September 11, 2009

Statutory rape: I guess maybe it happened to me

Back when I was 17, I had sex with a man who was in his mid-20s. He was also married, but I didn’t know that until after we had sex and his wife called my family home to ask why he had my name and phone number on a piece of paper in his wallet.

I wasn’t in love with this man. I wasn’t even “in like” with him. I barely knew him. It was a one-night stand, the first of a few in my pre-married life. I guess you could say I did a very slutty thing at 17. Or a very girls-with-low-self-esteem kind of thing. I’m sure I could sit with my therapist and delve into the broken, attention-seeking part of me that sought out and consented to this encounter.

I can also say that I was motivated by simple curiosity and, yes, even a sense of adventure. I wanted experience. That sort of curiosity and desire for experience put me into less than savory situations in my college years and early 20s that I’d prefer my mother still not know about. But it also prompted me to move halfway across the country to attend college, to travel solo to Europe for six months after college and to become a writer and journalist. Some of the experiences I sought were risky and perhaps caused me some lasting psychological or emotional damage. Well, I am crazy, after all. But, I've probably been crazy all along.

Yes, I am writing in reference to the case of Mark Christopher Litton, the 33-year-old Miramonte High English teacher arrested yesterday at the Orinda school on suspicion of having unlawful sexual relations with a former, underage student. I’m afraid I’m fanning the flames of this case a bit more.

In no way do I mean to project my attitudes and motives as a curious, slutty, and/or adventure-seeking 17-year-old onto the alleged victim in this case. I don’t know the victim, the victim’s age, or the victim’s circumstances. None of us in the general public do.

At the same time, I am sharing my own slutty, broken teen past to make the point that pretty much all teenagers are sexually curious, if not sexually active. And some choose to do things that are stupid and harmful to themselves or to other people, because they are curious and because they aren’t mature enough to understand the consequences of their actions.

A teen’s sexual curiosity or need for attention wouldn’t excuse Litton. He was a teacher and the victim was a student, so it looks like he abused his position of trust and authority, and probably should never be able to teach again. But should he be held criminally liable?

The alleged crime, for which was arrested, essentially involves an adult, at least 18, having sex with someone who is under 18.

Maybe there will be more charges to follow? And maybe he really pulled a number on the alleged victim and really caused a lot of psychological damage.

So far, Litton, who lives in Walnut Creek, is not charged with forcible rape or lewd and lascivious conduct. The unlawful sex charge can either be a misdemeanor or a felony—depending on the circumstances—and can lead to anything from civil penalties, to jail time, to up to four years’ in state prison. The state prison time can come if you are, say, a guy who is older than 21 who has sex with a victim who is under 16.

With the bail set at $250,000, police seem to be taking this case pretty seriously, so perhaps criminal prosecution is appropriate.

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out, and perhaps I’ll need to take back some or all of what I’ve thus far written.

Back to my “adventure” at 17, I guess you could say I could have been a victim of this crime, PC 261.5. But wait! I think I lied and told this dude I was 18 when he asked me out. That would have been his defense if, I guess, my parents had found out and wanted to press charges.

But you know what? I didn’t feel like a victim then—even after I got that phone call from the wife. In fact, I honestly felt like I was living out some single girl’s story in Cosmopolitan magazine, which I was, yes, reading at that time in my life. I’m sure that makes me sound like a callous bitch, but that’s the way it was. That’s the way I was.


Anonymous said...

I'll just comment on part of your article. I think you demean yourself, and possibly women, unnecessarily with the use of the term slutty. Its a value/moral judgment label used against someone who doesn't meet another persons "standard of propriety". Who is to say where that line is. Sort of like passing a Christian litmus test. How Christian do you have to be to be "Christian"?

Anyone who is looking at those years in the rear view mirror probably remembers that it is confusing and the degree of experimentation is up to the individual and their own internal moral/values compass.

Just because mine points north while yours points south doesn't make you slutty or me virtuous. It just makes us us.


Anonymous said...

When I was in high school, it was always a mix. Not everyone was having sex. On television teenagers see tons of shows where people are sleeping around like crazy. This makes it seems like everyone in the world is having sex like crazy.

In real life, not every teenager is having sex. Of course you see many teenagers with boyfriends and girlfriends. Many teenagers believe in a committed relationship. Other teens choose not to have sex because they know of the risk of pregnancy or disease. Teenagers these days are not the sex-crazed perverts that most people think that they are.

