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August 18, 2012

Intriguing jury sentence in Texas for female teacher having group sex with (adult) students

There are so many intriguing elements to this local sentencing story out of Texas, I am not sure which part most merits commentary.  Here are the basics:

A former Kennedale High School teacher was sentenced to five years in prison Friday evening after Tarrant County prosecutors asked jurors to show moral outrage that she treated students like a "buffet of possible sexual partners."

Earlier Friday, the jury of seven men and five women deliberated less than an hour before convicting Brittni Colleps, 28, of 16 felony counts of improper relationship between an educator and student.   According to testimony, Colleps, a married mother of three, had sex with five male students, four of them 18 and one 19, several times at her Arlington home in spring 2011.  The jury was shown sexually explicit text messages and watched a cellphone video of Colleps having group sex with four of the students.

In the sentencing phase, her family, her attorneys and one of the students asked for the minimum sentence of probation, saying Colleps has been punished enough.  She needed to be home with her children -- girls ages 8 and 6 and a boy age 5 -- all of whom have acute asthma and allergies, they said....

Prosecutors asked for the maximum of 20 years on each count and a $10,000 fine.  "You don't have a crime captured on videotape very often, and that is what you have here," prosecutor Elizabeth Beach said.

She was graphic in reminding jurors of the sexual encounters.  The students did not wear condoms on the night the video was made, Beach said.  She described the amount of body fluids and possible diseases exchanged during the night as "staggering and it is disgusting. It's completely disgusting."...

The jury deliberated the sentence for a little less than three hours.  Although Colleps was technically given five years on each of 16 counts, the sentences will run concurrently.

Defense attorney Lex Johnston said Colleps must serve a year to 2.5 years before she is eligible for parole. Johnston, who worked with Cynthia Fitch, said:  "I think the jury will probably regret what they did. Nothing we can do about it.  The jury spoke.  We have some legal issues to work on later on down the road and we'll see what happens." He said the sentence sends the message that Texas is "too conservative for our own good." The Supreme Court will eventually tell Texas to back out of people's lives and bedrooms, he said.

"These were not boys. These were not children. These were grown men who connived, conspired, worked with each other to be with this woman whose husband was away serving the military," Johnston said.

Beach and co-prosecutor Tim Rodgers called the verdict "very fair." Prosecutors never offered Colleps a plea bargain because, Beach said, "we wanted a Tarrant County jury to evaluate and as the moral conscience of the community say this is what we think of this kind of behavior and we got a very clear message from the jury."...

Christopher Colleps was serving in the military outside the area when the crimes occurred. Frequently breaking into tears, he acknowledged that he and his wife, who have been married for nine years, had engaged in group sex with another adult couple while living in Louisiana.

The last year has been "pretty rough," he said, but he will stand by his wife. "I feel like what she did was morally and ethically wrong. I feel like she has hurt me and my children, but I feel that's between me and her and God."...

According to a news release from the Tarrant County district attorney's office, at least five cases of improper relationship between an educator and a student have been prosecuted in Tarrant County since the law was enacted in 2003.

I find two aspects of prosecutorial discretion especially notable here:  (1) though it appears no offense facts were really in dispute, prosecutors apparently did not want to pursue any plea deal because they wanted a jury to send a message via sentencing; and (2) the prosecutors asked the jury to send a message through the most severe possible prison term of 20 years imprisonment.

I am generally supportive of decision (1) by the prosecutors here, especially because it seems hard to predict ex ante just what community sentiment might be on whether and how much to punish this teacher for group sex with her (adult) students.  But I am generally critical of decision (2) by the prosecutors here, especially because a 20-year term would likely mean this offender would be in prison for much of the prime of her life (and her kids' entire childhoods) despite posing little or no real risk to the community. 

I suspect prosecutors in this case requested a 20-year term not because they considered such a long term necessary, but rather because they wanted to push the jury to impose some significant prison time.  But I always find very troublesome such an inflationary approach to sentencing advocacy coming from prosecutors, especially in a case like this in which we are dealing with consentual sexual encounters among adults.

August 18, 2012 at 04:18 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Consensual sexual activity between adults and five years in prison typically don't go well together. I'm sure the students feel pretty bad about what happened to her as well.

She shouldn't be a teacher--that's for sure, but this seems to be to be a vast waste of lives, resources and a prison bed.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 18, 2012 6:10:24 PM

federalist --

My take on it corresponds to yours. These prosecutors must have had a good deal more time on their hands than I did when I was an AUSA.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 18, 2012 9:43:33 PM

I hate to be repetitive, the stupidity of the lawyer is always with us. It cannot be shaken. This prosecution violates Lawrence v Texas, the Supremacy Clause, and ordinary common sense about limited resources to prosecute dangerous criminals. One can only conclude: the feminist lawyer and its male running dogs are pursuing their sicko agenda, to prove they are fair, and willing to prosecute female teachers.

In Pennsylvania, the feminist running dog prosecutor who prosecuted a girl for sexting herself in a bath towel showing no body parts was booted out of office the next election. Her parents spent $40,000 on appeal to reverse the verdict and sentence.

I strongly support the formation of direct action groups against the lawyer profession, a criminal cult enterprise seeking the destruction of our way of life. Night riders (in Camaros, not on horseback) should hunt these lawyers, tie them to a tree outside the court, and lash them 50 times. Leave them for employees of the court to see on the way to work the next morning. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 18, 2012 10:03:29 PM

This is not merely "consensual sexual encounters among adults" but a teacher having group sex with students. Other than her losing her job, that doesn't seem to impress much here, but stopping teachers from having sex with students is a serious concern. It is not just a firing offense.

