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State House committee to hold hearings on sexual misconduct by teachers

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Hearings will be conducted during the 2008 legislative session into sexual misconduct in Missouri public schools.

State Rep. Jane Cunningham (R, Chesterfield) chairs the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education.

She cites an Associated Press investigation that says 87 teachers in Missouri lost their credentials between 2001 and 2005 due to sexual misconduct, making Missouri the 11th worst state in the nation for such instances.

"It's important for us to hear from victims, from families, from educators, from school boards, from prosecutors, from health care professionals," Cunningham said.

The hearings are scheduled for mid-January.

Amy Davis of Columbia is so far the only person scheduled to testify. She says between the ages of 12 and 14 she engaged in a relationship with one of her teachers.

"What I wanted more than anything was an adult to notice how much I was struggling with the issues in my life, and I needed some guidance and some attention to get through it all...what I got was a selfish pedophile who saw me as an easy target...someone with low self-esteem who would be easily manipulated," Davis said.

Charges have not been filed against the teacher because Davis came forward after the statute of limitations expired, which is 20 years after the victim turns 18.

That teacher is working today in the Cape Girardeau school district.

His name was not disclosed because of an additional investigation into his past relationship with Davis.

Cunningham plans to sponsor a bill that would remove the statute of limitations for sexual misconduct involving public school personnel.

Anyone interested in testifying at the public hearing is being asked to contact Rep. Cunningham's office.

The toll-free number is (866) 543-0420, or in Jefferson City, (573) 751-1186.

Email address: Jane.Cunningham@house.mo.gov

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