North Alabama judge rules state's teacher-student sex law is unconstitutional


A Morgan County Circuit Court Judge has ruled the Alabama Law that criminalizes high school teachers having sex with students is unconstitutional, and dismissed charges in two cases.

The judge ruled that "the cases against two high school staff Carrie Witt a teacher and David Solomon, a former high school aide will be dismissed because the law used to charge the two in court violates their 14th amendment rights". However, the Judge ruled that the crux of the law actually rested on three areas: whether the parties were consenting adults, whether the school employees were in positions of authority over the students, and whether the employees abused their power to coerce or groom the students or to obtain illegitimate consent.

In the order, the judge challenged Alabama's law which says an educator can not engage in a sex act with a student under age 19 when the state's legal age of consent is 16.

'If no such position of authority is alleged, the defendant must be permitted to show consent as a defense'.

Prosecutors said they have spoken to the state Attorney General's office, which will appeal the decision. "If that is the case they can not charge (her) with a crime".

Up until now, it has been against the law in Alabama for a school employee to have sexual relations with any student under the age of 19.

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Thompson hedged his ruling, however, by saying it does not excuse the defendants' conduct. Thompson said the law is problematic because it doesn't consider whether the school employee and student are in the same class, school or school system.

The 44-year-old teacher allegedly had sex with a 17-year-old male student and then had another relationship with an 18-year-old. "Moreover, the court does not encourage any similarly situated party to engage with impunity in what may very well be criminal behavior". So, it will be interesting the watch and see if other courts agree with judge Thompson's opinion.

The law, first put on the books in 2010, says that if convicted of the offense, which is a felony, the person has to register as a sex offender and face up too 20 years in prison.

The judge in his ruling also cited laws from other states which make it a requirement for the educator to be in a direct position of authority over the student or be enrolled in the same school where the educator is employed.

McDearmond said Thursday the law could be misapplied, but he believes that didn't happen in the Solomon case.