Education

Is This Law Preventing Student-Teacher Sex ‘Unconstitutional’?

An Alabama teacher who pleaded guilty to sexual contact with students under the age of 19 is appealing her conviction and three-year sentence, according to a Tuesday report.

Former Pickens Academy teacher Charli Jones Parker previously pleaded guilty to sexual contact with two 16-year-old students, but is now arguing that the law forbidding her action is unconstitutional, reported Tuscaloosanews.com.

“Alabama law does not make it a crime for members of other occupations to have consensual sex with 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds, even when there is a position of trust or authority,” said Virginia Buck, Parker’s appellate attorney. “A 65-year-old doctor, minister, therapist, or attorney is not subject to criminal liability in Alabama for having consensual sex with a 16-year-old over whom he has authority or with whom he holds a position of trust.”

A Morgan County, Fla., judge ruled that the law the teacher is accused of violating was unconstitutional in August 2017, the same month as Parker’s trial. The state of Alabama appealed the decision, but the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has yet to provide a verdict on the matter.

The law in question, AL Code Section 13A-6-82, states that consent in a relationship between a teacher and a student under 19-years-old is irrelevant. The law contains a provision for soliciting sex, as well.

“School employees have been unfairly singled out and are being sent to prison for something that, at most, might cost people their job or their license in any other profession,” said Buck. “Certainly, anyone who has sexual contact with someone without their consent, or who is under the age of consent, should be criminally punished. But to send someone to prison for a consensual sexual relationship with someone over the age of consent solely because they are a school employee treats school employees differently than everyone else.”

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Parker and her husband, James “Jamie” Franklin Parker III, both got arrested in March 2016. The husband, who also taught at Pickens Academy, pleaded guilty to sexual contact with a one-time student.

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