Texas court's free speech ruling allows adults to 'sext' kids

10:42 AM, Feb 26, 2014   |    comments
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Houston (KHOU) -- A recent ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is allowing teachers and other adults to legally 'sext' kids.

This week, prosecutors dropped a case against a Forth Worth area teacher accused of exchanging 688 sexually explicit texts with 13-year-old student in just six days.

According to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office, an appeals court ruling found those text messages to be protected speech.

Sean Arlis Williams, a junior high teacher in the suburb of Everman, has been cleared of criminal charges.

Prosecutors say the decision resulted in an October 2013 ruling.

The ruling came in the case of a Harris County man accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to a student.

John Christopher Lo, a former choir director at Cleveland Middle School and Cleveland High School, was arrested in 2008.

Houston Police alleged that Lo sent the inappropriate messages when he worked at Clear Creek ISD.

Lo's attorney argued that the statue was too broad, and the courts agreed.

"These characters aren't carrying through on anything. All they're doing is sending messages back and forth, so they're the junior varsity of the predators," said KHOU 11 News Legal Expert Gerald Treece.

Treece says the 2005 statute, which made sexually explicit online communication between an adult and minor illegal, isn't specific enough.

"It prohibits any sexual speech out of anything, from the bible to Shakespeare," explained Treece.

Some defense attorneys believe those who have been convicted under the 2005 statute may have grounds for appeal.

Treece believes it will be up to the next legislature to fix the law so it works as intended.

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