Carrollton, AL – A teacher who was convicted of having sex with a 16 year old student has appealed, claiming the state’s sex laws are unconstitutional.
Charli Parker, 31, pleaded guilty in August of 2017 to having sex with a student under 19 years of age, the Birmingham News reported. Parker is serving a three-year sentence in prison and is scheduled to be released in 2020.
"For her to be sitting in Julia Tutwiler Prison is ridiculous," her attorney, Virginia Buck, said.
Buck cited a case where, the same month that Parker was convicted, a Morgan County judge found the sex law unconstitutional, and said the statute was too broad to be properly interpreted, Tuscaloosa News reported.
She also said the statute should not apply to her client because the law wasn’t extended to include private school teachers until a month after Parker was charged. Parker taught at the private Pickens Academy in Carrollton.
In her brief to the court, Buck claimed the statute treated school employees different than anyone else.
“A doctor or therapist would be in a position of authority or trust over a patient, but it’s not a criminal offense with them to have sex [with] those patients if they are over the age of consent,” Buck said.
Buck described a hypothetical situation in her brief.
She said a 21-year-old janitor working for a Tuscaloosa school system could go to Gulf Shores for spring break and have sex with an 18-year-old from Daphne High School. Under the law, that janitor would be guilty of a felony, she said.
A similar situation actually occurred in a different state. In Connecticut, a 22-year-old female teacher was charged with three counts of felony sexual assault for having a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old male student who attended a different school in her school district.
The Connecticut sexual assault statute specifically prohibits people from having sex with students who attend a "school under the jurisdiction of the local or regional board of education which employs the actor," regardless if the suspect was actually their teacher.
“But 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,” she told the Tuscaloosa News.
"It's just way too broad and it treats school employees differently without basis," she said. "Now if there's a situation where a school employee has coerced a student into a sexual act or exploited a student, that's one thing. But this current statute presumes this happens every time a school employee has sex with a student."
Buck cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which said consenting adults have the right to privacy in matters involving consensual sexual intimacy, the Birmingham News reported. That case struck down the state’s laws prohibiting consenting adults from engaging in homosexual sex.
Parker and her husband, James “Jamie” Franklin Parker III, were both arrested in March of 2016.
They were both teachers at Pickens Academy, where she taught elementary computer classes, physical education, and coached the girls’ basketball team. Her husband taught math, coached boys’ basketball, and was the student government association sponsor, according to the Tuscaloosa News.
Charli Parker was accused of having multiple sexual encounters with two different 16-year-old male students.
Her husband was charged with having sexual contact multiple times with a former female student, and also pleaded guilty. His sentencing was scheduled for June.
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