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Lawmakers pass bill adding criminal penalties for sexual contact with a student

Published: Saturday, Aug. 29 2015 8:45 a.m. MDT

Utah State Capitol Building. (Ravell Call, Deseret News Archives) Utah State Capitol Building. (Ravell Call, Deseret News Archives)

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill defining any adult school employee or volunteer as a person in a "position of special trust" and subject to felony charges for sexual contact with a student cleared its final hurdle in the Senate on Thursday.

HB213, sponsored by Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, was approved by a 24-0 vote of the Senate, following a 73-0 vote in the House last week. It will now go before the governor for his signature.

Presenting the bill in the Senate, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said the bill was carefully developed in collaboration with school district officials and law enforcement personnel.

Stephenson said that there are cases when adults abuse their position of trust in a school by grooming a student for a sexual relationship when they turn 18, which current law falls short of addressing.

"This grooming of students and making them susceptible to a predator is inappropriate no matter what age that occurs," he said. "We need to make sure we have closed the loopholes in the law."

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