Alabama judge says law criminalizing teacher-student sex is unconstitutional

Elias Hubbard
August 11, 2017

Carrie Witt, a 44-year-old Alabama high school teacher who accused of having sex with two students, has had her charges dropped after a judge ruled it as unconstitutional.

But Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson ruled that "school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student" charges against former high school teacher Carrie Witt and former high school aide David Solomon should be dismissed because the law is too broad and violates their 14th amendment rights, which secures one's equal protection under the law, reported AL.com.

Thompson explained in writing that because of how the law is written, it makes it hard for courts to determine if both parties were consenting adults, if the teacher or school employee were in positions of authority over the students and whether the teacher or school employee abused their power to coerce or groom students, or to obtain illegitimate consent.

In Alabama, the age of consent is 16, though the law prohibits teachers from having sex with students under the age of 19.

Solomon was sacked by the company he worked for after his March 29, 2016, arrest on one count of a school employee having sex with a student.

Thompson hedged his ruling, however, by saying it does not excuse the defendants' conduct.

The ruling does allow the District Attorneys to refile charges under other appropriate laws.

The court held that prosecutors must prove a school employee "was actually in a position of authority over the victim/student and that the position of authority was abused to obtain consent".

The ruling in the case states, "The Court finds this statute unconstitutional as applied to these Defendants".

While other courts can consider the decision in similar cases, Anderson said Thompson's ruling will not directly affect cases in other counties. The judge said there was no testimony or evidence presented at the hearing where the court heard arguments on the law's constitutionality.

"The statute at hand embeds an irrebuttable presumption that any sexual encounter between an employee of any school and any student (without qualification as to class, school, or school system) is conclusively the result of misuse of authority", the judge wrote. Furthermore, Thompson said that there was no proof Witt used her position of authority to force the two students to have sex.

Witt was charged with two counts of a school employee having sex with a student.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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