Hansell’s sexual assault bill makes progress

PENDLETON – Work sessions were underway yesterday (Thursday) as Senate Bill 649 continues to progress before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation proposed by Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Athena) would make misdemeanor sexual contact with an underage victim a felony if the adult is the victim’s teacher.

In 2009, Oregon amended the misdemeanor definition to move the crime up to the felony level if the perpetrator was the victim’s coach. Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus says adding teachers makes sense.

“What is the difference between the power dynamic with a teacher and a student or a coach and an athlete,” he wondered. “It’s really not there. There’s really no difference.”

Hansell, who created the bill after Andrew DeYoe, a former teacher at Weston-McEwen High School entered guilty pleas to two misdemeanors involving sexual harassment of a student.

“This really goes to show Sen. Hansell’s continued work with his constituents,” Primus said.

The bill is also being sponsored by Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Milwaukie).