Columbia political science professor David Epstein, 46, was charged December 9th, 2010 with having a sexual relationship with his daughter, 24. Epstein, who also blogged for Huffington Post apparently carried on the “consensual” relationship for three years starting when she was an adult. An exchange of “twisted text messages” between the two was discovered, said the New York Daily News. His former wife, Sharyn O’Halloran, is chair of the executive committee of the University Senate and a tenured professor at Columbia. University spokesman Robert Hornsby said that Epstein “is now on administrative leave and will not be teaching students.” Epstein’s Facebook status has since been changed from married to single.
It’s interesting to note that although both Epstein and his daughter were both adults at the time this relationship started, only David Epstein has been charged with one count of incest in the third degree. Epstein faces up to four years behind bars if convicted. It’s not uncommon for prosecutors to charge the person in the power position in such cases. Incest cases usually involve minors but in the few rare cases involving adults, the person in the power position faces greater legal jeopardy. The one exception was the Florida case of Alton Everett Smith who fathered a child with his own daughter Kristilyn Smith.
In that case, Kristilyn Smith was charged with incest and child neglect in both Flagler and Volusia County in Florida. She pleaded no contest to incest charges in Volusia county and pleaded no contest to child neglect charges in Flagler and received probation of 5 years and 15 years to run concurrently. That case was more convoluted because it also involved prostitution, child neglect, and child pornography in the part of Alton E Smith. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of incest, one count of living off the earnings of prostitution and 52 counts of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, followed by 15 years’ sex-offender probation and will be required to register as a sex offender.