PSU 533 U02: The Price of a Lie

PSU 533 U02: The Price of a Lie


Recently in my area, a well-respected 57-year-old school teacher was arrested for having an intimate relationship with a 15-year-old girl who lied about her age (Nico, 2018).  Believing the girl was 19 years old, they met at least three times over the course of a few weeks until his arrest.  Many of his students are in shock and his life has become very complicated as he looks at five years in prison for each of the felony accounts, all while now being unemployed.  But should he be?  Where does the culpability lie?

No doubt, a single 57-year-old man having an intimate relationship with a 19-year-old single woman would be a bit odd, but not illegal.  The ethics of the situation could surely be in question as to who could be manipulating whom, but again, still not illegal.  I am unaware of the marital status of the teacher, which would be a separate issue anyway.

In another case, a 19-year-old Michigan male had consensual sex with a 14-year-old girl who lied about her 17-year-old age on a dating site (Evans, 2015).  He was jailed for 90 days and is on the sex offender registry for the next 25 years.

Both men were under the impression they were with someone older than they were told.  So, when an underage female lies about her age to an adult male and willfully engages in sexual activity, should he carry the full legal burden of the crime?  Where is the ethical accountability of the girl?  To be clear, my personal ethics do not align with the conduct of the men or girls in these cases, I just find the ethics a bit fascinating.

How does lying about one’s age line up with Ethical Codes?  The Academy of Management’s Code of Ethics gets right to the meat of the matter in their general principles of Integrity and Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity (Academy of Management, 2006).  Integrity refers to “accuracy, honesty and truthfulness” (2006).  Additionally, allowing someone to bear the legal burden of another’s lie surely does not “respect the dignity and worth” (2006)of the individual under condemnation.  The American Psychological Association’s Code of Ethics (American Psychological Association, 2018) has similar elements in their general principles with the addition of the principle of justice which may apply to the judicial system seeking to punish the deceived perpetrator.  Is justice truly served in these cases if the men pay their “pound of flesh” and the girls walk away free and clear?


Works Cited

Academy of Management. (2006, February). AOM Code of Ethics. Retrieved from Academy of Management:

American Psychological Association. (2018, Jan 1). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Retrieved from American Psychological Association:

Evans, S. J. (2015, August 6). News. Retrieved from

Nico, L. (2018, February 20). Logan High School teacher arrested for sex with minor. Retrieved from




  1. David Sean Walker February 25, 2018 at 1:12 PM #

    Thanks for your comment George. I know this is a bit of a controversial topic and I appreciate your view. There are definitely some bad guys out there that are looking for a quick fix. I have been married for 30 years and wouldn’t have the first clue on how to begin dating if I had to. I guess checking ID’s would be in order, although rather unromantic. But then again, if a person is 57 and courting a 19 year-old, extra precautions would be in order in my mind.

  2. George Richard Mitchell February 23, 2018 at 10:10 AM #

    Wow, this is a very interesting point! Thank you for sharing, I have once thought of this too but not with ethics in mind. I always thought that the girl that was lying and consensually acted in a sexual fashion should be punished as well. I do agree that a crazy age gap is strange but how is the male supposed to really know the female is lying? Not every guy is a predator, and if a guy is lonely and gets attention from a female then I can understand the desire to pursue. Specifically if the male has no intention of having sexual relations with a minor, he is asking for her age so that he can in his mind determine if it is ok or not. The reason the girl is lying to them is because if they found out how young the girl really is, the male will most likely walk away knowing that it is not right and illegal. So to your point a male with good morals is lied into believing that he consensually will be having sexual relations with a woman, then he will preform the act. The male taking full responsibility for this “crime” is hard to think about but doesn’t sound ethically right, when he really honestly didn’t know she was that young. This is a great topic for this discussion

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