” Last November, Los Angeles Unified School District lawyers fighting a civil lawsuit argued in court that a 14-year-old middle school student was mature enough to consent to having sex with her 28-year-old teacher, and that she bore some responsibility for what happened. The district’s attorneys also introduced the girl’s sexual history into the trial as part of their defense strategy.
Two legal experts sharply criticized the school district for using those tactics. They also said the case highlights a little-known conflict in California law: while the age of consent is firmly set at 18 in criminal cases, at least two appellate court rulings have found that in civil cases, it is possible to argue that a minor can consent to sex with an adult.
Last November’s case involved a math teacher at Thomas Edison Middle School in Southeast Los Angeles who in December 2010 began a six-month sexual relationship with a girl who went to the school. The teacher, Elkis Hermida, was convicted of lewd acts against a child and sentenced in July 2011 to three years in state prison. “