The Arizona Supreme Court has handed down a shocking decision that calls for criminalization of any contact between an adult and a child’s genitals.
The decision, however, does not state whether the contact needs to be sexually motivated. As a result, any contact that takes place during changing of a toddler’s diaper or bathing a baby can be criminalized.
As reported by Slate, those found guilty can be sentenced to an imprisonment of five years.
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Child molestation Arizona law:
The decision stems from the case of an Arizona man who was convicted of sexually molesting his step granddaughter. The man’s conviction was upheld, and the reason given by the court has many wondering whether an act like that of changing the diaper of a child is considered sexual assault.
“The statute says intentionally or knowingly having sexual contact,” legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said. “Well, sexual contact is just the direct or indirect touching of the genitals of something else of the child. That is where the changing of the diaper could come into play.”
The majority in the ruling of the man’s conviction wrote, “Prosecutors are unlikely to charge parents, physicians and the like when the evidence demonstrates the presence of an affirmative defense.”
The dissenting justices, however, said that while no prosecutor will bring a case of a parent changing their baby’s diaper or changing their swimsuit, “there is always a possibility that it could be abused,” as reported by FOX 10.
‘Constitutional vagueness’ can cause confusion
“Parents and other caregivers who have changed an infant’s soiled diaper or bathe a toddler will be surprised to learn that they have committed a Class 2 or 3 felony,” the dissenting justices said.
According to 12 News, “constitutional vagueness” was cited as part of the dissent in the ruling of the man’s conviction. This vagueness, as noted by Arizona University Professor Paul Bender, can cause confusion.
“There also could be a case where it’s not clear whether there was a sexual intent or not,” Bender said. “And under this decision, when it’s not clear, the defendant would be guilty, and that’s wrong.”