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Former Teacher Argues that Custodial Sexual Battery Conviction Does Not Make the Grade

William Tinsley, a 28-year old former teacher, is waging a battle to have his conviction for custodial sexual battery dropped.

Tinsley was convicted of custodial sexual battery for allegedly fondling a 16 year-old in his home.

According to Tinsley’s criminal defense attorney, he and the alleged victim were not at school at the time the supposed fondling occurred.

Therefore, he could not be found guilty of custodial sexual battery because the alleged sexual activity did not take place on school property.

Title XLVI of the Florida Statutes addresses sexual battery. In this section the applicable statute states that custodial sexual battery is committed when a person in a position of control or authority in a probation, community control, controlled release, detention, custodial, or similar setting, acts in such a manner as to lead the victim to reasonably believe that the offender is in a position of control or authority as an agent or employee of government.

The Florida Supreme Court was presented with the issue of the applicability of custodial sexual battery, as it related to a teacher, in the case of Hallberg v. State, 649 So.2d 1355 (Fla. 1994).

In this case, the Florida Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision that James Hallberg was guilty of custodial sexual battery when sexual acts between Hallberg and the victim occurred outside the regular school year and not on school property.

The Court specifically addressed the application of the phrase a “person who stands in a position of familial or custodial authority to a child.” The Court found “that a teacher, without any teaching responsibility or extracurricular activity supervisory authority over a child during a summer recess, is not in a position of custodial authority.”

While the ruling in Hallberg is not dispositive in Tinsley’s case, it could provide strong precedent for adjudication in Tinsley’s appeal when the judge decides whether or not to allow the charge to stand.


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