In an order that could have statewide ramifications, a Morgan County judge today dismissed charges against two defendants charged with violating a law prohibiting school employees from having sex with students.
Circuit Court Judge Glenn Thompson ruled the law was unconstitutional as applied to Carrie Witt, 44, who was a teacher at Decatur High School, and David Solomon, 27, who was a contract teacher at Falkville High School.
"This 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 every student regardless of where the student is enrolled," Thompson 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 said he "respectfully disagrees with the court's ruling." He said the state Attorney General's Office and his office would file an appeal.
Witt was charged with two counts of a school employee having sex with a student. She was suspended from her position after her arrest on March 21, 2016, and continues to draw her salary from the school system.
Witt is accused of having sex with a male student who was 17 when the relationship started and another male student who was 18, police have said.
Witt's attorney, Robert Tuten, argued the students were not under her direct authority at the school and were above the state's legal age of consent, which is 16.
Solomon 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.
Solomon, who lived in Huntsville, was accused of having sex with a 17-year-old female student, police said. Hartselle police Sgt. Alan McDearmond said today Solomon taught at the same school in which the student was enrolled.
"They met at the school, but communicated through Facebook," McDearmond said."
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."