According to a recent news article from WSFA, a teacher in Alabama was just arrested on two counts of a school employee engaging in sex act with a student under the age of 19. Authorities in Mobile say they received a tip through a link on the sheriff’s office website on August 22, and immediately began an investigation. She was arrested on these sex offense charges the same week they received the tip.
Authorities alleged they received information in the form of copies of text messages between defendant and her 17-year-old student, in which they discussed the fact they were engaged in a sexual relationship. She was working at a private faith-based school the student attended and was 33 years old at the time of the alleged incident. She was arrested and ordered held without bond at the county detention facility until a hearing can be held later in the week to determine if she will be released.
As our Birmingham criminal defense attorneys can explain, Section 13A-6-81 of the Alabama Criminal Code is the citation for the relatively new criminal charge of school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19. This section is applicable to cases where the student is either male or female, and consent is not a defense, pursuant to Subsection (a). While the term “deviant sexual intercourse” seems somewhat ambiguous, Subsection (c) goes on to define the term as any act of sexual gratification between unmarried people involving the sex organs of one of the participants and the mouth or anus of the other. Essentially, this is the state’s attempt to include oral or anal sex in the offense, using terms that are a holdover from when states tried to make these practices illegal in any circumstances.
In the State of Alabama, school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19 is a Class B felony, which carries a maximum penalty of not less than two years and not more than 20 years in a state penitentiary.
What makes this law somewhat more oppressive is that the age of 19 is the maximum age listed in the code section. Normally, in the State of Alabama, the age of consent to engage in sexual conduct is 16 years of age. Without this law, and the “victim” not being a student, this conduct would be legal, as it would be consensual sexual conduct and not statutory rape, due to victim’s age. With this new law, defendant now faces a maximum of 20 years in a state prison. There were two specific instances of illegal sexual conduct alleged in the criminal complaint, and, for that reason, the prosecutor has charged her with two separate counts. Though unlikely, there is the possibility of consecutive sentences and is often done to scare someone into taking a plea.
It is important to note, this defendant is presumed innocent, as charges are merely allegations of criminal conduct.