Moulton, AL – An Alabama jury acquitted a middle school teacher who had sex with a former student when he was a senior at Moulton High School.
Taylor Boyles, now 30, was fired from her teaching position and arrested in 2017 after she was accused of having sex with an 18-year-old former student, WAAY reported.
Boyles admitted in a videotaped interview with investigators that she had engaged in sexual relations with the student, who was legally an adult at the time.
But although the age of consent for sex is 16 in Alabama, there is a teacher-specific statute that says that a student must be 19 or older to consent to sex with a school employee, WAFF reported.
At trial, Boyles’ former student testified that he had sex with his teacher twice while he was a senior at Moulton High School, WAAY reported.
Jurors also viewed Boyles’ videotaped confession.
Her defense attorney, Mark Dutton, told the jury that Boyles was confused and under stress when she made the statements police recorded on video, according to the Associated Press.
The former teacher, who was facing up to 25 years in prison and $30,000 in fines, did not testify in her own defense at trial.
Her attorney claimed that the state law Boyles was charged under wasn’t constitutional and argued that if an 18-year-old can vote and join the military, they shouldn’t be prohibited from having sex with anyone, including a teacher, the Associated Press reported.
He also argued that prosecutors hadn’t provided enough witnesses or evidence to support their case.
“And the state didn’t prove that [Boyles] knowingly engaged in sex with the student,” Dutton told the jury in his closing argument. “Was she awake? Was she cognitive? There was no physical evidence presented in this case.”
Prosecutors asked the jury to follow the law and convict Boyles, the Associated Press reported.
“The statute is clear,” Lawrence County District Attorney Errek Jett said. “While she was a teacher and [the youth] was a student, they had sex. They had sex two times… Our Legislature passed a law and we are bound to follow it.”
The jury deliberated for about an hour before returning with a “not guilty” verdict, WAAY reported.
Jury foreman Samuel Kerby said that the state failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, according to the Associated Press.
Legal expert Mark McDaniel told WAFF that many attorneys have argued that it was unconstitutional to have a separate statute that only applied to teachers.
McDaniel said he believed a future case charged under the law will be challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.