A Bay County sex crimes trial begins this week for a former Bay City substitute teacher, Heidi L. Lewis. Ms. Lewis is accused of having sex with three 17-year-old students. Although reports indicate that the purported victims chose to have sex with the woman, she has been charged with criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree, based on a Michigan law that provides that the age of consent is 18 where the participants are a student and a teacher, substitute teacher or school administrator.
If convicted of the felony charges, Lewis faces up to 15 years in jail. If you have are under investigation for or have been arrested and charged with any Michigan sex crime, speaking with a sex crimes defense trial attorney is important to protect your rights and fight the charges.
The issue of consent – and specifically consent where it involves a teacher or school official – has been hotly contested in Michigan. Recently, Senate Bill 596 was introduced seeking to criminalize consensual sex between students and school employee even where the student is older than 18.
Senate Bill 596 would amend MCL 750.520(d) and (e) to provide:
(1) A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree if the person engages in sexual penetration with another person and if any of the following circumstances exists:
(e) That other person is at least 16 years of age and IS a student at a public school or nonpublic school and either of the following applies:
(i) the actor is a teacher, substitute teachers, or administrator…”
Under current law, teenagers can willingly “consent” to sex after the age of 16. Where the person is an authority figure, the age of consensual sex is 18. The new law seeks to eliminate any age limit – making it illegal for school staff to have consensual sex even with students above the age of 18.
Here, even though the boys may have been willing participants in the sexual relations, because of Lewis’ position of authority she now faces significant and serious penalties. In fact, anyone who engages in sexual activity with someone under the age of consent in Michigan may face criminal prosecution, even if the individuals are close in age and involved in a romantic relationship.
Unfortunately, overzealous prosecutors often focus on “age of consent” violations to go after willing sexual partners. You need an aggressive sex crimes defense lawyer in Michigan to fight back.
For more information or if you have been charge with any Michigan sex crime, contact a top Michigan sex crimes attorney at Grabel & Associates for a free, confidential consultation.