Nevada Assembly bill would close loophole in student-teacher sex law

CARSON CITY — Nevada lawmakers discussed a bill Thursday that would close a loophole in state law that allows teachers to pursue otherwise illegal sexual relationships with some students by either the student or employee transferring schools after meeting each other.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, D-Las Vegas, the bill’s sponsor, presented Assembly Bill 377 to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Assembly already approved the measure.

Under state law, teachers are not allowed to have sexual relationships with students under 18 at the same school they are employed. The age of consent in Nevada is 16.

But the law doesn’t address teachers and underage students at different schools, so after the sexual relationships start, either the student or teacher could switch schools and continue the previously illegal relationship, Dondero Loop said.

“This (bill) prevents a person from moving to continue an illegal situation,” she said. “We want to maintain a professional work environment and that helps all have a good working environment and a good, strong student-teacher relationship.”

This bill would prohibit sexual relationships between school employees and any student younger than 18 if they come in contact through the employee’s school duties. One example presented to the committee was a basketball coach who meets a cheerleader from another school at a school game.

Because the contact comes during the duty of the coach, a sexual relationship would be illegal if the cheerleader is not at least 18 years old.

“The crux of this bill is a person using their position and authority over someone else to spur a sexual relationship,” said John Jones of the Clark County district attorney’s office.

Sexual relationships between school employees and students are uncommon, but this effort is necessary to prevent those “isolated” incidents from skirting around the law, Lonnie Shields of the Clark County Association of School Administrators said after the meeting.

The committee took no action on the bill.