There are also many teenagers who sincerely believe in committed relationships. Also, there are many teenagers who are very committed to their own moral values and many are waiting until they are ready.

We live in a sex obsessed world where you are told to believe that not a popular person if you are not having sex. People who aren't having sex are ridiculed as old fashioned conservatives. What we need is to be tolerant of all views. Those who choose to not have sex are as valid as every other person.

Anonymous said...


We live in a sex obsessed world where you are told to believe that you are not a popular person if you aren't having sex.

Anonymous said...

You need to remember, too, that you were not a student who had sex with a teacher.
The authority figure aspect of teacher/student puts an entirely different spin on the sex, wouldn't you say? Did the victim feel "pressured" to have sex with her teacher?
The fact that bail is set so high means that the charges that this teacher was arrested on are very serious. The bail for a single count of statutory rape is only $10,000.
Nothing about this sounds like a 17 year old consenting to have sex with a 32 year old.

Anonymous said...

At the very least this can be construed as a sexual harrassment case. A person in a power and authority position exerting undue influence on another, in this case a minor. It is always wrong to use and abuse another. Adolescence can be a trying process for the teen with self discovery, mistakes etc. An educator, however, must hold him/herself to a higher standard and so must we.

Anonymous said...

The reports I have been hearing is that she is an ex-student. Can anyone confirm that this happened while they had a student/teacher relationship? If not, I don't like it, but it seems less nefarious.

I really believe this happens a lot more than gets reported.

Anonymous said...

Anonomous at 2:12 said that he/she (I'm guessing she) thinks this happens a lot more than gets reported. Howin the heck do you come to that conclusion? Intuition? Perhaps it doesn't.


Anonymous said...

anon are right...she.

Actually it has been a while since I was in high school, but I personally know of three girls that have had relations (while in school) with teachers, and a heck of a lot more that wanted to. One of the girls actually married the teacher after she graduated. He was a married man when they started their affair.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:55

Things have changed a lot since I was in high school apparently!


Soccer Mom said...

Anon 3:55,
Hmm, I wonder if we went to the same school, or know the same girl, who married the teacher after graduating ...

I have this vague memory of a girl in my high school, whom was known to have been involved with a certain teacher. I didn't have the teacher myself, but he was popular, and he was youngish. The girl almost acted like his assistant. She was his pet, and I remember going into see him about maybe transferring into his class, and there she was. I'm gonna go through my yearbooks and see if I can find her. I've already found him. I can't remember if she was my year or the year ahead. Anyway, rumor has it, that they came out about their relationship after she graduated.

If you want, e-mail me, and let me know which school you were at and vice versa. I don't want to say so here, because, as I said, I didn't know of any kind of relationship first hand. It was just one of those things that was just known.

Soccer Mom said...

Way back, as a newspaper reporter, I did cover a case, locally but not in Lamorinda, of a young handsome sports coach who was charged with having a relationship with a female student. Then after the charges were filed in that case, at least one or two more girls came forward to say that he did them too. I remember thinking back to when I was a teenage girl and how I would have been flattered to have someone like that single me out for special attention. I would have been an easy mark.

Anonymous said...

And there you go... Soccer Mom. That is the problem here. The young and vulnerable are easy marks.


Anonymous said...

wow, stop judging mr. litton! he is a GREAT man. so typical of orinda parents to be soo curious and way too involved in business that is not their own.

I had him as a teacher, and no one can judge him. It is insulting and truly sick that anyone might even CONSIDER it was actually rape, just because the bail is so high. STOP JUDGING HIM! MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS! Yes, I realize this is public news, but Mr. Litton does not deserve this. I know him, and I'm not judging him. None of you know him, so you really can't.
This makes me so sick.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, child I don't know any Orinda parents. If anything happened it does not matter if it was "consenual." The adult is always responsible or should be.
People can be many things at one time good-bad, right-wrong. Great teachers can make horrific life choices. Young women can make life altering choices. If this events happened many lives will be affected.

Anonymous said...

Wow soccer Mom, your curiosity to find out who in your class might have been with a student, and who the student was, from X years ago is a little well, strange at this point. Does it really matter now? Is there some gratification that will be met by knowing? Just curious because I don't see why anyone would put the energy into finding out at this point.