Yes, they are adults, but there is a line not to be crossed there, and that includes having teachers at high schools not have sex with students. The path to having sex with students a few months younger (seventeen) is not that far away. 20 years is way too much, but probation seems a bit too trivial. That is for "felony counts of improper relationship between an educator and student."

It is not a "victimless crime" (article) that parents cannot trust teachers won't have sex with their sons and daughters. Parents should be able to expect that teachers a decade or more older than the students involved won't have sex with them, including the unsafe sex of this sort. This is more worthy of concern then various cases that actually go to trial, such as some lesser drug offense or some first time property crime where the prosecutor is trying to send a message.

It is unfortunate that some agreement could not be made, but it is not surprising that prosecutors didn't think probation was enough.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 18, 2012 10:20:19 PM

[or is it different given the age difference is six-eight years? where do we draw that line? I also think some would think differently if it was a male teacher.]

Posted by: Joe | Aug 18, 2012 10:22:27 PM

The case does not violate Lawrence v. Texas. The case specifically excepts those relationships where consent can be a problem and educator/student can be such a category. Ditto therapists and patients and so forth.

If a thirty-five year old male teacher had group sex with five female students of the same age and there is law against teachers having sex with students, would it be a travesty if the male teacher was criminally prosecuted? I think parents should have the peace of mind to know their children's (sic) teachers at high school won't have sex with them especially as part of an orgy.

Wait until they get out of school. Have sex then. Fornication is protected by Lawrence v. Texas.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 18, 2012 10:29:24 PM

I don't think anyone was euphemizing what went on here--but parents' concerns really aren't an issue, IMO, when the child is 18. Yeah, I don't want my son (when he's 18) to get herpes from some swinger teacher who has the hots for him and a bunch of his friends--but I also don't particularly care for criminal penalties for adult/adult consensual sex either, and at 18, it would be up to my kids to make the right choices, and I would not expect imprisonment for a consensual encounter between him and some 28 year old teacher. Quite honestly, I would not consider him a victim, and I would wonder about a prosecutor who decides that he or she is going to use my son to send this woman to prison. Some of the grown men probably feel pretty bad about the kids not having a mom for a while, and I am sure some are embarrassed to have the details of their encounter spilled all over the place.

And they chose not to wear the condom.

This is an example of overcriminalization. And it's an example of prosecutors who want to send a message without regard for the so-called victims. Ms. Colleps is dissolute and obviously has issues. But I have a very difficult time giving a rat's ass about her sexual practices with consenting adults.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 18, 2012 10:42:27 PM

"I think parents should have the peace of mind to know their children's (sic) teachers at high school won't have sex with them especially as part of an orgy."

I do too. But at 18, I don't believe that expectation should be backed up by 20 years in prison.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 18, 2012 10:54:13 PM

I call on the prosecutor and on the judge responsible for allowing this frivolous prosecution to proceed to resign immediately.

It is a tragedy that the vile, self-dealing, internal traitor lawyers on the Supreme Court have refused to grant the owner of the law, the taxpayer, standing to sue for tax payer fraud and wasted by the rent seeking lawyer. Because there is no legal recourse against the self dealing lawyer profession, violence has full justification in formal logic, ethics, and policy. Indeed, violence against this criminal syndicate in total control of our government may be a duty to nation.

If the judge of this case is elected, he should be booted by the voters. Same for the District Attorney.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 18, 2012 11:06:46 PM

Joe: Eugene Volokh has analyzed Lawrence in the case of licensed health workers.

http://www.volokh.com/2007/01/08/sex-and-the-massage-therapist/

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 18, 2012 11:17:52 PM

my problem with is. is where is the companion prosecutions for the boys. each was over the age of consent...even the federal one. Each was old enough to be drafted and go into the military.

Sorry in my book if it's illegal for one to do it. it's illegal for BOTH!

Once texas was stupid enough to make it illegal for student's to have sex with teachers.... once they turned 18 and did it THEY also comitted a crime!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 18, 2012 11:29:05 PM

Three former students who testified Thursday said that they did not consider themselves victims and did not want to see their former English teacher prosecuted. The three were football and track athletes.

Arlington police Detective Jason Houston testified that charges were filed because "18 or not, it's a crime" for a teacher to have sex with her students.

Two former students told jurors their relationships with Colleps began with the exchange of text messages that quickly turned sexual.

A 19-year-old testified that he had gone to Colleps' home twice with friends and they all engaged in sexual conduct.

A former student who is now 20 testified that he engaged in group sex and recorded his last encounter on a cellphone. He said initially the students spoke of the importance of keeping their activities quiet because they didn't want their teacher to get in trouble.

The 20-year-old also said when school officials called him into the office to question him in May 2011, he denied the trysts at first because "I was trying to save her."

Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Ex-teacher-gets-5-year-prison-term-for-student-sex-3794999.php

Posted by: Winston Smith | Aug 19, 2012 3:03:25 AM

"I am generally supportive of decision (1) .... But I am generally critical of decision (2) by the prosecutors here ..."

