Arizona's Diaper Changing Child Molestation Law Ruled Unconstitutional

By George Khoury, Esq. on April 07, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal district court judge in Arizona has ruled that the state's relatively new no-intent-required child molestation law is unconstitutional.

Although the US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a man convicted under that new law, the federal district court in Arizona reversed the state's supreme court's upholding of the law.

Diaper Duty

The now defunct law provided that a caregiver, parent, or anyone, could be found guilty of child molestation if they touched a child's genitals, anus, or female breasts, knowingly or intentionally. A defendant could plead as an affirmative defense that there was no sexual intent, but to avoid being convicted, a defendant had to prove the lack of sexual intent, while the state was not required to show that there was a sexual intent at all behind the touching.

These burdens of proof were found to violate a defendants constitutional rights, as it is fundamental in the US justice system that for a defendant to be found guilty, the prosecution must prove every element of the crime. Not having sexual intent proven by the state in a case of child molestation seemed to be, and the court recognized it as such, a logical failure.

How to Legally Clean After Diaper Changing?

For those with experience changing a diaper, a thorough clean up job would require breaking this law. You can't just hand an infant a stack of wet-ones and tell 'em to clean themselves off. And failing to clean all the nooks can result in hygiene and health issues, which could result in other legal problems. However, the new law criminalized any knowing or intentional touching of an infant's genitals or anus, unless a defendant proved it was non-sexual. No other state, except Hawaii, allows molestation charges to be brought without proof of a sexual intent.

While the federal district court case in Arizona reversed one conviction rendered under this poorly drafted law, it is speculated that there are several convictions that were handed down against parents engaged in completely innocent behavior, such as bathing, or changing the diaper of, their own child.

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