Former teacher fights law against sex with students

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WEST HARTFORD, Conn. –A former Catholic high school teacher accused of having consensual sex with a 16-year-old student is challenging the state law that prohibits that behavior.

Matthew Glasser, 29, a former music teacher at Northwest Catholic High School, is charged with second-degree sexual assault under a law that makes having sex with students a crime, even if the student has reached the age of consent, which is 16 in Connecticut.

"We believe that the statute infringes on a fundamental right to sexual privacy and therefore does not hold up under constitutional scrutiny," Jeremy Donnelly, one of Glasser’s lawyers, said Friday.

In their legal brief seeking a dismissal of the charges, Glasser’s lawyers contend that privacy rights cannot be infringed upon unless there’s a "compelling state interest" in doing so. The state has fallen short of defining that interest, they argue.

A similar motion in the case of a New Haven teacher is pending before the state Supreme Court.

School officials at Northwest Catholic learned of the affair in early May 2005 after the girl feared she might be pregnant, according to the arrest warrant.

The girl told police she had sex with Glasser at least eight times.

Michael Griffin, the school’s president, said at the time that school officials had not received other complaints about Glasser and, before the investigation, were pleased with his work with the band and choir groups.

Advocates for sexual assault victims said the law is needed because teachers hold such sway over a student’s life, that consent to a sexual relationship is not possible.

"I think it’s appalling. It’s sick," said Terri Miller, president of Sesame, a national organization that works to prevent sex abuse by educators. "To make a claim like this shows you how sick this person is, that they think they have some kind of constitutional right to take advantage of children."

A hearing on Galsser’s motion has not been scheduled.

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