The court noted that the State has an abiding interest in protecting people from being preyed on by someone in authority over them, such as teachers, wardens, clergy members and psychologists.
- An Alabama high school teacher accused of having sex with two male students has had her criminal case tossed by a judge who ruled the state's teacher-student sex law 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.
Witt, 44, was arrested in March 2016 when police said she had sex with two teenagers - one who was 17 and the other 18 - when they were her students at Decatur High.
In yet another case in the state of Alabama, a teacher was charged with engaging in sex with a student aged 17 years. 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.
"The court acknowledges that a disparity of power may inherently exist in a teacher/student relationship, but it clearly does not exist between every school employee and student regardless of where the student is enrolled", the judge wrote.
The law prohibits any school employees from having sex with students who are younger than 19.
Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson told AL.com that the attorney general's office has been contacted and will handle the appeal.
The judge handling this case stated that the charges against the teacher could not be dismissed despite the victim's lawyer terming the accusations as unconstitutional. "If no such position of authority is alleged, the defendant must be permitted to show consent as a defense".
WHNT reported that Thompson explained that there is a responsibility by the school to protect students from being taken advantage of by someone in a power position.
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. It doesn't matter if the student consented, even if they are of the age where they can legally do so in other situations.
"Solomon was pursuing a career in teaching and knew this behavior was unacceptable", McDearmond said.