An Alabama judge has ruled this week that a state law criminalizing teacher-student sex is unconstitutional — and dismissed charges against a teacher and aide accused of having relations with their students, according to local media.
Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson issued the ruling on Thursday — dismissing the charges against Carrie Witt, who taught at Decatur High School, and David Solomon, a former aide at Falkville High, AL.com reported.
The law, created in 2010, prohibits school employees from having sex with students under 19 — and violators could be charged with a Class B felony, carrying a punishment of up to 20 years behind bars, the site reported. The law requires those convicted to register as sex offenders — and consent is not a defense.
But defense attorneys have argued that the law violates teachers’ equal protection right under the 14th Amendment, because it treats teachers and other school employees differently than other citizens, the outlet reported. In Alabama, other adults who have consensual sex with 16-year-olds do not face criminal prosecution.
“The Court finds this statute unconstitutional as applied to these defendants,” Thompson wrote in his order, according to. “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.”
Witt, 43, a history, psychology and social studies teacher who also coached girls’ golf and junior varsity cheer, was charged with two counts of a school employee having sex with a student in March of 2016, the outlet reported.
She is accused of having sex with a male student who was 17 when the relationship started and another male student who was 18, authorities said.
Solomon, 26, was fired later that month after his arrest on one count of a school employee having sex with a student.
He is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old female student whom he met on Facebook, police said.
Judges have been asked to dismiss the charges in other similar cases on unconstitutionality grounds, but have neglected to do so,reported.
“We’ve already been in touch with the [Attorney General’s] Office and they are going to handle the appeal, which is typical when a state statute is attacked on a constitutional basis,” Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson told the outlet.