The Alabama Senate candidate was the lone dissenting vote on an 8-1 ruling that made it easier to prosecute child-sex cases in 2015.
Alabama Senate candidate and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is casting himself as a tough-on-crime ‘Trump Republican,’ focused on law and order. But a 2015 case raises serious questions about that image.
Moore was the lone dissenting vote on a case that would have made it easier to prosecute child-sex cases. The Associated Press reported on the case the time:
“A decision by the Alabama Supreme Court could make it easier to prosecute child-sex cases.”
“The court on Friday overturned a lower court’s ruling that threw out the sodomy conviction of a teen accused of abusing a young child at a day care in Jefferson County.”
“Criminal Appeals judges previously reversed Eric Lemont Higdon’s first-degree sodomy conviction, ruling prosecutors didn’t prove he used force.”
“But the justices ruled 8-1 that prosecutors don’t have to prove the use of force since the Higdon had authority over the child. They say the case should be considered from the child’s perspective, not the adult’s.”
Alabama Today wrote that: “Eric Lemont Higdon was sentenced in March 2014 to 23 years in prison for his convictions on one count of first-degree sodomy of a child less than 12 and one count of first-degree sodomy by forcible compulsion.”
Higdon’s legal team appealed the initial ruling, and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals “reversed Higdon’s conviction of sodomy by forcible compulsion. That court held that the state had not proven forcible compulsion.”
However, the Alabama Supreme Court disagreed, in an 8-1 ruling:
“An “implied threat” can’t be simply based on the age of the offender, but must be taken from the child victim’s perspective on whether the believed they had to go along. Factors to consider include the difference in the age between the offender and victim, physical maturity, the offender’s conduct, and whether the older juvenile had authority or control over the victim such as with a teen counselor or babysitter.”
Alabama Today reported on Moore’s reasoning behind his lone dissent vote:
“[Moore] argued that it’s the Alabama Legislature’s duty – not the court’s – to change the rules. He said “this court has no ‘right’ or ‘authority’ to make a ‘new’ law to govern conduct between minors the legislature obviously chose not to address.”
While this 2015 case has not been in the spotlight during the Alabama Senate race, the insights it provides raise questions about Moore’s law and order bona fides.
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