Holly Lopez: Why Do Teachers Keep Having Sex With Students?

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By Anila Alexander | March 17, 2012 8:05 AM EST

A special education teacher in Texas is being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with two underage students.

Holly Lopez, 32, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy she tutored in math and his 13-year-old friend.

The student, whose name was not disclosed, said in an arrest affidavit that Lopez "would treat me like a boyfriend and touch my leg sometimes."

The two exchanged 841 text messages before meeting up at the home of the boy's 13-year-old friend to have sex.

"She arrived at the residence with condoms and then proceeded to engage in sexual intercourse with both students," said Pflugerville Police Department Lt. Laura Wilkes.

The relationship continued until Feb. 28, when the 14-year-old boy went to the chief of police because Lopez was continually texting him after the incident.

Lopez was arrested Thursday for aggravated assault and conducting an improper relationship with a student. She is being held at the Travis County Jail with a bond set for $100,000. If she is found guilty she could face 5-to-99 years in prison.

Lopez quit her job after being put on administrative leave by school officials.

'I crossed the line'

Perhaps one of the most famous teacher-student sex scandals involves Debra Lafave, a pretty, young newlywed who abused a 14-year-old boy in 2004.

She pleaded guilty to having sexual relations and oral sex on four occasions with the boy, one of which was in school.

In an interview with Matt Lauer she admitted to crossing a line "that never should've been crossed."

"I made a really, really, really bad choice."

According to the Counter Pedophilia Investigative Unit, CPIU, around 15 percent of teachers sexually abuse of harass students. In half of reported cases, teachers are accused of abusing more than one student.

Nearly a quarter of all U.S. school districts have dealt with staff sexual abuse in the last ten years.

 'Just being rebellious'

Charol Shakeshaft, author of a 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Department about teacher sex scandals said "sexual abusers in schools use various strategies to trap students."

"They lie to them, isolate them, make them feel complicit, and manipulate them into sexual contact. Often teachers target vulnerable or marginal students who are grateful for the attention."

Shakeshaft finds that a majority of teachers who target elementary school children hold a myriad of professional accomplishments. They usually are not suspected of misconduct because they are often winners of the "Excellence in Teaching" award or a "Teacher of the Year" certificate.

But how are these teachers trapping students?

The study found that female teachers targeting male students do not believe that there is anything wrong in their actions. Only when they are caught do they show remorse for their actions.  

New technologies has made it easier for teaches to prey on their students as well. Text messaging and email allow a teacher and student to communicate privately. Students have become more sexually mature because pornography is more readily available online.

Nowadays children are more likely to be unsupervised then they were a generation ago because both parents work.

State laws vary on the age of consent for students.

In 20 states, it is not a crime for teachers to have sex with students aged 16 or older, according to CPIU.

In 23 students, sexual relations can occur with a teacher if the student is 17 and in 45 states relations can occur if the student is 18.

From 2008 to 2010, there have been at least 400 cases reported of inappropriate conduct between a teacher and a student.

Most cases of sexual abuse are never reported.

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