Is "community sentiment" really guaranteed to be reflected by a jury? I suspect a jury can be "influenced" by community sentiment, most commonly by media reporting/pressure ... which may or may not truly reflect the community view. The law itself has probably not been arrived at by community sentiment but by political dogma. But I entirely agree that the call by prosecutors for a 20 year sentence is beyond all reason, whatever their motives. The prosecution probably got what they wanted (5 years), but what they wanted is an inexcusable intrusion into private adult life at the expense of the principle of freedom and liberty, which is supposed to be the national anthem. It is cynical of course to try to compare this with the Russian Pussy Riot case ... but the bottom line is the lengths those in power will go to stamp out behavior deemed "deviant". All states and their representatives, especially those who claim to represent a "democracy", have a duty to minimize the exercise of power where it is in danger of infringing the rights of privacy and free expression/choice. The victims here are not only the teacher, but those adult students who will now carry a collective guilt for what was for them an adult, private, sexual game. I happened to listen in to a radio discussion yesterday between lawyers, clergy, philosophers and politicians as part of a series entitled Understanding Human Dignity. This case is one where they might have agreed the law could be said to both infringe personal autonomy and to be enforced with a base disregard for the rights of individual human dignity. The law should be very wary of sexual moralizing at the costly expense of both.

Posted by: peter | Aug 19, 2012 5:14:50 AM

Re teacher/student coitus when both age 18 or over .

Oh, the ƒhumanity³ ‼²

What if she at age 28 taught students age 41 ? or 51 ? or 61 ? or 71 ?

The adult students were old enough to earn a Medal of Honor in combat .

Thank your favorite Deity or non-Deity that I was not a tabloid reporter in Texas:

Would a tabloid question such as

Is it not true , Ms. Beach , that you were overheard at a local Texas ♀ Bar Association meeting with the Texas Women Against Hot Teachers ○ Bedding Hunk Football Playing Students (TWAHT ○ BHFPS) , asking ,

  Where were all the horny hunk adult students when I was a graduate teaching assistant working for law school tuition ?! ;

and that the real reason for your Draconian sentence request in this case , is a semi-repressed jealousy rage ? ;

be an abuse of journalist discretion or a gross abuse of said discretion ?

What if the prosecutor HAD made such a remark and was serious ?

☺ Why do such teachers seek jocks and not geeks ?

Geeks have feelings also . ☺

Docile Jim Brady - Columbus OH

Posted by: Anon. 2.71828 | Aug 19, 2012 5:29:36 AM

Recommended reading for the lawyer dumbass:

http://www.amazon.com/Feminist-Accused-Sexual-Harassment-Public/dp/0822319187/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345376370&sr=1-1&keywords=jane+gallop

"...Gallop tells the story of how and why she was charged with sexual harassment and what resulted from the accusations. Weaving together memoir and theoretical reflections, Gallop uses her dramatic personal experience to offer a vivid analysis of current trends in sexual harassment policy and to pose difficult questions regarding teaching and sex, feminism and knowledge.
Comparing “still new” feminism—as she first encountered it in the early 1970s—with the more established academic discipline that women’s studies has become, Gallop makes a case for the intertwining of learning and pleasure. Refusing to acquiesce to an imperative of silence that surrounds such issues, Gallop acknowledges—and describes—her experiences with the eroticism of learning and teaching. She argues that antiharassment activism has turned away from the feminism that created it and suggests that accusations of harassment are taking aim at the inherent sexuality of professional and pedagogic activity rather than indicting discrimination based on gender—that antiharassment has been transformed into a sensationalist campaign against sexuality itself."

The author had her fun with the faculty as a grad student and was the better for it. She was so brilliant, at such a young age, the faculty probably benefited more than she did.

I find Twilight Zone grade irony in this. The format of the brief and or IRAC came from Peter Abelard. He is best known in history not for his brilliant Scholasticist formats and disputations, but for his affair with his equally brilliant and gorgeous 16 year old pupil, Heloise. Her family sent thugs to castrate him using non-surgical technique. His students caught the rascals, and did the same to them. So after 700 years, the lawyer has made some progress in the management of teacher-student sex. Not much, but some.

Their letters are still read today.

http://www.amazon.com/Letters-Abelard-Heloise-Peter/dp/1619492598/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345377210&sr=1-1&keywords=abelard+and+heloise

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 19, 2012 7:55:02 AM

federalist, first, I said a 20 year sentence is ridiculous. The issue for me is if anything more than probation would be. As to "euphemizing," I think so. This is not merely "consensual adult" sex. She was a teacher. There is added responsibility there and an age/power differential. This is why teachers are not allowed to have sex with students in high school. And, parents still have some role in their sons/daughters lives while they are in high school, down to often paying the way. Part of this is knowing teachers aren't having sex w/students.

I looked at the VC link. He recognized the logic of a rule for therapists etc. but thought "massage therapists" provided a weaker interest, but the specific issue there was that the rule went beyond the time you are a patient. As I said, if the students had sex with the teacher after they graduated, that would have been different. So, the "finer" line he was concerned about could very well entail only applying it to therapists not of the massage variety or only while the person is actually having sessions. This doesn't really refute my argument Lawrence doesn't protect student/teacher relationships, at the very least, drawing the line at high school.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 19, 2012 10:30:25 AM

Joe, you don't read very carefully, do you. First off, the issue is not whether parents of 18 yos can expect that teachers won't have sex with them--of course they can--the issue is whether that expectation should be backed up with a criminal penalty such as this one. Second, everyone here is pretty much acknowledging the tawdry aspect of this. It IS important to remember that these 18 yos are adults.

