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?
Academy of Management. (2006, February). AOM Code of Ethics. Retrieved from Academy of Management: http://aom.org/About-AOM/AOM-Code-of-Ethics.aspx
American Psychological Association. (2018, Jan 1). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Retrieved from American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx
Evans, S. J. (2015, August 6). News. Retrieved from DailyMail.com: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3186964/Judge-reconsiders-case-man-19-sex-offender-registry-25-YEARS-sleeping-underage-girl-met-hookup-app-lied-age.html
Nico, L. (2018, February 20). Logan High School teacher arrested for sex with minor. Retrieved from 2KUTV.com: http://kutv.com/news/local/logan-high-school-teacher-arrested-for-sex-with-minor