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Teacher’s suggestive messages to student were ‘immoral’ but not a crime, COA rules

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Although the Indiana Court of Appeals found a high school teacher’s behavior toward a 16-year-old female student to be “deplorable and immoral,” it overturned his convictions because his actions were not criminal under statute.

The Court of Appeals reversed the denial of Robert Corbin’s motion to dismiss the two counts of attempted child seduction filed against him. It also remanded with instructions to grant the motion.

“The behavior alleged in the charging information is deplorable and immoral, and our decision today should not be read in any way to condone Corbin’s conduct,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote for the court in Robert Corbin v. State of Indiana, 75A03-1209-CR-402. “Yet, we are bound to narrowly construe criminal statutes in order to protect the constitutional rights of all our citizens. “

Corbin was charged after the student’s family members discovered explicit messages he sent to her Facebook account. The first count was for the messages he sent to her asking that she sexually satisfy him and sneak out of her house so he could come and pick her up. The second count was for the messages asking her that she send him explicit photographs.

On appeal, Corbin claimed the evidence was insufficient to support the charges.

The Court of Appeals examined Indiana Code 35-42-4-7 and pointed out that attempted child seduction requires the individual to engage in conduct that “constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of the crime.”

Noting that determining what comprises a “substantial step” is difficult, the Court of Appeals turned to Ward v. State, 528 N.E.2d 52, 55 (Ind. 1988). This case outlined a two-part test to apply when considering whether a solicitation constitutes an attempt.

Consequently, the Court of Appeals found Corbin’s requests were not solicitations under Ward because he was not in a position to immediately commit the crime. He sent the messages over the Internet and never acted upon them.

In regards to the charges in count two, the COA ruled that even though Corbin’s request for photographs was “extremely disturbing and morally reprehensible,” it was not criminal conduct as defined by the “plain language” of the statute.  

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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