EXCLUSIVE: Media Matters confirms student at center of Fox fueled Jennings controversy was of legal age
October 02, 2009 1:40 pm ET by Karl Frisch
For several days now conservatives in the media have been on a witch-hunt for Kevin Jennings, the U.S. Department of Education's director of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. Led by Fox News, the right-wing media have claimed that 21 years ago, when Jennings was a 24-year-old teacher at Concord Academy in Massachusetts, he "cover[ed] up statutory rape" by not reporting to authorities a conversation he had with a student who told him about being involved with an "older man."
They have attacked Jennings with homophobic, anti-gay rhetoric, falsely accused him of covering up or encouraging "statutory rape" and asked for his resignation or firing.
Media Matters for America has exclusively obtained the Massachusetts drivers' license of the student confirming that at the time of the incident, he was at least sixteen years of age -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts.
Jennings' 2006 memoir, "Mama's Boy, Preachers Son", makes clear that he began teaching at Concord Academy, the student in question's school, in late August or September 1987.
Additionally, in his 1994 book, One Teacher in Ten: Gay and Lesbian Educators Tell Their Stories, Jennings described the student as "a sophomore boy who I came to know in 1987, my first year of teaching at Concord Academy, in Concord, Massachusetts."
The following scanned image of the student's current drivers' license has been heavily redacted to protect his identity.
This should put to rest claims made by Fox News and other conservatives that Jennings covered up "statutory rape" or "molestation." To continue reporting such reckless speculation is at best willful disregard for the facts and at worst journalistic malpractice.