TRENTON - Some New Jersey lawmakers have introduced a bill to enhance the law preventing sexual relationships between teachers and their students in the state.

Assemblymen Raj Mukherji and Reed Gusciora introduced a bill that would criminalize sexual contact between teachers and students who are under 20 years old. It was approved unanimously by an Assembly panel Monday.

Under the proposed law, a person would be guilty of sexual assault if they have sex with a student who is between the ages of 18 and 20. The law would affect anyone who is a teacher, substitute teacher, school bus driver, other school employee, contracted service provider or volunteer who has a supervisory or disciplinary position over the student.

“Obviously there’s a loophole that exists in current law.  We have more high school students who are 18 or 19 years old now than we used to and these reports are becoming far too commonplace,” said Assemblyman Gusciora in a statement.  “Teachers need to realize that regardless of whether a student consents, they are still abusing their authority and the trust placed in them.  It’s inappropriate and we need to close this loophole to make that message clear.”

If the law passes, violators could face five to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $150,000.

The bill must now be considered by the full New Jersey Assembly.

Alabama, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington are all states that currently have similar laws.