Wednesday, March 31, 2010

DA Threatens Teachers for Doing Their Jobs

Today I came across a disturbing entry in the American Life League's "Wednesday STOPP Report - March 31, 2010." (STOPP stands for "Stop Planned Parenthood.") (The report can be found here.)

The entry linked this letter (pdf) from Juneau County Wisconsin District Attorney Scott Harold Southworth. In the letter Southworth encourages local school districts "to temporarily withdraw from human growth and development instruction, effective with the 2010-2011 school year, until the Wisconsin Legislature amends or repeals these new mandates." The sex education mandates are contained in 2009 Wisconsin Act 134. The justification for this recommendation involves specious claims such as that the Act "Promotes the sexual assault of children."

The claim I found to be most alarming was this:
Exposes our teachers to possible criminal liability – §948.40 of Wisconsin's Criminal Code deals with “Contributing to the Delinquency of a Child.” Anyone who intentionally encourages or contributes to the delinquent (criminal) act of a child can be charged under this statute. For example, if a teacher instructs any student aged 16 or younger how to utilize contraceptives under circumstances where the teacher knows the child is engaging in sexual activity with another child — or even where the “natural and probable consequences” of the teacher's instruction is to cause that child to engage in sexual intercourse with a child — that teacher can be charged under this statute. The teacher need not be deliberately encourage[sic] the illegal behavior; he or she only need be aware that his or her instruction is “practically certain” to cause the child to engage in an illegal act. Moreover, the teacher could be charged with this crime even if the child does not actually engage in the criminal behavior. Depending on the nature of the child’s behavior, the teacher could face either misdemeanor or felony charges with maximum punishments ranging from 9 months of jail to up to six years of prison.

Now I'm no legal expert, but if such trumped-up charges were to be leveled against a teacher, wouldn't the charges originate from the District Attorney’s office?

I see this letter as nothing more than a thinly veiled threat by Southworth that he would abuse the power of his office for the purpose of malicious prosecution, in hopes that the threat will cause others to yield to his extremist anti-education political agenda.

I don't know what to do with this information. Who protects the public from rogue District Attorneys?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered the story on April 6.

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