Coach sentenced under Pennsylvania law barring sex with students

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 10, 2015 4:35 PM

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania high school rowing coach was sentenced on Tuesday to serve up to 23 months in prison for her consensual sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student, prosecutors said.

Megan Batykefer, 32, who coached at North Allegheny Senior High School in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wexford, was found guilty in August of sexual assault by a jury at the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

In addition to prison time, Batykefer was sentenced to three years' probation.

Batykefer is being allowed to remain free on bond pending a planned appeal by her attorney, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office said. 

She became romantically involved with the student she had been coaching at the high school and had a sexual relationship with him in 2014, according to court papers. 

While the legal age for consenting to sex is 16 in Pennsylvania, a 2012 law allows felony charges of institutional sexual assault to be filed against teachers who have sex with students of any age.

Batykefer's lawyer, who could not be reached for comment on the sentence, argued at trial that the law was overly broad, unconstitutional and should be thrown out. 

Several other states, including Texas and New Jersey, have similar laws against sex between teachers and students of any age. 

In Washington state, choir teacher Matthew Hirschfelder challenged a state law prohibiting sex between teachers and 18-year-old students. But the state's Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the age of the student was irrelevant.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Daley in Pittsburgh; Editing by Laila Kearney and Peter Cooney)