Thursday, April 28, 2011

Publication of college English theme leads to teacher arrest: another warning about how sensitive school officials can be about any media at all

An essay written originally as a college English theme and then published in a college newspaper (because the professor thought it was that good)  at North Carolina Central University has led to arrest and criminal prosecution of a high school teacher, according to numerous newspaper stories, such as this one from Winston-Salem (website url link) and a later in the Washington Times (link).

The paper detailed an affair between the student, Jessica Martin, and a male teacher, now 28, facing 64 counts of illegal relationships with a student in the same school.  (I generally don’t reproduce for search engines names of accused her until there is a conviction.)

From an intellectual property viewpoint, the story is important for (and reinforces) a reason already presented here before. School districts, and other kinds of employers (and sometimes law enforcement), are very concerned about published material (especially when self-published on personal sites, blogs, or more recently social media) that maintains that a crime like this has occurred. Fiction can present a problem if it is not clear to a visitor that it is fiction, or if it hints that a perpetrator (particularly the writer) might have a propensity to commit the action in the future, or if it seems to have no purpose other than to goad others into illegal behavior.  

This area was covered July 27, 2007 on this blog.

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