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Statutory Rape Laws

Jambalaya

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My friend's daughter had a relationship with a man from her local theater group. The age of consent in my state is 16. They had a relationship that started when she was 14.5 and he was 30. She ended it when she was 16 because she found someone else closer to her own age. (She's now 30 herself.) Five years after the relationship ended, someone told the police, and he was arrested. He got six years in jail - and the reason it was a light sentence is that the relationship was fully consensual. They saw each other three times a week for almost two years. The trial was in all the papers round here and it was a big scandal.

A 30-year-old man with someone who's 14 is pretty gross to me. However, she was in a relationship that she wanted to be in, and many people who are 14 are having sex these days. It just seems odd that someone can go to jail for having a consensual relationship with someone aged14-16. It makes me wonder if an exception should be made for people age 14-plus who insist that the relationship was consensual.

Some states have a major-minor law, where the law recognizes the difference between a child and someone who's nearing the age of maturity. It seems that adding a similar provision would help free up the courts to concentrate on more serious crimes. Statutory rape laws could kick in automatically under age 14 even if the victim claims consent, or at any age under the consent age if they feel they were coerced. But it seemed harsh to me that he got six years in jail for a relationship in which the girl insisted she was an enthusiastic participant, and in which she was 14-16, an age at which many teenagers are having sex.

What do you think?
 

Jambalaya

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ETA: In states with an age of consent that's 18, it seems crazy to prosecute a 21-year-old for having a relationship with someone who's 17.
 

tyty333

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It is up to the 30 year old ADULT to say No, this is not a good choice. He paid the price for making a bad decision.
Should it be changed? IMO, no.

I do agree that there should be special rules/laws/considerations for a 21 year old dating a 17 year old (for example).
 
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Mreader

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To me it’s really creepy that a 30-year-old would date 14-year-old. Like wtf. And what was going on with the 14-year-old’s parents? I do agree that there are gray areas when the age gap is not as large.
 

Austina

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16 is the age of consent here too, and I wouldn’t be happy if I had a 14 year old daughter having a sexual relationship with a 30 year old man. I’m sure she thought she was in love with him, but it’s totally inappropriate for a man to have a relationship with a child, no matter how mature she may appear to be.
 

Ionysis

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The hint is in the wording “age of consent”. It’s not possible for a CHILD to consent to sex. If the person is under 16 they, by law, are incapable of consenting to sexual activity. And a 30 year old that has sex with a 14 year old is sick in the head, in my personal opinion, as a mother of two tweens.
 

Spring Day

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It is up to the 30 year old ADULT to say No, this is not a good choice. He paid the price for making a bad decision.
Should it be changed? IMO, no.

I do agree that there should be special rules/laws/considerations for a 21 year old dating a 17 year old (for example).

I wholeheartedly agree. A 14 year old may think he or she is in love and may believe they are giving consent. But as an adult that is 30 years old and 16 years the senior, they should be making the right choice which is to abstain from having sexual relations with a child.

But, I do think that things get a bit murky when it comes to a 21 year old having a relationship with a 17 year old.
 
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chemgirl

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Age of consent here was changed from 14 to 16 partially due to grooming. It’s fairly easy for an adult to manipulate a child into a “consensual” sexual relationship.

With compliments, attention and/or gifts adults can groom children into believing that they are in a loving relationship. Adults often seek out children with fewer positive adult role models because they can create emotional dependency.

It’s abuse. It’s predatory.
 

wildcat03

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Yeah, so no. There's a huge difference between a 16 year-old and an 18 or even 19 year-old and a 14 year-old and a 30 year-old. With that age and maturity disparity, I'm not convinced that there is even the possibility of an emotionally healthy, non-predatory relationship.
 

Gussie

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I would pull out all the stops if my 14 yo daughter was in a relationship with a 30 yo. The police would definitely be involved which would be much better for the creep than my husband handling it.
 

Jambalaya

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Like I wrote above, I thought a man having sex with a girl that age is pretty gross.
 

Jambalaya

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And what was going on with the 14-year-old’s parents?

