Alabama judge declares law criminalizing teacher-student sex unconstitutional
Aug 12 2017 by Desiree Burns
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". But Thompson said that the language of the law make it hard for court to determine whether both parties are consulting adults, whether the school employees are in a position of authority over the student and whether those employees used their authority to coerce the student into letting them hit it.
Thompson noted in his ruling that students can consent to sex under state law once they turn 16 unless someone uses a "position of authority" to "coerce, groom, or otherwise obtain the illegitimate consent of the alleged victims".
Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson told Decatur Daily he "respectfully disagrees with the court's ruling" and that he intends to file an appeal. Witt is a former teacher at Decatur High School who was arrested in March 2016 for allegedly having sex with two Decatur High students, one 17 and one 18.
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. Consent is not a defense.
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Witt was a cheerleading coach prior to the charges.
Officials started investigating when police received information that a teacher was having a sexual relationship with at least one student.
"It is this court's finding that the law grants these students the capacity to consent until and unless there is some showing that authority was used to obtain illegitimate or coerced consent", continued Thompson.
Thompson cited student-teacher sex laws in other states that he believes are constitutional.
"The statute at hands embeds an irrebuttable presumption that any sexual encounter between an employee of any school and any student in the state.is conclusively the result of a misuse of authority", the judge wrote. Those laws either implicitly address sex between students and employees who exercise power over them, or students and employees at the same school.