Former Dothan officer has parole hearing set on sex charge amid questions about conviction

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Montgomery (WTVY)- A former Dothan police officer would be released from prison early next year if approved for parole. A hearing for Lanice Bonds is set January 24 in Montgomery.

Bonds is serving a 10-year sentence for having sex with a student in violation of an Alabama law that may be unconstitutional.

In 2013, Bonds, 37, was a police officer assigned to Dothan High School as a resource officer. He had sex with a 17-year old female student and was arrested for violating the recently enacted School Employee Sex Law. The legislative act makes it illegal for a school employee to have sex with a student under the age of 19.

Bonds’ attorney, Cada Carter, believes Bonds did not violate the law since he was an employee of the police department and not the school system. However, facing a 20-year sentence if convicted, Bonds pleaded guilty in 2014 and received the 10-year prison term.

Carter is not alone in his belief lawmakers passed a poorly written bill. A Morgan County Circuit judge ruled earlier this year the School Employee Sex Law is too broad and threw out charges against two former North Alabama educators.

Judge Glenn Thompson said prosecutors must prove the teacher used a "position of authority" to "coerce, groom, or otherwise obtain the illegitimate consent of the alleged victims." The state, on appeal, is challenging the ruling.

Rep. Paul Lee (R-Dothan) as a freshman legislator voted for the law. Following Thompson’s ruling, he predicted a revised, sturdier bill will be passed if the current one is ultimately deemed unconstitutional.

“When you send your child to school it should be a safe haven for them. Those teachers are there to steer (students) in the right direction. I expect them to steer them away from that (behavior) and not be a part of it,” Lee said.

Bonds, who must register as a sex offender, would almost certainly be released before the appeal receives a final ruling assuming the Board of Pardons and Paroles votes for his release in January.

Dependent on that ruling, though, Bonds conviction could be overturned.