In a surprising turn of events, an Alabama judge has deemed Alabama's teacher-student sex law unconstitutional, leaving two school officials free after they were charged with engaging in sexual conduct with a student.
Carrie Witt was facing potential prison time for allegedly having sex with two students between 16 and 19 years old while she taught at Decatur High School. 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 had argued that the two students Witt is accused of having sex with weren't under her direct authority and were capable of consenting, reports The Decatur Daily.
The law prohibits any school employees from having sex with students who are younger than 19. Consent is not a defense to the law, al.com reported.
Thompson in his ruling noted the "Court does not endeavor to absolve any wrongdoing", but said it's an overstep to immediately deny all possibilities of a consensual relationship.
Defendants were thus allowed to use consent as their defense if they did not use power to engage in sex with the students.
No one is yet sure how the ruling will affect similar cases that have already been prosecuted.
"Until the appellate courts have addresses the issue, I think it will depend on how individual judges rule on the law", Anderson said.
"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", continued Thompson. Solomon is accused of having sex with one student over the age of 16.
While acknowledging that in some situations, teachers sleeping with students could be an abuse of authority, Judge Thompson said in other situations that might not be the case, like if the student isn't in the teacher's class.
That was the case in Solomon's charges. Although a teacher may be in a position of authority, the judge found that it "clearly does not exist between every school employee and every student regardless of where that student is enrolled".