YUMA, Ariz. – A major concern for parents is the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision that, according to the law, touching their child’s genitals or private parts as part of a normal diaper change could be considered molestation.
The ruling made last week, on September 13, states the law does not include a clause requiring that the touching coincide with an intent to harm, violate, or arouse.
The state law defines child molestation as intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual contact with a child under age 15. Sexual contact is defined as any direct or indirect touching, fondling or manipulating of a child’s genitals or private parts.
The Arizona Supreme Court’s decision was split 3-2.
The justices said prosecutors would be “unlikely to charge parents, physicians, and the like.” However, the two dissenting judges said that Arizona is the only state to make its molestation laws so broad.
The case that ignited the debate involves a man who was accused of inappropriately touching and kissing his 11-year-old step grand-daughter. In his appeals he said the state should have to prove sexual motivation instead of him having to disprove it.
The Arizona Supreme Court ruling, however, upheld the man’s conviction. The man was sentenced to a 10-year prison term for molestation followed by a 5-year term of probation for sexual abuse.