The Arizona Supreme Court has handed down a decision that has a lot of people talking. It involves the case of an Arizona man who appealed his conviction of sexually molesting his step-daughter.
They upheld his conviction, but their reason for doing so has some speculating that even changing a baby's diaper could constitute a sex crime.
The justices examined the language in Arizona's sexual abuse laws, which do not require sexual intent in order to be charged.
"The statute says intentionally or knowingly having sexual contact. 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," said legal analyst Monica Lindstrom.
In the ruling, the majority wrote, "Prosecutors are unlikely to charge parents, physicians and the like when the evidence demonstrates the presence of an affirmative defense."
However the dissenting justices say, "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."
"No sane, reasonable prosecutor is going to bring a case against parents or a guardian for changing their baby's diaper of helping them change their swimsuit," said Lindstrom. "But what the dissent is saying is that there is always the possibility that it could be abused."
The three justices in the majority also point out that, while sexual abuse laws may be somewhat broad, they are not written much differently than other laws and changing the language of the law is the job of the legislature not the court's.