Judge Strikes Down Law that Outlaws Sex Between a Teacher and Her Students.
The State Law Used to Prosecute Teacher Criminalized Lawful Conduct
An Alabama teacher accused of having sex with two students had charges against her dismissed on Constitutional grounds. The defendant argued that the criminal statute used to charge her was unconstitutional because, in part, it was too vague. The Circuit Judge issued an Order declaring the statute unconstitutional and dismissed the charges.
Carrie Witt in March was charged with having sex with two students. One of the students was 17 and the other 18 at the time. In Alabama, the age of consent is 16, but the law prohibits teachers from having sex with students under the age of 19. The indictment against Witt was based entirely on the claim that she was a teacher who had sex with a student under 19.
The judge ruled that the law unlawfully prohibits the student from consenting to a sexual relationship because it does not require that the teacher was in a position of authority and used that authority over the student to acquire sex. Since both students were over 16, they possessed the authority to consent to sex.
OUR FREE OPINION
The judge is correct; the statute is too broad and overly inclusive because it criminalizes behavior that is lawful. Without the requirement of proving that the teacher was in a position of authority at the time of the act and that she used that power (authority) to induce the student to have sex, the statute prohibits lawful sexual activity. The purpose of statutes that outlaw sex between students and teachers is to prevent teachers from taking advantage owing to their position.