They had no idea until someone reported him to the police years later. She told them her contraceptive pill was for her acne.
 

marymm

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The hint is in the wording “age of consent”. It’s not possible for a CHILD to consent to sex. If the person is under 16 they, by law, are incapable of consenting to sexual activity. And a 30 year old that has sex with a 14 year old is sick in the head, in my personal opinion, as a mother of two tweens.

I am not a mother but I otherwise I agree 100% with @Ionysis's post.

I would add, just because people (children) are having sex at 14 doesn't make it right or okay, and just because a child appears/acts mature for his/her age doesn't mean he/she is actually mature. In my view, adults who take advantage of a child's naivete and precociousness are actually predators.
 

Jambalaya

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I think that a man of 32 having sex with a 16-year-old girl is pretty gross, too. Maybe in states where the age of consent is 16, there should be an exception where the man is X number of years older. As in, 16-year-olds can have sex with people who are no older than 25, but if the partner is older than 25, the age of consent goes up to 18.
 

yssie

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A thirty year old individual who feels that having a sexual relationship with a fourteen year old is a healthy or reasonable choice is either a predator or mentally incapacitated. Either way - six years away from the general public isn’t nearly enough, and shame on anyone who knew and didn’t take it to law enforcement immediately :sick:
 

Cerulean

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The hint is in the wording “age of consent”. It’s not possible for a CHILD to consent to sex. If the person is under 16 they, by law, are incapable of consenting to sexual activity. And a 30 year old that has sex with a 14 year old is sick in the head, in my personal opinion, as a mother of two tweens.

Exactly ^^^^^

There is no such thing as a consensual relationship with a minor because they do not have the brain development necessary to make decisions around engaging in sexual behavior.

You might say that the 14 year old child cooperated, but she certainly didn't give informed consent because she's incapable of doing so. There is also no state with an age of consent below 16 – thankfully, many states are older.

It's not like teens in Indiana (16yrs age of consent) are miraculously more mature than teens in Illinois (where age of consent is 18 ). I'd gather that legislators care more or less state to state about the mountains of empirical evidence on adolescent brain development that these laws should be based off of unequivocally.

Whether the 30yr old man was even seduced by the 14yr old girl – irrelevant. She is a victim by default.

Read Lolita. It's a play on the paradox that a 30yr old man who engages sexually with a minor (12yrs old) could somehow be a "decent guy"....but no, the narrative doesn't ask the reader to be "more open minded" about an unconventional love story – it asks you to see Lolita as the victim she really is, and the charming older man as the predator that he really is who abuses his power and maturity. It's a disturbing book and it's meant to be...
 

Jambalaya

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I wouldn’t be happy if I had a 14 year old daughter having a sexual relationship with a 30 year old man.

Me neither. I would want to absolutely kill him. (I wouldn't, of course.) But many, many 14-year-olds are having sex these days and are happy with that choice. I'm not sure we should be legislating the sex lives of people who are 14 and 15. It's really close to the age of consent, and they're doing it anyway.
 

Jambalaya

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Hm. It seems that in California, people who have sex with persons age 14-17 and are no more than ten years older than them are not automatically placed on the sex offender list. So in CA, I'm guessing the man's overall punishment would have been much less.

Just Googled the issue and it seems there is much debate about these laws. Someone pointed out that if a seventeen-year-old boy rapes an adult woman, she can be prosecuted for statutory rape, unless she can prove beyond reasonable doubt that SHE was the one who was raped.

These laws are complex.
 

Cerulean

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Me neither. I would want to absolutely kill him. (I wouldn't, of course.) But many, many 14-year-olds are having sex these days and are happy with that choice. I'm not sure we should be legislating the sex lives of people who are 14 and 15. It's really close to the age of consent, and they're doing it anyway.

Don't you see the hypocrisy in your statements? You'd have fantasies of violence against a perp if it were your kid, but somehow it's okay if it's other people's kids?

You don't "round up" for age of consent laws just because the age is "close enough" - those are critical years of development where the brain matures at staggering rates.

These laws are meant to protect children, not police adults who are practicing consent in their own bedrooms. This isn't an infringement on freedom. It's about keeping minors safe from predators.
 

