A former Alabama teacher and cheerleading coach who previously argued that a state law barring school staff from having sex with students younger than 19 was unconstitutional has now admitted her guilt.
Carrie Witt, 47, on Monday entered a plea of guilty to one count of school employee engaging in a sex act with a student.
In exchange for her plea, Morgan County prosecutors agreed to drop a second charge against Witt, who was initially accused of having sex with two boys, ages 17 and 18.
‘We’re glad that it’s resolved, that it’s done,’ Morgan County Assistant District Attorney Courtney Schellack told Decatur Daily. ‘It’s been a long process and we’re just glad it’s done for the community and the victims in the case.’
She faces up to 20 years in state prison and will be required to register as a sex offender when she is sentenced on July 1.
Witt taught history, psychology and social studies, as well as coaching the varsity girls’ golf team and and junior varsity cheerleading at Decatur High School, when in March 2016 she was charged with having sexual contact with two students, who were 17 and 18, respectively, at the time of the encounters.
In 2017, a judge dismissed the charges against Witt after her lawyers successfully argued that a 2010 law, that made it a felony for a school employee to have sex with a student under 19 years old, was unconstitutional.
Witt claimed that she was in a consensual relationship with the students, and that she was only prosecuted for being a school employee, which violated her 14th Amendment right to privacy and equal protection.
Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson said the court found the statute ‘unconstitutional’ and that there was no proof Witt used her position of authority to force the two students to have sex.
The judge noted that Alabama state law allows students to legally have sex at age 16, as long as someone doesn’t use their position of authority to obtain that consent.
Prosecutors filed an appeal and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the ruling and reinstated the charges against Witt.
She was put on administrative leave with pay by Decatur High School and resigned in April 2018.