A jury indicted an Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) employee on child abuse charges on June 30. Marty Decole “Cole” Wagner, of Montgomery County, was accused of intimate contact with a child under 12 – a class B felony in Alabama with a potential 20-year prison term.
A spokesperson for ALSDE said, “While he was employed by our department for only a few months, Mr. Wagner has been terminated effective immediately. No further information is available at this time as the investigation is ongoing.”
The alleged child abuser was once the chairman of the Alliance for a Pro-Life Alabama, an organization that campaigns for a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion. As part of this role, he has worked alongside Republican lawmakers in joint efforts to raise funds and support for the pro-life organization, according to the Alabama Reporter.
On his LinkedIn page, Wagner states that he worked in the Department of Education from February to July 2023, and he was previously employed with the Alabama lieutenant governor’s office. He also worked at Cygnal, a polling company. He posted a photo with Eric Mackey, the Alabama state superintendent, to announce his new job at the education department.
His LinkedIn page also states that he is currently available for work. He was released from jail on a $60,000 bond.
The criminal punishment for child abuse in Alabama came up for intense debate in 2019 when Governor Kay Ivey signed legislation to chemically castrate offenders. The law requires that convicted child abusers begin taking chemical castration drugs a month before release from prison. After release, if the offender stops taking the drugs, which block the production of testosterone and other hormones, it will amount to a parole violation and the prisoner will return to jail.
During the legislative debate, the American Civil Liberties Union said chemical castration amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment” and was, therefore, unconstitutional. Randall Marshall, director of ACLU Alabama, said, “It is a return to the dark ages.”