The new year at West High School has been marred with the admissions of a choir teacher that he had sex with two students. The case draws outrage like it did 1989, when a teacher at Bartlett High School was accused of similar behavior.
Christopher More has a rich voice and a gift for motivating students that made him a popular teacher at West High School -- not the kind of person you'd imagine being charged with having sex with students.
The case came to light on Christmas Eve, when a West High graduate called police and told them she and More had sexual relations when she was a senior at the age of 17.
More will be charged under what has become known as the Satch Carlson law, stemming from a case with very similar circumstances, involving a popular English teacher at Barlett High 22 years ago.
Anchorage police chief Mark Mew was a detective back then, and Carol Comeau was a school principal.
“I was really amazed it wasn't a law at the time,” Comeau said.
Back then, if a teacher had sex with a child over 16, it wasn't clear that it was against the law. The Satch Carlson case changed all that.
In 1989 Carlson was fired after he was accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student, but since the sex was consensual, it was unclear whether it was a crime.
"The low point was Satch Carlson in (Anchorage School) District-APD relationships," Mew said.
The police department wasn't happy with the way the school district was handling the case and served a search warrant on its administrative office looking for documents related to Carlson's conduct.
The battle almost dwarfed the magnitude of the crime.
“Another question in this matter is the police search of the Anchorage School District headquarters. At issue is the rights of the police investigation power and the rights of privacy,” reported KTUU reporter Tim Haas at the time.
In the end, Carlson was not convicted, but his case opened the door to better ways of dealing with cases involving teachers and others in positions of authority who engage in sex with someone under the age of 18.
The Legislature was quick to pass a law to address this loophole.
“Essentially what we want to do is make certain that students should be protected in high school before the age of 18, from sexual activity of adults. The Legislature feels very strongly about that. We will pass that in two weeks,” then-state Sen. Tim Kelly, of Anchorage, said in 1990.
Sen. Jim Duncan served in the legislature in the year when the Satch Carlson law was enacted. He said some lawmakers also wanted to go further and pushed to increase penalties for teachers convicted of sexual abuse.
“I think the emotions were running pretty high,” Duncan said Tuesday.
Duncan says it didn't help that Carlson was a popular figure, known for his articles in the Anchorage Daily News.
“It's sometimes tough to reconcile those feelings. But the Legislature has to do that, we finally did,” he said.
Nowadays, they all agree, the new law has made a difference in the case of Christopher More.