First off it is inappropriate for multiple reasons in my view. The age being the first. The position of authority being the second. There are some interesting issues we, as society, need to look at these types of things.
I've seen arguments, in the past, how something like this isn't that bad. Honestly there is running jokes about hooking up with hot teachers while you are in high school. It is a huge fantasy of a large number of students of both sexes. Our culture both demonizes and glamorizes it. The list of movies and songs that show how it is just normal "young love" is very long. From movies like Blame it on Rio, American Beauty, Private Lessons, My Teacher's Wife, Circle of Two and many more. Sting wrote the song "Don't stand so close to me" in the late 1970s and won a Grammy in 1981 for the song. Re-released in 1986 right when I was just 16. Sting reportedly says the song is not autobiographical but he was a teacher and it really isn't a stretch now is it.
These days we seem to have more views of predatory pedophiles lying and manipulating "grooming" young people on-line. Before the internet such grooming was much more personal. Actual pedophiles had to put themselves in roles where they would be around young people constantly but that is for another blog post. I'm not sure I'd class Kathryn as a predator or a pedophile but is that because of culture I grew up in? It reminds me of this episode 10 from season 10 of South Park. I've got a clip here for you. Basically Kyle's little brother, Ike, who can barely talk, is having an affair with his kindergarten teacher.
You might not find South Park funny but the sentiment isn't really far off the mark if Ike was 10-11 years older.
When I was in high school there were 2 young female teachers I had a crush on and would have been ecstatic if I hooked up with either of them. Lets be honest, like most young men, I probably would have been over joyed if I hooked up with almost any of the young women in the whole student body back then. The attitude is boys are boys and, well, as young men we are naturally horny little bastards. So when I was 15 if I had a teacher like Kathryn that I had an affair with I can say that I'd have come out of the whole ordeal with very minimal metal scaring. I'm sure it would not last and would be very sad when it ended. At the time it would be very hard emotionally but hormones would have kicked in and some other girl would have caught my eye. I'm sure I wouldn't have been scarred for life. I'd wager that probably 95% of the guys I went to high school with wouldn't have ended up any worse for the wear if it happened to one of them either.
We, as a society, don't like to think of young women in the same light. We hold them in a better light for the most part. In a way everyone just accepts the way young men will act. But females...they aren't controlled by hormones like boys aren't they?. They are looking for long term love! Their crushes on a teacher are motivated differently in our eyes as society. But I wonder how many of the women I know had such crushes and what was honestly going through their heads. My experience is that young women are not all that different then young men. Young men are controlled by hormones but most guys I know at 16 were not out to play the field. We were, for the most part, happy to try to latch on to one girl for as long as we could. Bird in the hand mentality. Tho the 2 in the bush would get us in trouble even if we never got close to them. Males and Females have our differences for sure but girls aren't the princesses we expect them to be. That is fine too. Because once we stop trying to hold them to unrealistic expectations they'll have less pressure and can be who they want to be. A young woman that does have sex shouldn't be looked down upon and called a 'slut' while young men get a pat on the back and a 'that's my boy!'
So looking at this situation I know I should look at this in the same manor that I'd look at it if it was a 29 year old male teacher and a 15 year old female teacher but it is hard to keep that in frame. Maybe because I've got a strong protection instinct. I've gone through so many phases looking at age differences between couples from different perspectives. When I was 18 and based in Georgia I had a girl friend that turned 17 just a month after we. I also dated a 28 year old woman when I was barely 18. Was the fact that I was a Marine a reason people didn't look at that as a bit odd? When I was just 22 in and stationed in Hawaii I met a 20 year old woman I fell head over heels for but I remember thinking when I first met her "Hold on! She's only 20...she's pretty young!" when in reality it was me that wasn't as mature as I would have liked to think. Years later after getting married, leaving the Marine Corps, having a child and broken up with my ex I found myself 28 and in the same year I dated two women that were very different. One woman that was 9 years older then me and one that was 9 years younger then me. The younger woman was much more mature then the woman that was over twice her age. In my mid 30s I once again found that I couldn't bring myself to date women that realistically where only 7-8 years younger then me. In 26+ years of dating my views on age have changed. The rule of 1/2 your age plus 7 years seems pretty safe but I still wouldn't want a relationship with a 29 year old. Not because she'd be to immature but realistically the problem would be years down the line when the 15 year gap doesn't get smaller but actually bigger. I relate to people younger then me just fine these days but when I'm 85 and needing some care I'd hate to think I'd be hindering a partner just 70 and still very much in the game of life
So I've had a roller coaster ride with my personal views on ages and relationships but I've realized a few things. Age is often a poor factor when it comes to the emotional maturity of a person. At the same time we have to have some lines. Many courts are now starting to factor in age differences in situations where current laws are fairly stupid. For example a 17 year old boy and his 15 year old girlfriend's relationship shouldn't suddenly become illegal because he turns 18. The age difference didn't really change and he shouldn't face a sex offender charge because of it. Was dating a 19-20 year old when I was 28 wrong? Some might say so and if she wasn't the woman she was I would have agreed but it still wouldn't be illegal just like when I just turned 18 and dated a 28 year old while stationed near D.C. So is 29 and 15 all that different then 28 and 18. Realistically the difference between 28 and 29 is nothing. The difference between 15 (probably almost 16) and 18 is just over 2 years. Even going through boot camp I'm not sure I was all that much more mature at 18 then I was at 16.
So where does this leave my opinion of the matter. Surprisingly enough I'm pretty clear in my head despite what I've said up to this point. She's gone to far. Most places the age of consent is 16 and we have it there for a reason. She faces up to 15 years in prison because she couldn't seem to wait just a few months. Do I think she deserves 15 years? No. Partly, I'm sure, because of how society has framed my view about this topic. Partly because I think the current laws in many places need to be further reformed and some judgement should remain in the power of the Judge. If Kathryn is convicted and there was no evidence that something more devious was going on then yes I think she needs to be rehabilitated but I think it should be more mental health treatment then hard core jail. I'd have to say the same thing, and this is difficult, if it was a 29 year old male teacher and a 15-16 year old female student. Hell, the student could be of the same sex as the teacher and I don't think it should matter. If the teacher was found to have been grooming more then one student then the picture starts to drastically change from a bad indiscretion to predatory behavior. The liberal in me starts going out the window and I'd want the judge to throw the book at the teacher. Our teachers need to be stronger morally because of the position they are in.
With young women we might try to say it is all the make up and that is partly true. In reality it is our media that is changing our views and changing the outlook of our young men and women. I'll wait and see if I can get a transcript of the court case when it happens but in reality I'll never know the real true story. I hope she gets the help she needs and hopefully someone talks to the young man and puts the whole thing in perspective for him at least. Hopefully the whole process of her going to trial doesn't traumatize the young man.