WASHINGTON A Libertarian candidate for a Michigan congressional seat is getting some attention for voicing his opinion that age-of-consent laws should be changed to consider the case-by-case circumstances where an adult and a minor are in a consensual sexual relationship.
Tom Bagwell of Wyandotte made his comments Thursday on a Houston TV’s station’s Facebook page beneath a post on a story about a 24-year-old female middle school teacher who has been charged with having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old male student.
In his comments, Bagwell said while “children should be protected,” the “unintended consequences of government action can often cause more harm.” He went onto say that reforms in state consent laws are needed that force prosecutors to “look at each case separately rather than simple hard age cutoffs.”
Another poster on the KPRC2/Click2Houston page, remarked, “Exactly what mitigating circumstances make it OK for a 24-year-old to have sex with her 13-year-old student?”
Bagwell responded, “Hard age of consent laws don't take into account the actual maturity of the child. Some teenagers are able to handle these relationships many can't. If there is actual abuse by all means charge with a crime, but it should not be a snap judgment.”
WDIV-TV (Channel 4) reported on Bagwell’s comments Friday afternoon.
When reached by the Free Press, Bagwell stood by the remarks, noting that according to the reports out of Texas, the teacher and the student not only were in a consensual relationship but that the boy’s parents knew about it, had met the teacher and were supportive.
“My view is simply this: We shouldn’t jump the gun on these issues and automatically go to the worst (scenario),” he said. “Where there is actual consent between the parties, we should look at it on a case-by-case basis to see if coercion was involved.”
“I gave an opinion based on me having some deeply rooted libertarian views,” said Bagwell, who has filed as a Libertarian candidate for Michigan’s 12th congressional district seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn. “I have some views that I know the general public might say, Eh, I don’t like that.’”