Gussie

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So if 14 or 15 is really close to the age of consent, then we shouldn't worry about it? What about drinking, driving, voting, joining the military, etc.? There has to be a line in the sand.

Personally I think it should be 18. DH thinks it should be 30. (Joking about DH but I suspect a lot of dads would like it to be 30!)
 

Jambalaya

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14 and 30 definitely not. Something wrong with that man.

Well, that's what I thought, too. But she's 30 now and says she was happy in the relationship. Maybe she was a mature teen and he was an immature man? Who knows?
 

chemgirl

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Me neither. I would want to absolutely kill him. (I wouldn't, of course.) But many, many 14-year-olds are having sex these days and are happy with that choice. I'm not sure we should be legislating the sex lives of people who are 14 and 15. It's really close to the age of consent, and they're doing it anyway.

If two 14 year olds are having sex so be it. They are equals.

There’s a power differential between an adult and a child. There’s no way an adult can have sex with a child and have it be anything but abuse.
 

marymm

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Me neither. I would want to absolutely kill him. (I wouldn't, of course.) But many, many 14-year-olds are having sex these days and are happy with that choice. I'm not sure we should be legislating the sex lives of people who are 14 and 15. It's really close to the age of consent, and they're doing it anyway.
In fact, statutory rape laws are legislating against those who take advantage of children.

It sounds like you think if 14 year olds are having sex, then ipso facto they must be capable of informed consent ... neuroscience/psychology/sociology all heavily contradict such an opinion.
 

autumngems

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Well, that's what I thought, too. But she's 30 now and says she was happy in the relationship. Maybe she was a mature teen and he was an immature man? Who knows?
She may have been happy but at that age I do not think kids are mentally and physically mature enough for that type of relationship, even though many are doing it already.
 

Jambalaya

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Don't you see the hypocrisy in your statements? You'd have fantasies of violence against a perp if it were your kid, but somehow it's okay if it's other people's kids?

I don't think the relationship is OK. As I wrote at the beginning, I said it was "pretty gross." My point is, whether we think it's OK or not, I'm unsure whether we should send people to prison for years IF the younger party does not feel victimized and says, even now as a woman of 30, that she was happy about in the relationship.

My private feelings about such a relationship and the subject of what's fair/right judicially are two separate things. I think it's gross and I would be absolutely appalled if it was my daughter. Actually, in addition to the six years in jail, he had to wear an ankle bracelet for the following five, register as a lifelong sex offender, and can never work with young people. So yeah, his life was completely ruined.

My question is, is that fair for a relationship in which the girl was happy and still says that she was, 15 years on?
 

Cerulean

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Well, that's what I thought, too. But she's 30 now and says she was happy in the relationship. Maybe she was a mature teen and he was an immature man? Who knows?

You don't create rules around exceptions.

Best case scenario - she did not suffer psychologically because of what happened. But I also doubt you can also speak to how this impacted her in a meaningful way, or attest to his behavior for that matter.

What if the next 14 yr old he "dated" was actually traumatized? What about her? What if went even younger in the next relationship, or before her? It was okay at 14...why not 12? What if she is a really, really mature 12yr old?

And given his age and her age, what if he watched pornography with minors? What laws are supposed to protect them, just because she "was happy in the relationship?" Are they happy and in love with their sexual partners? Are they consenting?
 

Mreader

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Me neither. I would want to absolutely kill him. (I wouldn't, of course.) But many, many 14-year-olds are having sex these days and are happy with that choice. I'm not sure we should be legislating the sex lives of people who are 14 and 15. It's really close to the age of consent, and they're doing it anyway.

Presumably sexually active 14 and 15-year-olds are having relationships with other 14 and 15-year-olds. This situation is really different.
 

Jambalaya

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It sounds like you believe if 14 year olds are having sex, then ipso facto they must be capable of informed consent ...

Exactly; this is the confusing part for me. She was happy at the time and is still happy with that decision 15 years on. In court, she stated that when she broke up with him at age 16, he cried and said he loved her. I don't get it, either. Gross all round. My point is, should we treat someone as a victim who insists they were not victimized?
 
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