The attorney for a former Oklahoma high school basketball coach accused of raping a 16-year-old female student is challenging a state law that prohibits school employees from having sex with students, the Oklahoman reports.
David Slane’s client, 33-year-old Tyrone Nash, is charged with five counts of second-degree rape and five counts of forcible oral sodomy. His attorney is fighting to have the charges dismissed, citing a March 29 decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court to overturn a man’s conviction in a similar case.
Nash, who taught and coached basketball at Western Heights High School in Oklahoma City, was arrested Sept. 9 of last year after the student told police she had been having sex with a teacher.
Slane said the girl, who was a sophomore at the time of the sexual relationship, testified at a January preliminary hearing for Nash that she consented to all of the acts and acknowledged initiating contact with him.
Under Oklahoma law, the age of consent for sexual intercourse and oral sodomy is 16, but there is an exception that makes it illegal for school employees to have sex with anyone under the age of 20, according to KRMG. If found guilty, the teacher or school employee could be classified as a sex offender for life.
"Theoretically there could be a young man hired in the summer to cut the grass, and if he was involved with that young woman he could be charged with rape," Slane told KRMG.
The Oklahoman reports that Nash was not the girl’s teacher, and that she was a volunteer helper for the basketball team he coached. Even so, he can still be charged with rape, which is why Slane is advocating for the law to be modified to only apply to teachers and other school employees who wield some sort of power or authority over a student.
“I'm not saying that it's OK for teachers to have sex with students,” Slane said. “What I'm saying is this statute is poorly written and unconstitutional.”
According to the Oklahoman, Slane says the law is unconstitutional because if two people are of age of consent, they have a constitutional right to privacy, which includes sexual relations.
The law that was struck down earlier this year in Arkansas prohibited sexual contact between students younger than 21 and their teachers, KRMG reports. In that instance, the student in question was 18.
Slane says he is prepared to take the fight to the Oklahoma Supreme Court if necessary, according to KWTV. Nash’s case is scheduled to go to trial in late October, and the defense is expecting a ruling on its motion to have the age of consent law declared unconstitutional before the trial begins.