Parents were outraged after a law passed in Arizona made it so any contact between an adult and a child's genitals, including giving your own child a bath or changing their diaper, would be considered criminal.
A law intended to help protect children from child molesters left parents distressed and outraged after the specifics of the law, which stated that diaper changing would be considered an offense, were revealed, according to Mad World News.
Following the initial controversy, the Arizona State court continued to back the law, stating that "prosecutors are unlikely to charge parents engaged in innocent conduct."
The law stated that an individual is guilty of child molestation if he or she "intentionally or knowingly ... touches ... any part of the genitals, anus, or female breast," of a child "under fifteen years of age." It did not require that the "touching" be sexual.
The court then ruled that defendants would need to prove their "lack of sexual intent" in such cases.
John Pfaff, a law professor at Fordham University, discussed the potential negative implications of the Arizona law.
"The majority’s logic has one final defect: It utterly ignores the reality of plea bargaining, which is how more than 90 percent of criminal cases in America are resolved," Pfaff said. "Given the immense expense and hassle of a trial, many defendants are pressured into striking a deal with a prosecutor, trading a lighter sentence for an admission of guilt. Arizona prosecutors can now dangle the threat of a probable child molestation conviction to coerce any parent of a young child into taking a plea deal on unrelated charges. With the state Supreme Court’s help, Arizona’s child molestation laws have been weaponized into a tool for prosecutorial harassment, allowing the state to target any parent or caregiver -- out of spite or malice, or simply to boost their conviction rates."
He continued: "This terrible decision has gutted constitutional rights and turned many of the state’s residents into unknowing criminals. Barring intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, due process has now been suspended for Arizona’s parents and caregivers."
After several months of the law being in effect, a federal judge ruled that the law is unconstitutional, reports Slate.
U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake said the government is responsible for proving each element of a crime beyond reasonable doubt. He said the law shifted that responsibility to the defendant, forcing him or her to disprove "the very thing that makes child molestation child molestation."
Because of this, Wake said that the law "violates the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantees of due process and of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."