An Alabama teacher accused of having sex with two students saw charges against her dismissed on the grounds that they're unconstitutional.
In a five-page decision, Judge Glenn E. Thompson dismissed the charges against former Decatur High School teacher Carrie Witt and an ex-aide at Falkville High, David Solomon. 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.
Witt's attorney argued that two students Witt is accused of having sex with weren't under her direct authority and were older than 16, Alabama's age of consent.
In April of this month, a former 30-year-old female teacher from Alabama pleaded guilty to having sexual intercourse with three high school students.
Thompson hedged his ruling, however, by saying it does not excuse the defendants' conduct.
"This same statute has been ruled constitutional by other circuit judges in the state", Anderson said. "Moreover, the court does not encourage any similarly situated party to engage with impunity in what may very well be criminal behavior". However, it is not confirmed that how the ruling will affect similar cases that have already been prosecuted.
"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. The judge said there was no testimony or evidence presented at the hearing where the court heard arguments on the law's constitutionality. If teachers or other school employees violate the law, they can be charged with a Class B felony that carries a punishment up to 20 years imprisonment.
Prior to the sex allegations, Witt taught history, psychology and social studies, as well as coaching the varsity girls' golf team and and junior varsity cheerleading.
Prosecutors must prove a teacher use his or her "position of authority" to "coerce, groom, or otherwise obtain the illegitimate consent of the alleged victims". Those laws either implicitly address sex between students and employees who exercise power over them, or students and employees at the same school.