She shouldn't be a teacher and probably should get some sort of counseling because she has issues. And given that the victims don't want to press charges, the prosecution's actions seem to be very counterproductive.

At the end of the day, I have a hard time caring about this. She should have been fired. That's it.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 19, 2012 10:46:55 AM

The Supreme Court has supported the police power of the states. They may enact any rule they wish, and the insurmountable rational basis test will be applied to them. The Supreme Court is always biased in favor of its employer, the government, a wholly owned subsidiary of the CCE.

You may be right that the case may withstand a Lawrence challenge.

I also agree that if the expectation that teachers will not have sex with students is damaged in the public, they will not want to send their kids to school.

Here are the problems.

1) No damage, no complaint by the victims. The victims likely thought they benefited if I can project male thinking to the victims, not just the sexual favor, but the attention and resulting esteem. Crimes should cause a damage.

2) Prosecution need cover for the feminist witch hunt of the productive male. The case is driven by the need for the appearance of virtue, that "we prosecute all teachers, even female ones."

3) Waste of resources of the prosecution, the court, the prisons. This matter should have been handled administratively within the school district.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 19, 2012 11:46:20 AM

Can you imagine how embarrassed these "victims" must be to have their dirty laundry aired in public?

Posted by: Gray R. Proctor | Aug 19, 2012 12:14:11 PM

The defendant clearly violated the sensibilities of a prosecutor who appears to have unresolved sexual issues of her own.

And no ethical teacher would have sex with a student, adult or not, so losing the job and incurring the scorn of the community are probably givens.

But somebody help me please, how does consensual sex among adults in 2012 amount to felonious conduct? Because some ass-clown Texas pols say so? Shame on the court for letting this tyrannical government overreach play out under its authority.

This prosecution and conviction provides further evidence (if more were needed) the evolution of the police state is well under way.

Kudos to federalist and Bill for exhibiting the capacity to be reasonable.

Posted by: John K | Aug 19, 2012 12:16:04 PM

I concur in the comments above by Federalist.

Posted by: Stanley Feldman | Aug 19, 2012 12:33:01 PM

i'm with the rest. sorry joe your so far out on that limb you can't even see the tree trunk!

yea her conduct was wrong for a teacher. But the way this stupid law is written these retards could also charge a 28 year old teacher for having sex with a 50 year old returning collage student that is NOT under thier supervison.

THAT is both criminal and RETARDED!

Even FLORIDA was retarded enough to do that! They only get bent out of shape if the teacher in question is THEIR teacher or at the same school. Absent that as long as both are legal age...who cares!

We have 10,000 bigger problems then when or if two LEGAL age CITIZENS ARE FUCKING!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 19, 2012 2:29:20 PM

I wonder, under Texas law will this "monster" have to register as a sex offender? And if so, for how long? Ten year? Twenty? Multiple "victims", so life maybe?

As ridiculous and immoral a prosecution as there ever has been.

Posted by: Guy | Aug 19, 2012 5:43:36 PM

how long? LIFE of course!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 19, 2012 10:51:35 PM

First, let me say upfront that I asked a female teacher I know and it is her opinion that the teacher should just be fired. That wasn't the sentiment of the people of Texas, but so be it.

Second, Federalist, please stop with the "you don't read carefully" bit. You said that once the person is 18 that it would largely being his (or her) responsibility. Others are talking about how they are old enough to fight and how it might even be a violation of Lawrence v. Texas. The OP talks about how it is about, full stop, consensual sex among adults. The "tawdry" nature of it is not even a united concern here -- the concern overall is actually on the state for bringing the case. That is the concern really.

You are having trouble "caring" about this. I don't have trouble "caring" about a teacher having sex with five students. I think it is "important" to remember she is a teacher and didn't just have sex with one student. No. Not two. No. Five. And, it was on tape. If some sixteen or seventeen year old was involved, I doubt they would want to press charges a lot of times either. Teachers shouldn't have sex with students and just losing their job, which would happen for any number of reasons, including missing too much work or maybe using drugs seems a bit too trivial to me.

If she had to serve a few months in jail or weekends or house arrest or whatever, it would be okay with me. But, I'm in the minority here. That's fine.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 20, 2012 2:04:58 AM

BTW, I'm all for the prosecution side of this blog being all reasonable but maybe if it was some pot offender, reasonableness could be consistently shown too.

A final word. It is noted that the law is overbroad so that it would apply to those "NOT under their supervision." Not my concern here. If that is a problem with the law, fine. Not the case here. The case here, just to be clear, is that if a fifty year old male teacher had sex with five females and even got two pregnant, he should be fired and pay child support, but that's it. The power differential and special responsibility of a teacher does not warrant a day in jail. That's the agreement here. I'm all for majority rule. So be it.

It still should be underlined that there are various cases where there is not true consent, Lawrence v. Texas citing this, and I'm not sure it would be a "police state" to provide criminal penalties of some sort in certain cases. Psychiatrist and rape victim. Police officer and prisoner. Probation officer and parolee. Apparently not thirty something male teacher and eighteen year old student. Even if they are legal age for [deleted].

Posted by: Joe | Aug 20, 2012 2:18:25 AM

I suppose, Joe, you could continue to amp up your hypotheticals to the point we'd all agree execution was the only fitting punishment for this hussy extraordinaire...who had SEX...with FIVE students...any of whom MIGHT have caught something from her.

