Teachers having sex with students: Breaking down the law

Another teacher was accused of having sex with a student in Alabama.

Posted: Aug 1, 2018 10:46 PM

WAAY 31 did some digging into the state law that makes it illegal for teachers to have sex with students.

This comes on the heels of another teacher, this time a substitute in Florence, being charged with having sex with a student.

We learned Alabama's law is relatively unique compared to others across the country.

Mary Pat Riley is a retired elementary school teacher.

"Every time I here one of these stories I'm eternally saddened," said Riley.

Whether its a male, or female, teacher Riley comes back to one point:

It's an abuse of power from someone students should trust.

"That's the last person that children should need to be protected from," said Riley.

There are no hard statistics showing exactly how many teachers across the country are charged with having sex with a student.

Huntsville Attorney Mark McDaniel said its partially because Alabama is one of only fifteen states to have laws on the books making it illegal to have sex with a student.

"All these states that don't have a law like that, so they don't have teachers being prosecuted. So, yes, you're going to have a greater number of teachers and school employees in Alabama prosecuted, because you have a very tough law in the state alabama. A very tough law," said McDaniel.

In Alabama the age of consent is 16, but the law against teachers having sex with students says its illegal to have sex with any student under 19.

That is the debate at the heart of the Carrie Witt case in Morgan County.

Her attorney's argue her constitutional rights are being infringed upon.

Right now, her attorney's have the option of taking her case to the Alabama Supreme Court after her original aquital was overturned by the Alabama Court of Appeals.

Putting the constitutional rights debate aside, Riley said teachers who think about doing this simply need to move on.

"The world's a big place. There are lots of people. There are other places to meet potential mates," said Riley.

A teacher convicted of having sex with a student can face 2-20 years in prison.

To be clear; since the age in the law says 19 college professors could also be prosecuted for having sex with college freshman.

Mark McDaniel said it's unlikely the state legislature will look at altering the law and simply let all changes happen through the legal system as cases come up.

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