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LITHIA SPRINGS: Teacher arrested under new Ga. law banning sex with students

12:17 PM, Nov 10, 2011   |    comments
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Dennis Brown

LITHIA SPRINGS, Ga. -- He was hired to educate and care for high school students.

But a 52-year-old teacher at Lithia Springs Comprehensive High School is accused of taking advantage of a 17-year-old girl from his school, which is a felony under a Georgia law that took effect only last year.

Dennis Brown was arrested Wednesday, accused of having consensual sex with a student who had skipped school to meet him off campus. The Douglas County Sheriff said it occurred in Brown's truck in the park-and-ride lot at Lee Road and Interstate 20 -- which is near the school -- during school hours.

The new law makes it a felony for educators to have any sexual contact with students of any age who are in their care, in elementary and secondary schools. Even if the student is 17, consent does not matter, according to the law.

It was in 2009 when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled on a previous version of the law, declaring that a teacher is not necessarily breaking the law for having sex with a student 16-years-old or older who participates willingly.

The legislature rewrote the law in 2010 to ban educators from having any sexual contact with their students, in elementary and secondary schools.

Sheriff Miller said Brown confessed when investigators arrested and questioned him.

"There may be other victims, according to what we're told," Sheriff Miller said. "This man may have had sex with more than one female" student. "

"As we conducted the interviews, the female admitted, when we brought her up there, that they had, that she had had oral sex with the teacher," Miller added. "They're 17-years-old; they're still impressionable, and for somebody who has authority over them, it puts them in a situation that they may not know exactly how to say no."

Parents are angry, and saying enough is enough.

"I think it's awful," said Calvin Bates, who lives near the high school and has two children in middle school. "I think it's a bad thing. I think once they get in mind to make an example out of some of these guys, they'll stop sexing these kids. Just need to stop it. Once they make an example out of one of them, just like anything else, it'd come to a halt."

Dennis Brown faces up to 25 years in prison for each offense, and the sheriff said the investigation is just beginning.

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