Posted by: John K | Aug 20, 2012 9:23:07 AM

Joe, the "read carefully" was directed at your apparent ignorance of my point about parents' expectations. No responsible parent would want this for their young adult son. I know I wouldn't. And I realize that I'm usually not too nuanced, but the nuance here is important--I don't think that expectation is to be backed up with criminal penalties. You elide over that.

I agree with you that the "police state" stuff is a bit overblown, but this issue, i.e., teachers and adult HS students having sex is overcriminalization. And you overblow the power asymmetry in this particular case. These adults were eager participants in the gangbang (so much for euphemism).

And you're right--the concern is on the prosecution. Forget about the harm to the teacher's kids. What about the harm to the victims? Think they liked being in front of all those people watching them act like that? Think they liked feeling somewhat responsible for the harm that befell Ms. Colleps and her family?

This was a dumb prosecution and a waste.

I happen to think that adult female/juvenile male sexual relations can and should generally be a lesser crime than adult male/juvenile female sexual relations. But at 18, I tend to think that people are on their own when it comes to things like that. Yeah, I'd be plenty mad if some 50 year old teacher were sleeping with 18 yo my daughter--but, I would not want him criminally punished, for any number of reasons--not the least of which is that she's an adult and can and should make her own decisions. (Obviously, way different issue if there is any sort of coercion.) This prosecution, and your comments, have a surreal quality to them---you are talking about a power asymmetry that really isn't there, and victims who really aren't. If one of my kids does something stupid like this, then they simply need to own it. That's part of life. There's enough infantilization of adults in this world--this statute, as it applies to adult students, is yet another example.

I realize I have gotten a bit far afield, but one more thing---do you really suggest that there wasn't true consent here?

Posted by: federalist | Aug 20, 2012 9:41:36 AM

You men are pathetic - quit thinking with your penises and look at the facts here. Here we have a person who knew what the law is and blatantly broke it and somehow is trying to claim that she is the victim. We have a teacher who was teaching her students (not just the "adults" involved in the incident but every other student in that school) and her children to act in a reckless, irresponsible, and selfish manner. Merely firing her doesn't send an adequate message that her conduct was simply unacceptable simply because she managed to restraint herself until the objects of her lust reached adulthood. The woman was 28 years old - that is too old to be chasing high school students - especially when she is supposed to be teaching them.

Most of you can't even bring yourself to say its wrong for a woman to be having sex with a group of young guys (on video no less) who she was supposed to be teaching in a responsible manner when her husband is off fighting for this country and her young children were in the next room. I'd almost send her to prison just for the tackiness of the entire thing. The fact that she knew it was illegal and tried to cover it up - and the fact that this woman needs to be kept away from children until she learns to act in a responsible manner - add in the fact that she engaged in sexual predatory behavior against people who were not in a position to say no to her since they were still students in the school that she taught in - well yes, she deserves prison and sex offender registration.

Society has said its unacceptable for high school teachers and others in trust relationships to abuse those relationships for their pleasure. The public interest clearly supports such laws given the fact that persons in a trust relationship can exploit their positions of authority to harm the other person. This woman did so in a massive way and then has the nerve to call herself the victim (the real victims are her innocent children and as far as we know husband). This has nothing to do with the prosecutorial hangups and everything to do with going after sexual predators who engage in predatory behavior.

Erika :)

Posted by: Erika | Aug 20, 2012 10:00:16 AM

I am going to break my vow of never responding to Erika. First of all, I don't think too many people are "thinking with their penises" (talk about an obnoxious and sexist comment). Second of all, I think most people think that the conduct is wrong, but "wrong" and "should be punished by the criminal law" are two different things. Personally, I have more important things to worry about than tacky sex between adults.

I get that the fact that she was a teacher and they were students adds to the situation, and that this clearly should not happen, but let's get real--these guys were eager participants and calling this behavior predatory stretches the meaning of predatory well past the breaking point.

As for your moralizing, that's somewhat offensive as well. Are you so weird that you even give a second thought about a 28 year old hooking up with an 18 year old--is it any of your business (obviously, I am talking about the issue generally, not teacher/student)? Given your crack about thinking with penises (highly offensive, by the way), your previous sexually-charged posts and your aside about who is too young to chase whom, my guess is that you have some unresolved issues in that area--get them resolved. These 18 year olds were not coerced, and are old enough to make their own decisions, tacky as they may be. And, of course, Erika, you have nothing to say about the victims being forced to recount the tales of their tacky showing in open court. (Note: I use the term victims simply because the law says that they are.)

This prosecution was a waste and needlessly inflicted suffering on all concerned. I don't see how that conclusion is thinking with my penis.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 20, 2012 10:54:51 AM

Erika--

It is definitely wrong for a teacher to have sex with her students--especially 5 at a time, while being videotaped. Regardless of whether the teacher or students are male or female.

There, I said it.

But the issue is not whether the conduct is immoral or not--the issue is whether the full weight of the criminal law should be brought down on a teacher who had sex with legal adults where there is no evidence of lack of consent. If I'm wrong and there was coercion here, please tell me where it is, because I don't see it.

Moreover, where's the line here on your "authority" point? Do you want to criminalize doctor/patient or lawyer/client sexual conduct as well?

