Sunday, May 17, 2009

Charges Filed in Stackhouse Case

On Thursday, charges against former library aide (and son of the former school board president) Richard Stackhouse were formally filed. Stackhouse faces three counts of a class H felony for Sex Assault of Student by School Staff . His initial court appearances is slated for Monday May 18, 2009. The Wisconsin State Journal article indicates:

The complaint states that Stackhouse told police he knows the girl is 16 and that he had researched the "age of consent" in Wisconsin. He claimed the student had reached that age, the complaint states. Under state law, however, it is a misdemeanor to have sexual contact with anyone between the ages of 16 and 18. Sexual contact with anyone under 16 is a felony. Another law makes it a felony for any school employee to have sex with a student who is 16 or older. If convicted, Stackhouse faces a penalty of up to six years of combined prison and extended supervision on each count. The criminal complaint does not indicate how the school or police learned of the situation.

Memo to Mr. Stackhouse (the younger): Next time you do research, you may want to broaden your search. As with any internet research...your results are only as good as the quality of your query. Your research into the "age of consent" neglected to find something called 1995 WISCONSIN ACT 456, enacted June 27, 1996. Act 456 created section 948.095 of the statutes relating to sexual assault (the revised umbrella term which includes the former "statutory rape") of a student by school employees. Of particular interest here is subsection (3)(a)

(3) (a) A person who has attained the age of 21 years and who
engages in an occupation or participates in a volunteer position
that requires him or her to work or interact directly with children
may not have sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a child who
has attained the age of 16 years, who is not the person’s spouse,
and with whom the person works or interacts through that occupation
or volunteer position.
(b) Whoever violates par. (a) is guilty of a Class H felony.
History: 1995 a. 456; 2001 a. 109; 2005 a. 274; 2007 a. 97.
An "employee" and persons "under contract" are examples of persons included within the group of people that provide services to a school or school board within the definition of school staff under sub. (1) (b). These phrases are illustrative, and do not limit the definition of "a person who provides services." State v. Kaster, 2003 WI App 105, 264 Wis. 2d 751, 663 N.W.2d.

S. 939.50, Stats covers the potential penalties:
(3) Penalties for felonies are as follows:
(h) For a Class H felony, a fine not to exceed $10,000 or imprisonment
not to exceed 6 years, or both.

This issue has cause a sizable stir within the community (and justifiably so). The articles have also generated numerous comments from readers. One such "forumite, "Bea" hits the nail dead on the head (IOHO) with her comments [partially in response to a forumite who had commented that "Bea" was coming off as "a bitter teacher that has a problem with those in authority"]:

So Stackhouse the school board president has still not resigned?
Message to Dad: Do the words "conflict of interest" mean anything to you? If the
son was hired AFTER the father took office and the father voted to hire the son,
or even told him about the job, that is simply a shady practice. I don't know
what is happening to ethics and high standards in our society but it bothers me
that this is a difficult concept for you to grasp.

P.S. Not a teacher, sorry.
Always on the management team. Just looking for high standards and exemplary behavior from elected officials.

Just looking for "high standards and exemplary behavior from elected officials". How well and succinctly phrased. It's what we've been trying to say for years.

We're wondering what the school district, who seems to love in-service training, has done to counsel new employees about engaging in any ill-advised contact with students. It seems that a refresher might be in order. Or did this incident serve as the refresher?