Bill would increase penalties for sex crimes against students

N.C. General Assembly as seen from the grounds of the Capitol building. (A.P. Dillon, North State Journal)

RALEIGH — A bill filed in the North Carolina House seeks to increase penalties for certain sex crimes committed against students by educators but also includes penalties for officials who fail to report misconduct to the state board of education.  

House Bill 142, titled “Protect Our Students Act,” was filed on Feb. 16 by Reps. John Torbett (R-Gaston), Kristin Baker (R-Cabarrus), Jake Johnson (R-Polk), and Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort).  

Under the proposed bill, the crime of sexual activity with a student will change from a Class I to a Class G felony. A Class I felony has a sentence of three to 12 months whereas a Class G felony can be an eight to 31 months prison sentence. 

The crime of taking indecent liberties with a student also has the same increased penalty going from a Class I to a Class G felony. 

The bill also makes it a Class I felony if a school official fails to report a teacher engaged in misconduct to the State Board of Education: 

 ”Any superintendent, assistant superintendent, associate superintendent, personnel administrator, or principal who knows or has reason to believe that an employee licensed under Article 17E of this Chapter has engaged in misconduct resulting in dismissal, disciplinary action, or resignation shall report the misconduct to the State Board of Education within five days of dismissal, determination of disciplinary action, or acceptance of resignation. Failure to report misconduct pursuant to this section is a Class I felony.”   

The final section of the bill requires the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Center for Safer Schools to create an age-appropriate informational video on child abuse, sex abuse, and neglect for students in grades six through 12. The video provision would apply at the beginning of the 2024-25 school year.  

About A.P. Dillon 1287 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_