Also you use the term "he did them too" Last time I checked 2 people were doing it to each other. I'm not justifying it but it sure makes a victim out of the girls. Perhaps they were. Were you the chosen easy mark would you have described yourself as the one who was "done"? Not arguing with the impropriety of the act, just trying to better understand the use of the semantics.

Also, why DO you use a pic of Vikki as your "avatar"

Happy I found your blog???


Anonymous said...

" If anything happened it does not matter if it was "consenual." The adult is always responsible or should be. "

This is an example of the broken thinking in this country. When you have to evaluate an illegal act like this, you have to take ALL things in account and judge very carefully. You most definitely do not immediately premise that the adult is the only one responsible. And luckily that's how it works, and most of the time the adult is acquitted. For example, at Bentley School in Lafayette, almost the exact same thing happened several years ago, but the adult was acquitted, and now they are both happily married.

Castle Hill Bill said...

I'm seeing a disturbing trend in the local blogs. Because of two serious incidents involving minors and adults, an elevated state of paranoia is taking over certain communities.
A majority of the submissions to saw nothing wrong with an overzealous hero wannabe (HE) hassle an old man because he had an accent, wouldn't answer HIS questions, and was 'creepy'. Not getting the response that HE learned on Law & Order SVU, HE finally contacts the police. Before the old guy is even questioned by police, hero wannabe is on the blog reporting 'they got him.' Turns out the old man that they got is a German tourist filming his grand daughter. The hero wannabe makes a lame apology to the family of the guy that HE said was creepy and then tries to justify in his little pea brain that the man should be happy that his grand daughter lives in a neighborhood where strangers are harassed by the vigilance committee before calling the cops. HE is such a condescending jerk. The scary thing to me is the response of the community to this outrageous conduct. They support it!! Nothing more than lynch mob mentality.
Now a talented, well liked, and inspirational teacher has been accused of a terrible crime. Not waiting for a report from investigators or even a statement from the accused, the lynch mob has tried and convicted this teacher. Is it possible that the student made a false allegation? Could the whole charge be a fraud? Absolutely! But who wants to wait for facts? There is a salacious story here that is ruining the career and life of a young dedicated teacher and hurting his family. Comments from readers to related articles on this blog express the same lynch mob mentality as the other story. I truly hope that all the facts come out and the teacher is vindicated quickly. I know it's not what the lynch mob would like, but there will be others accused and tried in the blogs for the comitatus to string up.

Thud said...

Vikki?..looks like posh...a true soccer mom.

MickeyMartin said...

I was just commenting that people would be getting the pitchforks out soon if the Pleasant Hill kidnapper was not caught soon. With a kid in Pleasant Hill schools it troubles me greatly to know that there have been attempts on children in the area. That is A BIG DEAL. With the Jaycee Duggard story fresh on our mind, I am surprised there are not parent patrols organized (complete with pitchforks and torches), as I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose my precious boys. Makes me sick.

As for this teacher, well, I agree it could be a false accusation and I would hope that the PD had some physical evidence before ruining this man's life. I still think that in a 33 to 17 year old relationship (if there truly was one) the 33-year-old is completely responsible. But Castle Hill Bill is right. Until we have the facts we should withhold judgement on this statutory situation.

As for the kidnapping, I say we cannot be too vigilant really, but accusing old German men and taking a victory lap is not the way to go about it.

Soccer Mom said...

Left Coast, Castle Hill Bill, and others,
I'm actually reserving judgment on Litton. I want to make that clear. I think it's interesting that he's not charged with forcible rape, but with having sexual relations with a minor. I do wonder if criminal prosecution is appropriate, or if this case belongs in the category of sexual harassment, which would be a civil issue. But if he did have sex with a student, even if the student consented, he still acted inappropriately for a high school teacher. I guess this sort of thing used to be more common on college campuses, when you have two adults involved, but now a professor/student relationship can get the professor into trouble. It's the same in many workplaces.

I think this case touches on some pretty sensitive but intriguing issues and attitudes. Mr. Litton sounds like he was a very dedicated, talented teacher, and, yeah, maybe his career is ruined. Either because of his own stupid or criminal actions or because of public hysteria, a lynch mob mentality.

I think this case, and the brouhaha surrounding last weekend's cheerleader fundraising car wash (which I admittedly contributed to), are revealing attitudes, mixed up or otherwise, and including my own, about girls and their sexuality. I think there are some that want to hold girls up as being innocent, fragile and vulnerable. While others, including myself, think or know otherwise, at least when it comes to some females, including myself.

