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Inconsistent Law Yields Bizarre Charges for Tutor Dating Teen

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on June 06, 2016 4:15 PM

In an effort to protect minors, there are numerous laws enacted that criminalize adult interactions with youths, and sometimes these laws are not entirely consistent, creating strange situations. This is illustrated by a recent Houston, Texas case in which a 51-year-old math tutor is being charged for possession of child pornography for having images in his phone of a 17-year-old student with whom he had consensual sexual relations which are not illegal.

Texas law puts the age of consent for sex at 17 but criminalizes possession of lewd images of a child under 18. That means that although the tutor is not being prosecuted for touching his student, who says she willingly submitted and reportedly still wants to see him, he is charged for the photos in his phone and for allegedly cajoling her into sending them.

Text Evidence

Courthouse News Service reports that Harris County prosecutors charged Aldo Leiva with felony possession of child pornography for topless images of his student found in his phone. He was also charged with sexual performance by a child based on a text exchange in which she revealed she was taking a bath and he asked her to send him snaps.

The relationship between the teen and her tutor was discovered by her mother, who saw images of her daughter kissing an older man in the teen's phone. Mom called the school, which investigated the matter, and it was discovered that the 51-year-old tutor and the 17-year-old student were dating. A judge has ordered the tutor, out on bail, to stay away from his young lady friend. But Leiva's lawyer said that he will challenge this based on information from the couple that they want to meet.

Although this case is strange, it is a great illustration of how complicated the law is. While we might all agree that child pornography is bad and that teachers should keep their hands off the kids that they are meant to guide, things in life aren't always black and white and laws cannot address every exception or unlikely situation. The result is a situation like this one that yields bizarre charges -- Leiva cannot be punished for touching his young love but he's facing decades in prison for the images because that's technically the only problem with this otherwise legal relationship.

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