A candidate seeking a seat in Congress representing Michigan is under fire after he defended a teacher currently under indictment for having sex with a 13-year-old student, reports the Free Press.
Tom Bagwell, who is running as the Libertarian candidate for a seat currently held by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D), made his comments on the Facebook page of a Houston TV station covering the trial of Alexandria Vera, an eighth-grade English teacher who admitted to having sex with one of her students.
In his comments, Bagwell admitted that “children should be protected,” but complained that “unintended consequences of government action can often cause more harm.”
Bagwell went on to say the state that consent laws need to be reformed so that prosecutors are forced to “look at each case separately rather than simple hard age cutoffs.”
Another commenter pressed the candidate on the age of consent, asking: “Exactly what mitigating circumstances make it OK for a 24-year-old to have sex with her 13-year-old student?”
Bagwell replied, “Hard age of consent laws don’t take into account the actual maturity of the child. Some teenagers are able to handle these relationships many can’t. If there is actual abuse by all means charge with a crime, but it should not be a snap judgment.”
Pressed about his comments over a case where the student was only 13, Bagwell didn’t back down when contacted by the Free Press, pointing out that Houston teacher and child — who is barely a teen — were in a “consensual relationship.”
“My view is simply this: We shouldn’t jump the gun on these issues and automatically go to the worst (scenario),” he said. “Where there is actual consent between the parties, we should look at it on a case-by-case basis to see if coercion was involved.”
Bagwell also stated that his opinion on the Houston sex abuse case came from his personal Facebook account and not from his official campaign Facebook page.
“I have some views that I know the general public might say, ‘Eh, I don’t like that,’” he admitted.