For some lawyers, there really aren't any lines you won't cross.

And that's precisely what happened in this story out of California, where an attorney defending a school district against claims that it was negligent in failing to prevent the statutory rape of a 14 year-old student by her 28 year-old teacher publicly stated that

“She lied to her mother so she could have sex with her teacher…She went to a motel in which she engaged in voluntary consensual sex with her teacher. Why shouldn’t she be responsible for that?”

Here's the point:

This lawyer's comments weren't just insensitive; they are far worse. They trivialize one of the bedrock principles of our nation's laws: to protect society's most vulnerable, including our children.

There's a reason it's designated as a criminal offense, statutory rape, to have sexual relations with a minor. In their wisdom, legislatures across the country have long recognized that children require special protections, because they lack the maturity to make certain life decisions. That is why, for example, a court must typically sign off on the propriety of a settlement of a minor's lawsuit, and it why a minor cannot "consent" to having sexual relations with someone who is markedly older than they, as occurred in this case (yes, the teacher was sentenced to three years' jail time).

To be clear, I am all for an adversary arguing his client's case vigorously. But there really should be some lines you don't cross.

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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