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Pruitt v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

April 27, 2018

Ashley Parkins Pruitt
v.
State of Alabama

          Appeal from Blount Circuit Court (CC-15-38)

          KELLUM, JUDGE.

         Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, the appellant, Ashley Parkins Pruitt, a school employee, pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19 years, a violation of § 13A-6-81, Ala. Code 1975, and two counts of distribution of obscene material to a minor, a violation of § 13A-12-200.5, Ala. Code 1975. The circuit court sentenced Pruitt to 15 years' imprisonment for each conviction for engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19 years; those sentences were split, and Pruitt was ordered to serve 1 year in jail and 2 years on house arrest followed by 3 years' supervised probation. For her convictions for distributing obscene material to a minor, the circuit court sentenced Pruitt to one year in jail; those sentences were split and Pruitt was ordered to serve six months in jail followed by three years' supervised probation. The court ordered that all four sentences were to run concurrently. The court further ordered Pruitt to pay $2, 500 in fines, $250 to the crime victims compensation fund, and court costs.

         During the guilty plea, the parties submitted an exhibit to the plea agreement in which they stipulated to the following facts:

"Ashley Pruitt (hereinafter 'AP') was employed with the Blount County Board of Education at various times as a teacher and coach from 2008 to 2015.
"At all times relevant to this case, AP resided in the Locust Fork community.
"AP was hired as a teacher and coach at Locust Fork High School, where she taught during the school years of 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. The school year runs from August through May.
"At all time pertinent to this case, Victim #1, Victim #2, and Victim #3 were between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years old, student athletes, and enrolled as students at Locust Fork High School. All victims were in AP's classes, at some point, at Locust Fork High School during the school years of 2012-13 and/or 2013-14.
"In August 2014, the Blount County Board of Education hired AP to teach and coach at Appalachian High School where she remained employed as a teacher and coach until January 2015.
"Locust Fork High School and Appalachian High School are located in Blount County, Alabama, and are a part of the Blount County School System. Locust Fork High School and Appalachian High School are about 20 miles apart. There are a total of seven high schools in Blount County. Six of those seven high schools are a part of the Blount County School System.
"In October 2014, AP knowingly sent Victim #1, who was 16 at the time, a nude photograph of her breasts and a nude photograph of her vagina via Snapchat [social-media platform] using an electronic device while in Blount County. Victim #1 claims the photos did not 'harm' him. As to Victim #1, the State would assert that harm is determined by the trier of fact based on community standards. Per the statute, the term 'harmful to minors' is defined as
"a. The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find the material, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest of minors; and
"b. The material depicts or describes sexual conduct, breast nudity or genital nudity, in a way which is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable to minors; and
"c. A reasonable person would find that the material, taken as a whole, lacks serious literacy, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.
"In October 2014, AP engaged in deviant sexual intercourse with Victim #2, who was 16 at the time, in Blount County, Alabama.
"In September 2014, AP engaged in sexual intercourse with Victim #3, who was 18 at the time, in Blount County, Alabama.
"All acts between AP and the victims were consensual. However, it is the State's argument that under [§]13A-6-81, [Ala. Code 1975, ] consent is not a defense to the crimes charged."

(C. 44-45.)

         Before entering her plea, Pruitt filed a motion to dismiss the charges pending against her on the basis that the statutes under which she pleaded guilty were unconstitutional as applied to her. At the time she entered her guilty plea, Pruitt filed a renewed motion to dismiss all five counts against her in which she reasserted her constitutional challenge and during her ...


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