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.