New bill could mean tougher penalties for teachers who have sex with students

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

Channel 9 has covered many cases of local teachers accused of having sex with students. Now lawmakers in Tallahassee hope to cut down on the behavior by increasing the punishment teachers face.

If the punishments are increased, it would not affect teachers in central Florida who already have pending cases, Channel 9's Kathi Belich learned.

Rep. Jake Raburn said high school student in Hillsborough County asked him to propose tougher penalties because the problem was growing in their area.

Laura Pace was a teacher at Eustis High School when she was accused of having a sexual relationship with not one but two students there.

Pace was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison, but she was released after serving a year and eight months.  She also had to register as a sex offender.

A bill sponsored by Raburn would make sexual crimes involving educators and students more serious, with the maximum penalties increased.

Parents of students at Eustis High School told Channel 9 they support the idea.

Last year, two local teachers were accused of having sexual relationships with students.

Jones High School teacher Hugh Broomes faces 20 charges and former Lyman math teacher Scott Kimbrough is accused of having sex with two students. 

House Bill 485 has passed through all the House committees and one Senate committee.

Raburn's office said there seems to be a lot of support but a vote has not been scheduled yet.