A really bad law in Arizona, one that actually had the potential for the parents of an infant to be charged with sexual assault while changing his diaper, has been overturned. The law was written so that no sexual intent or motivation was required. According to the Arizona Republic, “The statute defines sexual contact as ‘any direct or indirect touching, fondling or manipulating’ of a child’s genitals or private parts. But there is no additional clause requiring that the touching coincide with intent to harm, violate, or arouse.”
Stephen’s parents are NARSOL members and our contacts in Arizona. He had been a schoolteacher and swim coach and in 2007 was convicted of a sexual molestation charge. Stephen denied there was any sexual intent on his part and appealed his case to the state court.
Judge Neil Wake of the U.S. District Court declared the statute to be unconstitutional on March 28 and ordered Stephen’s release. The state has appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The statute was written so that charges could conceivably be brought against “…doctors examining children, parents or caregivers wiping children after they go to the bathroom, or tending them in other hygienic or instructional ways…”
Eric Dubno of Fahringer & Dubno, NYC, was the lead attorney for the team that handled Stephen’s habeas petition.
NARSOL commends Judge Wake for this decision and celebrates with Stephen and his family. We will keep you apprised of the progress of the appeal.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.