News reports indicate sexual misconduct might be more widespread in our schools than believed. A victim’s story is spurring lawmakers to act.
Rep. Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield) is chairman of the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education. She is asking parents, teachers, administrators and students to come forward to share information about sexual misconduct at schools.
Amy Davis of Columbia has stepped forward. During a news conference at the Capitol, Davis told reporters she didn’t share her experience with an adult for ten years after it occurred, because she was ashamed. Davis is 40 now. She says that she entered a sexual relationship with a male teacher at age 12, cut it off two years later, but kept silent when the teacher told her speaking up would ruin her life and wreck her family. She says she told friends, who kept her secret, but never told an adult until she was an adult and had gone through therapy.
Davis now is encouraging others to come forward during planned hearings before Cunningham’s House committee next legislative session. She says she couldn’t stay silent any longer. She says the only good use she has for the wound is to use it for the good of others.
Davis says the man who assaulted her still teaches in Missouri. State representatives say the law needs to change so that such teachers can be prosecuted, even years after the crime.
Cunningham says she grew concerned about sexual misconduct in Missouri schools after reading a series of investigative reports written by the Associated Press. The reports found that 87 teachers had lost their credentials in Missouri between 2001 and 2005, because of sexual misconduct. The reports ranked Missouri as the 11 th worst state in the nation for educator sexual misconduct.
Cunningham plans to hold hearings a week after the legislative session begins on January 9 th . She says those who would like to address the committee should contact her office so a hearing schedule can be coordinated. [ Photo courtesy of Tim Bommel ]