Published: Sat, August 12, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Alabama judge calls teacher sex charges unconstitutional

Alabama judge calls teacher sex charges unconstitutional

A judge ruled on Friday that a state law outlawing sex between school employees and students under the age of 19 is unconstitutional.

He also dismissed charges against David Solomon, a former teaching aide at Falkville High School who was accused with having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student. The judge further ruled that "the court found that the students were above the #Age Of Consent until investigators conclude that the school's staff used their authority to coerce the students".

Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson told Decatur Daily he "respectfully disagrees with the court's ruling" and that he intends to file an appeal.

Witt, 44, was accused of having sex with two students, ages 17 and 18.

The law, first put on the books in 2010, says that if convicted of the offense, which is a felony, the person has to register as a sex offender and face up too 20 years in prison. "He writes: ".this court does not endeavor to absolve any wrongdoing or to excuse the defendants. Consent is not a defense. "If no such position of authority is alleged, the defendant must be permitted to show consent as a defense".

No one is yet sure how the ruling will affect similar cases that have already been prosecuted.

Prior to the sex allegations, Witt taught history, psychology and social studies, as well as coaching the varsity girls' golf team and and junior varsity cheerleading.

Thompson wrote that while the state has a legitimate goal in protecting certain classes of people, like students, prisoners and patients from being coerced by teachers, wardens or doctors, the law doesn't narrowly address that issue.

"The statute at hand embeds an irrebuttable presumption that any sexual encounter between an employee of any school and any student (without qualification as to class, school, or school system) is conclusively the result of misuse of authority", the judge wrote.

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. "The state has never said it was other than consensual".

In April of this month, a former 30-year-old female teacher from Alabama pleaded guilty to having sexual intercourse with three high school students. Those laws either implicitly address sex between students and employees who exercise power over them, or students and employees at the same school.

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