Dealing with the case where a member of staff is accused of performing lewd acts with a preschool child
A teacher that instructs the disabled children in Hillsborough County public preschool was charged for conducting lewd act on a disabled teenage student. The 68-year-old was arrested at his home in Tampa. According to the eyewitness, the teacher touched the male student’s private parts then did what the eyewitnesses described as grinding. Someone noticed that something was not right and reported the case to the school authorities. The teacher, called Summers, was immediately removed from class and arrested by Tampa police department. 1
What does the law say?
According to the penal code, lewd acts with a minor involves willfully touching any part of the minor’s body or willfully causing a child to touch the offender’s body or any other person’s body. It also involves a case where the offender did so with the intention of gratifying the lust, arousing, appealing to the lust or the passion of the offender or the child. 2 3
The word willful presents the conviction that the offender did what he did on purpose. This protects people who may have touched the child accidentally from being convicted. The touch can be either on the bare skin or through the clothing.
The law does not go into details about the purpose. This allows many of these acts to be punishable under the law. The main intent should always be arousal. However, the prosecutor does not have to prove that you were aroused from the act. He only needs to prove that arousal was the intention of performing the act.
Penalties on conviction
If the victim of the lewd act is less than 14 years at the time of the act, you may be jailed for up to one year in the county jail or three to six years in a state prison. Some states like California has a strike law which may be used by the judge to order a strike.
If the victim is less than 14 years of age and the offender used force, duress or threats, he or she could face five, eight or ten years in a state prison. If the accused is a repeat offender, he or she could face anything between 25 years to life in a state prison. These jail terms may differ from one state to another. 2 3 4
What to do as teacher or school official if you caught someone conducting the act to the child
A lewd act with a minor is regarded as a terrible crime that may attract a long jail term including having the name of the offender in the sex offenders register 4 (if the court is satisfied that one sexually abused the child). To prevent a case where the child fabricates a similar story (maybe under the instruction of an adult), the police must perform thorough investigations to make sure that the allegations are true. Sometimes the child may fabricate stories against the people that they hate.
In your case as the teacher, you should report the lewd act to the school authorities for them to report the same to the police. You will be required to tell the police of what happened during the lewd act. If you were not physically present at the time of the act and the child reported it to you, the toddler needs an interview with the preschool counselor or the police so that he or she can be interviewed. They may interview other children that witnessed the act. This is one of the most important processes in the development of the case and forms part of the prosecutor’s evidence.
A forensic medical examination can also be performed on the victim for a definitive prove that the victim was actually touched. The police will be keen on searching the victim’s body and clothing to find any hair, semen, skin tissue, or saliva of the suspect. The medical examination is generally the greatest proof that a lewd act actually took place, especially where there is suspected sexual molestation. 3
If the police feel that the evidence does not make the case stronger, they may coach the small child during a phone call with the suspect, which is an attempt to coerce the suspect into confessing that he or she took part in the act. The police also look at that the suspect’s past to try and identify any other victims of the act. Many pedophiles have more than one victim. Many victims lead to more charges against the suspect. 2
What if you are the accused?
If you are accused of a lewd act with a child in the preschool, you need to find an attorney to help in preparing your defense. Do not talk to the police before your lawyer arrives. The police take the minute inconsistencies in your story and use it as evidence against you in a court of law. 4
Your attorney will assist you to prove that you either touched the child accidentally or the intention of touching the child was not for your or their arousal. As a daycare teacher, you may touch the young kids at some part of the body in the course of your work such as tying the shoelaces, zipping up their cardigans and many other reasons.