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AP: Sexual Misconduct Plagues US Schools

Lindsey, now 68, refused multiple requests for an interview. "It never occurs to you people that some people don't want their past opened back up," he said when an AP reporter approached him at his home outside Cedar Rapids and asked questions.

That past, according to evidence presented in the Bramow's civil case, included accusations from students and parents along with reprimands from principals that were filed away, explained away and ultimately ignored until 1995, when accusations from Bramow and two other girls forced his early retirement. Even then, he kept his teaching license until the Bramows took the case public and filed a complaint with the state.

Like Lindsey, the perpetrators that the AP found are everyday educators _ teachers, school psychologists, principals and superintendents among them. They're often popular and recognized for excellence and, in nearly nine out of 10 cases, they're male. While some abused students in school, others were cited for sexual misconduct after hours that didn't necessarily involve a kid from their classes, such as viewing or distributing child pornography.

They include:

_ Joseph E. Hayes, a former principal in East St. Louis, Ill. DNA evidence in a civil case determined that he impregnated a 14-year-old student. Never charged criminally, his license was suspended in 2003. He has ignored an order to surrender it permanently.

_ Donald M. Landrum, a high school teacher in Polk County, N.C. His bosses warned him not to meet with female students behind closed doors. They put a glass window in his office door, but Landrum papered over it. Police later found pornography and condoms in his office and alleged that he was about to have sex with a female student. His license was revoked in 2005.

_ Rebecca A. Boicelli, a former teacher in Redwood City, Calif. She conceived a child with a 16-year-old former student then went on maternity leave in 2004 while police investigated. She was hired to teach in a nearby school district; board members said police hadn't told them about the investigation.

The overwhelming majority of cases the AP examined involved teachers in public schools. Private school teachers rarely turn up because many are not required to have a teaching license and, even when they have one, disciplinary actions are typically handled within the school.

Two of the nation's major teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, each denounced sex abuse while emphasizing that educators' rights also must be taken into account.

"Students must be protected from sexual predators and abuse, and teachers must be protected from false accusations," said NEA President Reg Weaver, who refused to be interviewed and instead released a two-paragraph statement.

Kathy Buzad of the AFT said that "if there's one incident of sexual misconduct between a teacher and a student that's one too many."

The United States has grown more sympathetic to victims of sex abuse over recent decades, particularly when it comes to young people. Laws that protect children from abusers bear the names of young victims. Police have made pursuing Internet predators a priority. People convicted of abuse typically face tough sentences and registry as sex offenders.


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© 2007 The Associated Press