By Christy Strawser
ANN ARBOR (CBS Detroit) The story of a 24-year-old female teacher allegedly impregnated by her 13-year-old student shocked much of the world, with comments across the Internet pushing the same theme: “What was she thinking?”
Teacher Alexandria Vera, 24, immediately faced the fallout of her actions and surrendered to authorities on a charge of sexual abuse of a child. She’s being held on a $100,000 bond, according to Montgomery County sheriff’s spokesman Brady Fitzgerald.
A Wyandotte man running to unseat Democrat Rep. Debbie Dingell in the race for the 12th Congressional District raised eyebrows when he went on Facebook to proclaim the teacher potentially did nothing wrong.
Contacted by CBS Detroit, Bagwell, a Libertarian candidate, stood by his assertions.
“Here is my quote on that, my stance is clearly that age of consent laws in this country need to be reformed,” he said on Friday. “My personal view is … they need to take into account the maturity level of the participants. Not every case is boiler plate.
“Most of the time it’s abuse, but there are times like this case in Texas where the case isn’t cut and dried. I think there’s more to it… Generally speaking teenagers who are responsible should be able to make choices.”
Bagwell says his belief about the legality of sex with teenagers comes from his Libertarian philosophy that “government intervention doesn’t make things better.”
This question was posed: How about murder, should the government react to that?
“Murder is an aggressive act, a forcible rape of a child or anyone else is always wrong. But a situation where a teenager is a few years away from being an adult, it’s not a cut and dried crime,” Bagwell explained, adding, “We need to look at that more closely.”
Bagwell said he has never faced charges of any kind beyond traffic infractions, and his position isn’t because he wants to have sex with teens. “I think that’s just a knee jerk reaction to an extreme philosophical position … I don’t believe in drug laws, does that mean I smoke dope? No.”
The Facebook post shocked Zvi M. Walter, who worked in a psychiatric hospital on a unit for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and whose friends engaged with Bagwell on Facebook, including a social worker named Alyse and a teacher named Jimmy.
“I think it’s horrific. The idea that children–or even worse, their parents–can consent to having sex with an adult, especially an adult in an authority position such as a teacher, is dangerously ignorant. Obviously, teenagers can desire sex with adults or other teenagers, but teenagers are not known for their capacity for rational decision-making, especially where sex is concerned. This makes them ripe for exploitation by adults.
“Mr. Bagwell’s follow-up comment, that there should be solutions other than legal ones, is mad. What other way is there to punish someone who abuses their position of power, both in the child/adult sense and the student/teacher one? How exactly would “the free market” prevent child exploitation, and punish the exploiters? I hope those questions are put to Mr. Bagwell, and I hope that his responses are followed-up harshly when he moves the goalposts or tries to shift responsibility for the exploitation to anybody other than the exploiters.”
For his part, Bagwell said he understands his position isn’t popular and with or without it he’s probably not going to beat established candidate Dingell. “My goal is not to gain control of the state, it’s to educate people about individual liberty,” he said.
Before moving to Wyandotte, Bagwell lived in Ypsilanti, where he ran unsuccessfully for Ypsilanti City Council in 2004 and 2006. Announcing his candidacy, he wrote, “It will be a monumental task to beat Mrs. Dingell but I believe our message of true freedom, fiscal conservatism and social acceptance will resonate with folks”