I think people are uncomfortable with how to approach young women's emerging sexuality, including the young women themselves.

These teen girls either feel confident and powerful in their own right, and want to try things out and experiment, or they are conforming to society's ideas about how they should act in order to get attention, be attractive, be desirable.

I'm not sure what the answer is, and I'm trying to work through my attitudes, in light of responses--critical and positive--that I've received.

Left Coast, as for my fascination with finding out the identity of that student and teacher from my own past? Well, sure it's strange, but I am, well, crazy in suburbia.
But I think it would be interesting to find out if there was anything to that rumor. In light of this recent case. Maybe the situation I was aware of when I was in high school--if it turns out to be true--shows how attitudes about such relationships have changed? Who knows, maybe they did get together after she graduated, and got married, and the two lived happily ever after. I would be interested to find out if the administration found out, if he got in trouble. He didn't while I was there.

Annie and Maggie said...

Here's my take:
Being a somewhat promiscuous teen myself, I find it hard to believe this ex-student was a true victim, but again, I don't know the whole situation (none of us do). I know that when I was that age, I would know if I was being preyed upon by a authority figure, and I certainly knew right from wrong, and yet was a willing participant.

The thing about this story (and multitudes very similar) is that we lump these guys/gals into a large category when there are differing circumstances surrounding each and every one. Was it rape? Probably not. Was it forced? Probably not. Was it illegal regardless? Yep. No "probably" about it.

Unfortunately, because it was illegal under the statutory rape category, and because our justice system is so flawed, law enforcement does everything they can to make at least 1 count stick, including requesting other potential victims to come forward via television news (which invites every money-hungry nut-case to come forward), and piling on multiple counts that may or may not have a darn thing to do with the truth of the situation. This includes a bail most cannot make (even though they only have to come up with 10% -- $25k is still more than most have in the bank).

In Oregon we have what we call Measure 11. Many of these sexual abuse (and I use the word "abuse" loosely) crimes fall under Measure 11 which automatically gives the perp 6.5 years in federal prison with no possibility of parole and the joy of being on the National sex offender registry for the remainder of their born days.

So, with the law looking for at least 1 count to stick, piling up charges like cord wood, and a bail set to make it impossible for anyone to be released, a person "sounds" guilty to a jury -- because that's the way juries think - they're human and you can't help but think that when you're in that jury room (I know, I've been there on more than one occasion).

Juries aren't allowed to make decisions based on gray areas - the count either matches what the law says, or it doesn't. Yes or No. Guilty or Not Guilty.

Bottom line, we can't judge this guy based on the counts, the age of the kid, the bail amount -- nothing -- until he has his day in court and the whole story comes out - and even then WE WILL NEVER KNOW the whole story.

And while I'm on this rant, imagine being that guy if none of this happened at all. After all, it's just an accusation at this point, right? This guy has a tarnished reputation because people will always wonder (that's just what we do), he's going to have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars defending himself, and even still he may spend time in prison, whether he did it or not (again, juries don't like even thinking about sexual abuse in any form).

The media is going to spin it however they want, people are going to make decisions based on media reports and rumor, and one way or another, this guy is going to pay (guilty or not).

Annie (of Annie and Maggie)

Anonymous said...

Castle Hill Bill I could not agree more with you.

Anonymous said...

Heh, Castle Bill Hill great post. Although I concur I have to wonder why you did not post it with Claycord? I lurk there, too. Oh, I understand why it is here. The discussion is rich, thoughtful and thought provoking.

So I am forced to self reflection. For me it is fear. I have no teenage daughters, young children still in school yet the issue raises primal fear. I wonder, was it because yesterday was 9-11, the economic collapse of our country the endless, useless battle on health care (as presented by the media?) Am I conditioned now toward fear and paranoia? Am I triggered by others fear and paranoia?

Just weird monkey-mind thinking on a rainy day


Anonymous said...

I have at various periods in my life taught at the college level. Some of the women were exceptionally attractive and some were interested in activities beyond school none of which I ever pursued. As the teacher I always knew it would have been a stupid thing to do. Even though the law and age never would have applied in my case just simply being the teacher and student made it bad practice and a pretty simple ethical dilemma. No was the only answer. If Litton did hook up with a student even consensually it was a stupid decision with consequences that he was fully aware of. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.


Lisa Mc said...

