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.
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 accused of having sex with two students, ages 17 and 18. Solomon, 27, was accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student.
“The Court finds this statute unconstitutional as applied to these defendants,” wrote Thompson in the order. “In finding so, this court does not endeavor to absolve any wrongdoing or to excuse the defendants. Moreover, the court does not encourage any similarly situated party to engage with impunity in what may very well be criminal behavior.”
In Alabama the age of consent is 16, and state law prohibits school employees from having sex with students under 19. Violators could be charged with a Class B felony, carrying a punishment of up to 20 years behind bars.
Defense attorneys argued the law is too broad and that it violates teachers’ equal protection right under the 14th Amendment, treating teachers and other school employees differently than other Alabamians.
Thompson said the law embeds an “irrebuttable presumption” that any sexual encounter between an employee of any school and any student in the state is the result of a misuse of authority.
“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,” Thompson wrote. “If no such position of authority is alleged, the defendant must be permitted to show consent as a defense.”