A former Alabama high school teacher who had sex with two 16-year-old students is arguing that a state law prohibiting sex between school employees and students under 19 no matter what school system they attend is unconstitutional, the Tuscaloosa News reported.
Charli Jones Parker, 31, pleaded guilty in August to having sex with students under 19, the paper said, adding that she's serving a three-year prison sentence and is expected to be released in September 2020. Parker is appealing her conviction, the News said.
A circuit court judge ruled in August that the law is unconstitutional, the News reported, adding that while the state appealed the judge’s ruling, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals hasn't issued a decision.
Parker’s attorney argued that the law violates the equal protection clause as it treats school employees differently than other occupations and criminalizes private, consensual sexual relationships, the paper said.
“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,” Parker’s appellate attorney Virginia Buck told the News.
In a Tuesday brief, Buck spelled out a hypothetical situation in which a 21-year-old school janitor heads to the Gulf Shores for spring break and has sex with an 18-year-old high school student — and that under the law he's guilty of a Class B felony, the paper said.
“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,” Buck told the News, adding that the law didn’t apply to private school employees until 2016.
The mission of Pickens Academy, where Parker taught, "is to provide a quality education in a well-disciplined, Christian environment."
More from the paper:
Parker and her husband, both Pickens Academy teachers at the time, were arrested in March 2016. Charli Parker was accused of having sexual contact with a 16-year-old male student 13 times between October 2014 and a few days before her arrest. She was charged with engaging in sex with another 16-year-old student at his home the following June, for encounters that allegedly occurred before the incidents involving the other victim.
Her husband, James “Jamie” Franklin Parker III, 33, was accused of having sexual contact with a former female student six times between December 2014 and May 2015. He pleaded guilty, and has a sentencing date set for June.
She taught elementary computer classes, physical education and was the head coach for the girls basketball team. Her husband taught math, was the boys head basketball coach and the student government association sponsor.