At my Concord high school we had a 33-year-old teacher who slept with a 15-year-old student, and then two years later, lived with another 17-year-old student. He was finally asked to resign that year. Everyone had looked the other way before then. He also tried to "date" 16-year-old me but I was pretty grossed out by the whole thing.

On the flip side, he was one of the best teachers I ever had and my friends all agree with me on that. I think these guys who are attracted to teenagers should definitely not be teaching high school. They tend to be everyone's "pal" and have no sense of boundaries, making them interesting as teachers, but predatory as well. There's nothing that difficult about waiting for a student to graduate before beginning a relationship. Anyone who can't do that should not be teaching.

Anonymous said...

And yet, Castle Hill Bill, if something should happen to a child in a local school, everyone would be wringing their hands asking why wasn't something done...why weren't parents being more vigilant...why weren't the school administrators taking precautions?

Anonymous said...

Are you all kidding me?

AN ADULT TEACHER HAVING SEX WITH A STUDENT, and some of you think it is OKAY? And blame the law for intervening.
WOW-I don't know where you are all from, but STAY AWAY from my daughters!!!!!!

Who says she is 17? Maybe she is 14. They are about that age when they start high school. IS THAT OKAY?

She was his student, perhaps was at the time he HAD SEX with her. IS THAT OKAY?

Bail is $250,000, not the $10,000 the law requires for one act of statutory rape. So, maybe he had sex with her 25 times. IS THAT OKAY?

The law reads this way because the law has always felt that a person under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse. This is to protect the minor, the person under the age of 18.

The police would not have arrested him at the school unless they felt that he was an imminent danger at that time. So, I interpret that to mean that the sex was recent.

You all REALLY need to reassess your views I truly believe. It scares me what is written in this blog.

LeftCoast said...

Hi Anonymous at 5:09 p.m.,

I think I've read all the posts here, can you quote me where someone said it was ok?

Anonymous said...

8:19 pm

Tell me that is not true.

LeftCoast said...

It's not true. If you think someone here said it's ok, you need to re-read the posts.

MickeyMartin said...

Let us put in in some economic terms that more can understand.

Teacher represents school.

Teacher abuses power and sleeps with student.

Student family sues district for actions of their representative.

School loses millions.

Our already underfunded schools are now incredibly underfunded by the actions of one horny teacher.

Castle Hill Bill said...

Retta- Thanks for asking. I did fire off a post to right after I read some of the comments that 'Nutticus Rex' wrote. In my comments I expressed how offensive and rude Nutticus was to the stranger and how how totally wrong his conclusion was, "They got him!" My advice to him was to be vigilant and report 'suspicious' people, which he was and did, but let the professionals ie. Concord PD do the questioning and investigation. I sent my comments in after I proofread them and for some reason my comments weren't added to the rest of the posts. Was it a technical glitch and it got lost in cyberspace or did the 'mayor' choose to leave it off his blog? I don' know either, but thanks for asking.

Anonymous said...

castle hill bill, unfortunately claycord has decided to take on the task of moderating his posts which means only some (that serve him) get thru. Though it is a double edged sword. His blog in particular attracts nutcases left and right. BUT, I don't like reading censored blogs... we're all grown ups.. read or don't read. But I think he's dangerously close to providing too much info, to providing a medium for nutso psychos and for aiding the enthusiasm of the lynch mob. It's a matter of time before something bad happens to someone and claycord is brought into it. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

The girl is a liar and Mark Litton did not have sex with her. Definitley not in his house and thats how you know its a lie. His wife is a stay at home mom and she and the kids are ALWAYS around. this is complete bullshit. I had him as a teacher and know the girl. Shes lying.

blue said...

I agree with the person above me. I don't personally know the girl (I do know who she is), but from what I've heard about her, and from what I KNOW about Mr. Litton as a former student, this didn't happen the way she said it did. maybe it happened, yea. But when everyone at school starts "remembering" how much of a perve he was, and recalling all the uncomfortable moments they'd had with him, all AFTER the fact, you know it's bullshit.
besides, if anything did go down, she must have consented to it. why else would it have taken her months to confess?

Anonymous said...

My daughter is in 8th grade and I fight with her everyday about how provocatively she wants to dress for school. "Honey, you're not going to the beach! You're going to school!" Teen girls go to school half naked and wearing lots of make-up and reveling in their youthful seductiveness. Would not want to be a hetero male teacher or male student trying to learn.