Posted by: Res ipsa | Aug 20, 2012 11:55:55 AM

I join in pretty much all of federalist's comments here. And sure, Erika, it was against the law -- just because an act is against the law doesn't necessarily give comment to whether and to what extent an act is immoral, or wrong, or ought to be punished. The law is what the law is, and sometimes, throughout history, has been dragooned into enforcing the prejudices and hatreds of the day. It wasn't even until all that recently that same sex couples could be arrested for having sex with one another in their own home. So under that situation, would you get all ginned up about seeing them thrown in prison for twenty years and registering as sex offenders because they knowingly broke the law? Or perhaps maybe possibly is the problem the law?

Posted by: Guy | Aug 20, 2012 12:31:22 PM

Guy, no the problem is in the immature locker room attitude towards sex displayed by people like federalist. The law in this case is set in exactly the right place

The law properly treats all relationships between people in certain trust relationships as being such that no proper consent can be given. One of those relationships is between high school teachers and students. And if you do not believe that is proper, please look up what the words "zero tolerance" mean. It doesn't matter if they weren't directly her students, she could still get them arrested or punished within the school. That fact alone justifies treating all such relationships as criminal acts.

Posted by: Erika | Aug 20, 2012 1:24:58 PM

horse pucky erika!

in this case the law was an ASS. Mainly becasue the law is so overbroad as to be beyond belief. Like i said under their law as written if a 28 year old college teacher had sex iwth a 50 year old returing student not evne IN thier same class or even CAMPUS....they are sex offenders!

THAT IS RETARDED and could also make the case for being CRIMINAL!

Like we've all pretty much said. Yes the woman has no business being a teacher. But that's about it!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 20, 2012 1:40:37 PM

I would note that the law, as written, applies only to students and teachers in primary or secondary schools. AS such the law is not so broadly written as to include a college student/professor relationship. So it is not true that "a 28 year old college teacher had sex with a 50 year old retur[n]ing student" would be criminalized behavior.

Posted by: Michael Morris | Aug 20, 2012 1:52:10 PM

Erika, please get back on whatever meds you're supposed to be taking. First of all, if you go back through your posts, there are certainly some odd ones containing bizarre sexual overtones, so you, of all people, shouldn't be making accusations of genital-based thought processes. Second, and more to the point, I don't see how ANYTHING I've written about this case evinces a lockerroom attitude. I simply don't think that what this woman did should be a crime, and I certainly don't think that prosecutors exercised their discretion in a very sound manner, given the collateral effects on the 18 yo students. Personally, I think Ms. Colleps has issues, but hey, it's not my life and if she wants to act that way, I don't really care all that much.

What I suspect is that her actions embarrass you as a woman and for that you feel that she needs to be punished. It reminds me of some of the lame defenses to Nifong's prosecution (note: the situations are different--I get that). You know, the well, what were they doing hiring strippers? This woman's acts gross you out, but your reaction reminds me of homophobes who are probably compensating. Are you compensating here? Given the somewhat bizarre comments you have made in here, it seems like a possibility. Oh, and please don't whine about this post--when you introduced commenters' genitalia into the discussion, you leave yourself fair game for this sort of inquiry.

Perhaps what my real problem in your mind is not a lockerroom mentality, but the utter absence of one. Ms. Colleps either likes orgies or she's looking for attention. Either way, I just don't care. I really don't. My reaction is pretty much indifference (other than the fact that her completely innocent kids are harmed--her husband, it seems to me, assumed the risk), since all were legal age and there seems to be no coercion and the students were willing participants. Perhaps you ought to ask yourself why you are denigrating other opinions on this issue. My sense is that you won't like the answer.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 20, 2012 3:10:52 PM

"The law properly treats all relationships between people in certain trust relationships as being such that no proper consent can be given."

I'll ask again--under this view, doesn't this mean that lawyer/client and doctor/patient sexual relationships should be criminalized? (I am not aware of any state that criminalizes this behavior, though it is definitely forbidden by professional ethics.)

And if the answer is no, why should those get a free pass but not conduct between teachers and otherwise-consenting adults?

This is an awfully slippery slope you're on here...

Posted by: Res ipsa | Aug 20, 2012 3:26:38 PM

Erika --

What Res Ipsa said. Also, even if we accept the proposition that it is behavior that needs to be criminalized, punishment of twenty years imprisonment and ostensible registration as a sex offender? Please.

Posted by: Guy | Aug 20, 2012 3:55:33 PM

We do not know how the police became involved but many comments suggest the video is damning evidence that makes her more culpable.


"Johnston and fellow defense attorney Cynthia Fitch tried unsuccessfully to prevent the recording from being entered into evidence, arguing to state District Judge Ruben Gonzalez that Colleps was unaware that it was being made and had not given her consent. Jurors were shown the graphic video Tuesday."

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/08/17/4187869/jurors-began-deliberating-in-sex.html

Can we assume, as many seem to assume here, that the jury thought she wanted it filmed? Or could the secret filmmaker be the most culpable in all of this? Did the secret filmmaker upload the video to any place where minors could see it, like youtube?

Whoever took the picture of Michael Phelps hitting a Bong was more evil than Phelps.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nick-graham/michael-phelps-bong-pictu_b_162842.html

Posted by: Winston Smith | Aug 20, 2012 4:09:16 PM

Having been a prosecutor for a good long time, and not having a particularly indulgent personality, I just can't see turning this episode into a PROSECUTION.

