The arrest of a young school employee serves as a reminder that Oklahoma's statutory rape laws prevent a sexual relationship between a student and any employee of the same district--not just between students and their teachers.
Austin Kain, 20, was arrested last week after he allegedly admitted to having sex with a 16-year-old student on Del City High School grounds several times between March and May. The teen boy also allegedly admitted to the relationship. Police say that Kain said he knew that the relationship was wrong because he was a school employee, but it is not clear if he knew the relationship was ethically wrong or understood that he was committing a sex crime.
Clearly, most parents would not be happy about their 16-year-old becoming sexually involved with a 20-year-old. However, in most circumstances, this would be a legal relationship. The age of consent in Oklahoma is only 16, and at that age, a person can provide legal consent to sex with anyone else aged 14 or older who likewise consents. However, there are several stipulations that prevent a person 16 or older from being able to legally consent to sex with someone.
When a person holds a specified custodial or supervisory position over another person, he or she cannot legally have sex with the other person, regardless of the other person's willingness to engage in such a relationship. When such a relationship occurs, the adult, custodian, supervisor, teacher, or other specified employee is charged with second degree rape, commonly referred to as statutory rape.
In general, people think of statutory rape as mutually consensual (but not legally consensual) sex between an adult over 18 and a minor under the age of 16. In other words, an adult who has an underage girlfriend or boyfriend. However, sex with a minor is but one element of a possible statutory rape charge. Two other common examples of statutory rape include the following, defined in 21 O.S. 1111:
- Where the victim is under the legal custody or supervision of a state agency, a federal agency, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision and engages in sexual intercourse with a state, federal, county, municipal or political subdivision employee or an employee of a contractor of the state, the federal government, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision that exercises authority over the victim; or
- Where the victim is at least sixteen (16) years of age and is less than twenty (20) years of age and is a student, or under the legal custody or supervision of any public or private elementary or secondary school, junior high or high school, or public vocational school, and engages in sexual intercourse with a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older and is an employee of the same school system.
The same stipulations apply in the case of forcible sodomy, which may not be "forcible" at all. It may be a mutually agreed-upon sexual encounter between two people who are prohibited by law from engaging in such activity with each other.
Let's look at how the "school employee" provision applies in the current case. Note that the law says sex is forbidden between a student under the age of 20 and an employee of the same district who is aged 18 or older. Kain, though not a teacher, was a district employee as a color guard coach. Although his partner had reached the age of consent, Kain could not legally accept the teen's consent to sex. Strangely, this law applies even if the employee is younger than the student. If, for example, an school employee was only 18 and he or she had a boyfriend or girlfriend who was 19 years old and a student in the district--even at another school--he or she could be criminally charged as a sex offender.
Both statutory rape and forcible sodomy are felony sex crimes requiring lifetime sex offender registration if convicted.