March 18, 2018

Alabama Teachers Can Have Sex With Their Students, Judge Rules

12 August 2017, 05:10 | Taylor George

Witt and Solomon Ashley Remkus

Witt and Solomon Ashley Remkus

An Alabama judge ruled Thursday that a law barring teachers from having sexual relationships with students old enough to consent is unconstitutional.

Witt, 44, had been charged in March 2016 with having sex with the students aged between 16 and 19 years old while teaching at Decatur High School in Decatur, Alabama.

Thompson explained in writing that because of how the law is written, it makes it hard for courts to determine if both parties were consenting adults, if the teacher or school employee were in positions of authority over the students and whether the teacher or school employee abused their power to coerce or groom students, or to obtain illegitimate consent.

The judge noted that state law allows students to legally have sex at age 16, as long as someone doesn't use their position of authority to obtain that consent.

Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson says he disagrees with the ruling. "He writes: ".this court does not endeavor to absolve any wrongdoing or to excuse the defendants. The judge who handed the case ruled that "current laws protect vulnerable people such as those who are mentally incapacitated and minors". Witt was a history, psychology and social studies teacher, who also coached girls' golf and junior varsity cheer.

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"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", Thompson wrote.

Officials started investigating when police received information that a teacher was having a sexual relationship with at least one student. "The state has never said it was other than consensual".

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. "If that is the case they can not charge (her) with a crime". Those laws either implicitly address sex between students and employees who exercise power over them, or students and employees at the same school.

The judge in his ruling also cited laws from other states which make it a requirement for the educator to be in a direct position of authority over the student or be enrolled in the same school where the educator is employed.

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