This lady is sleazy, not to be trusted, nobody's version of a teacher, and not anyone I'd want near my 15 year-old (who is next for sure, as I think Joe pointed out). But jail?

C'mon, people, jail is for cocaine and meth dealers, rapists, swindlers, thieves, strong-arms, etc. Yes, they were students, and yes it's against the law. That makes it legitimate to CONSIDER prosecuting, I guess, but, good grief, the power of the state should be reserved for stuff more significantly damaging to the public than this. If you're a prosecutor, you have to leave all manner of things by the side of the road, and this is one of the things that ought to get left.

P.S. Erika, you're a smart person when you talk about some subjects, but sex offenses send you off to the races. You lost me, and probably everyone else, when you just had to type "penises" as the ninth word in a decently long comment. You'd do yourself a favor to avoid the tempation you obviously feel when there's an entry about sex.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 20, 2012 5:37:31 PM

'federalist'

'I do too. But at 18, I don't believe that expectation should be backed up by 20 years in prison.'

What a hypocritical okie statement .... you wouldn't feel that way if the rolls were reversed with a male teacher and say someone like an 18 year old female who quite possibly could have been your own daughter or someones daughter whom you knew...what a thoughtless jerk statement

Posted by: wikileaks to you | Aug 20, 2012 6:08:05 PM

"...okie...thoughtless jerk statement"

Eighteen year old women are of age and can choose sex partners pretty much at will...regardless of whether their dads approve. True or false?

Posted by: John K | Aug 20, 2012 6:50:29 PM

Res Ipsa and Guy, relationships between doctors and patients and lawyers and clients are not in loco parentis relationships. Relationships between high school students and teachers are. Spot the difference in degree of exploitation? Good, then it should be obvious why there is a justification to punish all relationships between high school teachers and criminals criminally.

That should also tell you why prosecuting those relationships does not mean prosecuting adults who engage in consensual relationships where there is not the equivilent of a parent-child relationship. It does mean that incest can be punished.

Your "slippery slope" arguments are extremely weak and easily disposed of.

As for Federalist, your obvious double standard is based upon nothing but sexist stereotypes and is blatantly unconstitutional.

In any case, many of these same parties complaining here were complaining the same complaints about the decision to prosecute when a junior high teacher was caught having sex with her 13 year old students. Basically it seems that your argument boils down to "teenaged boys are so desperate for sex with anything with a vagina that it can't possibly ever be exploitative." The stupidity of that argument should be readily apparent because that very "desperation" for sex that you claim is true (I wouldn't know having never been a teenaged boy) is the very thing which makes them subject to exploitation by female sexual predators. And yes, that also does reflect a locker room attitude towards sex. I expect better from a group of people who are primarily lawyers.

I may be harsh towards sex offenders, but at least I am consistent. I am the only person here who consistently argues in favor of equal punishment for male and female sex offenders.

And Guy, if you don't like the law and want to give sexual predators who happen to be teachers free reign to exploit high school students for sex lobby the legislature. Good luck.

Erika :)

Posted by: Erika | Aug 21, 2012 7:18:57 AM

"I may be harsh towards sex offenders, but at least I am consistent. I am the only person here who consistently argues in favor of equal punishment for male and female sex offenders."

So what? I don't happen to think that's required for any number of reasons. And it really doesn't have anything to do with lockerroom ideas, but rather an evaluation of differences between men and women, not the least of which is the ability to use force. I also think that adult-child homosexual sex should be an aggravator as well.

"As for Federalist, your obvious double standard is based upon nothing but sexist stereotypes and is blatantly unconstitutional."

How? To me, the issue is the students are 18. And that would be true if the students were girls.

Erika, if you can't see the difference between adults and 13 yos, well, maybe in addition to being weird, you are somewhat of a dim bulb. I note as well that don't defend some of the silly points you made. You cannot seriously argue that there was coercion--so now it's exploitation. Yeah, those guys seem exploited. And you still can't address the point about the harm to the 18 yos caused by the prosecution itself.

In other words, you resort to ad hominem arguments to hold up a weak position. And you expose yourself as a weirdo.

And Joe, that a 17 year old or 16 year old may not want to press charges is a decision that should bear heavily on the exercise of prosecutoral discretion. In egregious situations (maybe plying them with drugs), then prosecution probably becomes mandatory, and maybe really deviant sex does as well (the 5 on 1 would qualify), but there would be situations where the decision of the victim should be respected too. Obviously, that person shouldn't be teaching any more. That's a given. And you have to wonder about that person's judgment too.

In Indiana, there's a current prosecution of a 23 year old woman who was with a 17 yo student. She was an assistant girls' cheerleading coach. An utter waste of time and resources and, in my opinion, cruel.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 21, 2012 9:17:15 AM

"Res Ipsa and Guy, relationships between doctors and patients and lawyers and clients are not in loco parentis relationships. Relationships between high school students and teachers are. Spot the difference in degree of exploitation? Good, then it should be obvious why there is a justification to punish all relationships between high school teachers and criminals criminally."

You still haven't provided a logical answer to my question. I'll assume arguendo that the "degree of exploitation" may be greater for high school student/teacher sex than doctor/patient or attorney/client, at least as a general matter (though I would imagine specific cases in the latter two are far greater examples of "exploitation" than what happened here). Why should only the former be criminally punishable but the latter two not?

