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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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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