In State v. Julianne Graham, 2016 VT 48 (April 29, 2016), the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s dismissal of three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
Issue: Julianne Graham was employed by Chittenden South Supervisory Union for three years at Champlain Valley Union High School. In May 2014, she was told that her position had been eliminated for the following year, but was later told that she would be able to return to work at CVU for the 2014-2015 school year. She was not given a summer position, and was not employed by CSSU in the summer of 2014. In February 2015, the state filed charges against Graham, alleging that, in the summer of 2014, she had engaged in sexual acts with a minor while in a position of supervision over him in violation of 13 V.S.A. §3258(a).
Holding: The Court affirmed the superior court’s dismissal of the charges against Graham, finding first that Graham was not employed by CSSU during the summer of 2014, and as such, had no supervisory role with regard to CVU students during the time period in question. The Court also found that the statute at issue should be read in the present tense – the Legislature intended for there to be criminal liability only when the actor was in a position of supervision and undertaking the responsibilities that come with being in a position of supervision. Because Graham was not employed by CSSU or working at CVU during the summer of 2014, the restrictions in the statute do not apply to her, and the superior court was correct in dismissing the charges.