Tom Bagwell, a Libertarian congressional candidate from Wyandotte, Michigan, caused quite a stir online when he made Facebook comments pertaining to a child sex abuse story in the news right now. What made the story even more sensational, it seems, is the fact that, when confronted about his comments, Bagwell did not deny them or claim to have been misunderstood, but rather, stood by what he had posted.
The story has to do with a 24-year-old teacher named Alexandria Vera, who police say has been engaged in a long-standing sexual relationship with one of her middle school students. The student, who was 13-years-old when the relationship began, is said to have started the relationship by flirting with Vera on Instagram.
Vera has allegedly told investigators that she and the boy “had sex almost daily,” and that their relationship was sanctioned by his parents. She claims that his family welcomed her, allowed the boy to have almost nightly “sleep overs” at her house, and was excited about the baby she was going to have as a result of their relationship.
As a result, Vera has been placed on leave from her position as an English teacher at Stovall Middle School, and the mother of the boy is being investigated by CPS for being supportive of the relationship. Vera is facing 25 to 99 years in prison for child sex abuse.
But the controversy surrounding Bagwell began when he posted a comment on a Houston TV station’s Facebook page in response to this story, saying that “The boy was consenting. The parents supported it. The age of the participants doesn’t matter. Personal relationships are not the business of the state.” He then went on to state that “Hard age of consent laws don’t take into account the actual maturity of the child.” and that “If there is consent, there is no rape.”
This brought about some very significant backlash from other people posting, one of whom asked, “Exactly what mitigating circumstances would make it OK for a 24 year old woman to have sex with her 13 year old student?” Another person stated emphatically that this was RAPE, “not a sexual ‘relationship’.”
In defense of his comments, Bagwell told the media that he had given his opinion based on his having “some deeply rooted libertarian views,” He also said that he understood that some of his views may be considered controversial and that the general public may not agree with them.
In response to the people who were angry about Bagwell’s views on what the law considers to be child abuse, Bagwell said that “children should be protected as best we can,” but went on to explain that “unfortunately, the unintended consequences of government action can do more harm than good. If there is actual abuse, by all means charge with a crime, but it should not be a snap judgment.”