MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate unanimously passed a bill by State Rep. Leigh Hulsey (R-Helena) on Thursday that would make it a felony for church clergy to have sexual interactions with someone under 19 years old.

The House passed the measure on February 20. It now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey for her consideration.

The bill defines clergy as a duly ordained, licensed or commissioned minister, pastor, priest, rabbi, or practitioner of any bona fide established church or religious organization or any person who regularly, as a vocation, devotes a substantial portion of his or her time and abilities to the service of his or her church or religious organization.

The bill makes it a felony for a clergy member to engage in sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child. Under the bill,  a child is defined as a person under 19 or someone with a developmental disability under 22 

The bill also makes it a felony for a clergy member to solicit, persuade, encourage, harass, or entice a child to engage in a sex act, including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse, sodomy, or sexual contact.

Consent is not a defense to the charges in the bill. The legal age of consent in Alabama is 16.

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