I live in a bubble. Quite happily, I should add.
I left New York City just shy of two years after Sept. 11, 2001. Among many reasons, I was relieved to escape the 11 o’clock news and all of the depressing stories contained therein. Sure, I gave up a lot when I left New York, but what I gained in the form of a little peace and quiet living in a town of 5,000 with seriously first world-only problems is what has partly made it worthwhile.
And then I picked up my local paper, The Aspen Times, last week, and read about how the little bubble in which I live has a slow leak. A female basketball coach and health teacher at a high school in the neighboring town of Basalt was arrested for allegedly having sex with a male student.
You don’t need to do more than glance at the national headlines every day to know it’s not a new kind of story, but around here, it sure is.
Lauren Redfern, 26, was allegedly having a sexual encounter with a male student in the bathroom inside of her office when the school athletic director knocked on her door. According to The Aspen Times, Redfern and the student had sex an undetermined number of times since last fall. The student just turned 18 earlier this year.
The law in Colorado says a 17-year-old can legally have sex with a person up to 10 years older, unless that person is in a position of trust, such as a teacher. Redfern was charged on Thursday two counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust.
A longtime, grizzled local judge, who passed away a few years ago, surely would have called Redfern “felony stupid” and, indeed, it’s hard to argue that a teacher engaging in an illicit relationship with a student and on school grounds is terribly bright.
You could argue, I suppose, that the law is Draconian or antiquated. But it’s still the law. Just because both parties might not have agreed with it, Redfern should have known better.
Strangely — and unfortunately — some of the local reaction has been shoulder shrugging and high-fiving. Because of the student’s age, and gender, the sentiment among many is, “Big deal.”
As a mom of two daughters, I shudder to think how I’d feel if they were having sex at 17-years-old — period. But with a teacher?
Seventeen-year-olds can often be mature, and some are arguably more mature than many adults, I’m sure.
However, no matter the age or gender of your child, you don’t send them to school and expect to learn that the people entrusted to watch over and guide them are having sex with them in an office bathroom. And I guarantee if the student was a girl — no matter her age — and the teacher a man then there would be lots more outrage.
No matter which way I look at it, there’s still a disappointing feeling causing my heart to sink into my stomach. I knew the bubble wouldn’t last forever, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t hope it would.