Carrie Witt, 44, was charged with having sex with two students between the ages of 16 and 19 while she taught at Decatur High School. The case against her was dismissed on Friday as unconstitutional
An Alabama judge dismissed the state’s case against a teacher accused of having sex with two students The 44-year-old woman saw charges against her dismissed on the grounds that the charges based on violating a law prohibiting school employees from having sex with students is unconstitutional.
The order could have statewide ramifications, as the Morgan County judge, Friday dismissed charges against another defendant on the similar grounds,as well. Carrie Witt, who was a teacher at Decatur High School, and David Solomon, who was a contract teacher at Falkville High School, both got on the equivalent of a judicial lotto.
Free to go: The judge ruled the prosecution case against the accused teacher, Carrie Witt was too broad and ‘unconstitutional’
Carrie Witt was suspended from her teaching job at Decatur High School in March 2016, but still continues to earn her salary
One of the teachers, Carrie Witt, in March was charged with having sex with two students between the ages of 16 and 19 while she taught at Decatur High School. Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson on Thursday dismissed both charges without prejudice, which means the state can still refile, WHNT reported.
In Alabama, the age of consent is 16, though the law prohibits teachers from having sex with students under the age of 19.
Judge Thompson in a 5-page ruling wrote the law forbidding sexual activity between consenting ages was too broad, adding the prosecution most prove the teacher was in a position of authority over her students if they want charges to stick, according to the news station.
“The court acknowledges that a disparity of power may inherently exist in a teacher/student relationship, but it clearly does not exist between every school employee and student regardless of where the student is enrolled,” the judge wrote. “By eliminating the requirement that the state show a position of authority, grooming, abuse, coercion, or lack of consent, the state criminalizes behaviors outside the state’s legitimate purpose.”
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.
For full transcript of Alabama Teacher-Student sex Order click here Alabama teacher-student sex order
The 44-year-old teacher allegedly had sex with a 17-year-old male student and then had another relationship with an 18-year-old. She was suspended from her teaching job in March 2016, but still continues to earn her salary, according to the newspaper.
Her attorney, Robert Tuten, argued the students were not under her direct authority when the relationships occurred and that they were both over the age of consent.
The judge cited a Kansas law in his ruling, pointing out that it specifically bars relationships between students and officials when students are enrolled at the school. Alabama law offers no such stipulation, according to WHNT.
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.
“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,” he wrote. “If no such position of authority is alleged, the defendant must be permitted to show consent as a defense.”
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.
27-year-old teacher David Thomas Solomon had his teacher-student sex case dismissed, Friday
Huntsville resident, David Solomon, 27, was fired by the company he worked for after his March 29, 2016, arrest on one count of a school employee having sex with a student. He was 25 at the time.
According to Hartselle police Sgt. Alan McDearmond, Solomon in his case was employed as a teacher at the same school in which the student was enrolled.
“They met at the school, but communicated through Facebook,” McDearmond said.”
Judge Thompson dismissed the charges without prejudice, which means the state can refile them.
“In order for justice to be served,” Thompson wrote, “the State must prove that a defendant/employee was actually in a position of authority over the victim/student and that the position of authority was abused to obtain consent.”
Thompson wrote that, in finding the law unconstitutional as applied to the defendants, “this Court does not endeavor to absolve any wrongdoing or to excuse the Defendants.”