and comprehend what is written. It has nothing to do with God or religion, whom last I check advocated very young girls being married off to breed. So those with that view may want to spend some time reading the bible instead of posting on things they don’t comprehend. If I found out my 18 year old son was sleeping with his teacher or my 18 year old daughter was sleeping with their teacher I’d be asking if they were using condoms, not asking for a jail sentence. If I didn’t raise my kids well enough to make smart decisions that is on me as a parent. Maybe some of you need to take some personal responsibility for your child raising.

    1. Boondogler says:

      Any time you have a person of power and authority initiating sex with a subordinate you are asking for trouble. Get a grip Vanessa…your “open” mind is a bit drafty….

      1. Vanessa says:

        Guess you have to turn to insulting intelligence since you have no real thought process here but I’ll excuse the fact that you are a sheep with no will power. Most people are not so week willed. No matter the authority. If they are raised correctly they don’t engage in things like this. You claiming that people of power and authority initiating sex is bound to happen is true people in authority abuse their power all the time, however I’m of the bringing up that good people don’t fall into being manipulated. Apparently you were raised differently. Being open minded and tuned into reality makes no one drafty however I think the word you were looking for is DAFT. I’m neither. I’m a realist who teaches my children to behave properly, not to engage in sexual conduct and to always do what is right even when it isn’t popular. I have a “grip” why don’t you get an education. If a child will engage is sex for a better grade or anything else they have been raised to be a weak willed child. Kids like that fall into sex, drugs and delinquent behavior. That is reality. Raise your kids to make good solid ethical decisions and not to be bullied by people in authority and power and you won’t have those kinds of problems. However this report, which you obviously did not read is about an 18 year old, an adult who slept with a teacher and the judgement of the court. All you have offered is an opinion based on your very limited understanding of the world that states nothing more then an unproven statement. How about instead of assuming it’s asking for trouble you advocate parents raising decent people who will be assets to the community and not make the choice to sleep with their teachers?

  48. Stu says:

    Why did this need to go to court? Its common sense. Ohhhh, I forgot about the fundies.

  49. rufus2009a says:

    since it IS Arkansas….do they have to be first cousins for the sex?

  50. RTR says:

    I bet these “consenting” students will get an A+ for the course.

    It is called “grade prostitution”

  51. Don says:

    “The high court found the law was unconstitutional because it criminalized sexual conduct between consenting adults.”

    So does this mean Arkansas prostitution laws are also unconstitutional?

  52. huufarted says:


    The law already recognizes “Power Imbalances” as wrong in sexual relations in the workplace via Sexual Harassment lawsuits. This is essentially the same concept in Student/Teacher sexual activities.

    I guess School Boards need to ensure this doesnt happen via Contractual Agreement since the courts have lost their minds and common sense…

  53. Clearhead says:

    Was the 18 year old that Davey boy had the affair with, male or female? (Not that it seems to matter much in Arkansas). Yeah,Slick Willie sure left his footprint in that state.

  54. dwees says:

    “In a dissent, Justice Robert Brown said that the majority’s opinion will cause disruption in high schools because there will be nothing to prevent teachers from having sex with students who are 18 or older.”

    How about their moral values? Just because something is legal doesn’t make it moral. I hate the implication that all teachers are going to get involved in this kind of nonsense.

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