In any event, if you think that a teacher/student relationship is far more exploitative than, say, a psychologist/patient relationship--well, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. Only in one case is a person practically compelled to disclose the most intimate details of his or her life, which s/he won't even disclose to parents, spouses, or (yes) teachers. I doubt the students here did much in the way of intimate discussions with the teacher. And I haven't even covered some others that I'd think are on their face close to just as exploitative--say, boss/employee (presuming consent).

If you were consistent, you would say that any exploitative relationship should be criminally punishable, but high school student/teacher sex should be subject to greater punishment. But that's not what you're saying, and this is my problem with your position. If "exploitation" is the lynchpin for criminal liability, then it should be across the board, not just in cherrypicked cases. And this is where I think the slope gets really steep and very well oiled.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Aug 21, 2012 12:59:49 PM

This thread reminds me why I gave up posting on and reading comments, and stick to just reading the links. The number of comments piqued my curiosity on this one. But invariably, all threads become the equivalent of watching a group of two-year-olds bicker. "Wah, but she started it." It'd be funny if it wasn't so sad.

Posted by: Bill B. | Aug 21, 2012 1:39:46 PM

you hit it right on the head here fed!

"And Joe, that a 17 year old or 16 year old may not want to press charges is a decision that should bear heavily on the exercise of prosecutoral discretion. In egregious situations (maybe plying them with drugs), then prosecution probably becomes mandatory, and maybe really deviant sex does as well (the 5 on 1 would qualify),"

of course what should have happened in any other situatin is when it's 5 to 1...the 5 would be the ones facing charges.

Should have happened here as well. No way one person can rape 5 others at once! it's just not physically possible!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 22, 2012 1:52:53 AM

Res ipsa, relationships between psychologists/counselors/etc. and patients are already universally prohibited by professional standards and punishable by criminal law. Those have been deemed to always be exploitative

Relationships within custodial care envrionemntals (jails, prisons, mental health facilities, healthcare facilities) are already universally prohibited by law. Again, they are deemed to be always exploitive.

Any other relationship which is potentially but not always exploitative is punishable civilly (quid pro quo sexual harassment), by professional standards, and if it rises to the level by which consent was obtained by coersion or duress, criminal law.

Remember that anytime consent to sexual contact is obtained through fraud, coersion, or duress, it qualifies as sexual assault regardless of relationship.

The difference is that certain relationships have been deemed by society to be so subject to exploitation and coersion as to always be prohibited by law. Other relationships which may be the product of coersion but may not be are not and are treated as a case by case basis. That is the line the law has drawn and its a reasonable line.

And rodsmith actually provides a really good point (likely unwittenly) about how this teacher's actions put her students in a position where it was basically impossible to say no - first by being a group situation you have peer pressure by the other students. Then afterwords, if one of the students complained about it, the mere fact that it was 5 men and 1 woman - added in that she was their teacher - would lead people to immediately think that it was a gang rape. Whether she intended it that way or not, she essentially bought their silence by putting them in the position where a complaint from them would likely result in a rape charge. Especially if she was mad at them for snitching on her. So her actions were in fact much more exploitive than the ordinary teacher-student relationship. A prison sentence is richly deserved - especially because her using the implicit threat of a false rape charge against those young men is absolutely disgusting.

Erika :)

Posted by: Erika | Aug 22, 2012 9:23:46 AM

I couldn't possibly defend my point of view better than Erika did in her last paragraph. If that's all you've got, Erika, it's time to pack it in.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 22, 2012 10:39:28 AM

i'm with you fed. Erika your out of what little mind you have left!

I can tell you were never a teenage boy. hell ONE teenage boy couldn't keep the secret that he was having sex with a WOMAN! Let ALONE his teacher!

5...NEVER gonna happen it was GUARANTEED to get out!

Hell they FILMED it!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 22, 2012 11:27:08 AM

I don't believe the loco parentis theory of obligation works in this case, because when a person reaches the age of majority -- and all the males here had reached that age -- they are considered emancipated from their BIOLOGICAL parents, and, a fortiori, from any other persons who formerly had obligations analogous to those of parents.

This lady is plenty sleazy, and might be low down, but if I prosecuted every sleazy, low down creature that came my way while I was in the USAO, I'd still be there.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 22, 2012 7:13:22 PM

hell bill it's been 20 years...you'd still be on the "A's"!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 22, 2012 9:12:04 PM

This is the problem with over criminalizing. She should have been fired and had her teacher cert pulled with no chance of working in that profession again. Jail time is just stupid.

Posted by: Ariel | Aug 26, 2012 12:05:01 PM

I am a 70 year old retired former U S Government employee. The idea that the five 18 year old boys are victims in this matter is a hilarious joke. The whole episode is yet another example of why I will never live in Texas and will try very much not to even drive across it. Crazy rednecks in black judicial robes and suits and ties, bent of ramming their repressed sexual avoidance right down the throats of all other Texas Citizens. No thanks. Here is hoping that the Prosecutors who pushed this case, the Judge who didn't have the common sense or the guts (up for re election?) to kick this out of Court and the moron infested Jury that convicted Ms. Colleps, along with dangerous psycho commentator Erkia, all suffer, in later life, some sort of personal setback that equals the complete destruction of the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Colleps adn theri three children, that they have brought about. Good grief, what is wrong with you Texas people? Boys that age victims of sexual exploitation? Ha! You fools!

Posted by: Bob | Sep 10, 2012 3:35:54 AM

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