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Statutory Rape Laws

Roselina

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As a current law student who is passionate about criminal law, I hope my response sheds some light on statutory rape law. Statutory rape is a strict liability offense. Strict liability means that the intent aspect is irrelevant. As such, any question of a consent is out of the picture. Whether a minor is "consenting" or "willing" to participate in a sexual encounter is out of scope. And that is by design. Strict liability offenses are designed to make it easier to prosecute in otherwise complicated areas of law. Because an essential element of rape is consent, and a minor is not legally able to distinguishing between "knowing" and "appreciating", a minor's consent is made irrelevant in statutory rape law. It makes sense because minors don't have the life experiences of an adult and are more easily manipulated into situations that they may be harmed easily. Law is always made keeping in mind the broader public policy implications, rather than a few individuals who may be an exception to the rule. I strongly agree with statutory rape laws. It is not about the age difference, it is about protecting the interests of a minor who is mentally immature to consent.

Edit: I think he got off easy at 6 years. He should have gotten the full sentence of statutory rape in his state.

Just out of interest - studied law myself but not US based. Do the circumstances make a difference in the verdict? A 30 year old coercing a 14 year old into having sex and actually rape her against her will vs. a 30 year old in a consensual relationship with a 14 year old.
 

thecatmom

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Just out of interest - studied law myself but not US based. Do the circumstances make a difference in the verdict? A 30 year old coercing a 14 year old into having sex and actually rape her against her will vs. a 30 year old in a consensual relationship with a 14 year old.

Statutory rape has no element of consent. 30 y/o having sexual encounter with 14y/o (minor) = Statutory rape.
 

Jambalaya

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A child wearing silk dresses is not asking for it. A child drinking is not asking for it. A child asking for it is also not asking for it.

Your assumption is that a child went to an unassuming, innocent adult and asked for sexual relationship, and the poor, innocent, unassuming adult had sex with the child, and now everyone is blaming the adult? Heck, lets just say it. WE ARE BLAMING MEN FOR RAPE?? *GASP* HOW DARE WE?? The child must have looked 30 in her silk dress. The child must have forced the adult, because men aren't capable of rape. It is always the children and women asking for it with their dresses and their alcohol.

BRAVO! SALUT! *APPLAUSE*

Not at all, Catmom. I was trying to communicate how precocious she was, and how mature compared to the rest of us, so that you could envisage her and would understand my later point about the man who believed the lies about her age.

I was telling it like it is: Mature teen who seems much older than her years comes on to older man who, disgustingly, goes with it instead of sending her right home to her family. And I said how awful it was that these men didn't do the decent thing and turn her down. My focus in a couple of my posts above is all about how insane it is that these men went ahead with these girls considering it's illegal and they could lose everything, and legally they're the criminal. I didn't address their morals because they have none, so it's pointless.

It's horrendous they did what they did, and the lawyer, especially, who knew her age and was a criminal prosecutor, should have been put in jail for it. Not so sure about the other one because she lied about her age and she did look older also, so he might not have pegged it as a lie. That was also part of why I described her comparative sophistication.

I didn't body-shame her or say that she was asking for it, by describing my friend's maturity. I was describing her as she really was, for the sake of this story, and to illustrate how one man believed her lie about her age. And yes, of course I blame the men for the statutory rape. Even if my friend came on to them, it's beyond appalling that they went with it, as I said above a few times. Sickening that they would accept such propositions, and it makes you wonder how many other men out there would take an illegal opportunity if it was offered. So gross.

I'm not seeing where I wrote that women are asking for it with their dresses and their alcohol. I was merely describing an image of Penny one evening that has always stuck with me. She looked like a character from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. She was a one-off, was Penny. Very theatrical. I have no idea what she wore when she was with those men. Vacation clothes for the first and work clothes for the second, I assume.

I'm appalled that those men didn't turn her down.
 

Roselina

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Statutory rape has no element of consent. 30 y/o having sexual encounter with 14y/o (minor) = Statutory rape.

Yes, I get that. But do the circumstances - which can differ from case to case - have an impact on the sentence?
 

HollyJane

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Just out of interest - studied law myself but not US based. Do the circumstances make a difference in the verdict? A 30 year old coercing a 14 year old into having sex and actually rape her against her will vs. a 30 year old in a consensual relationship with a 14 year old.

There is NO consensual relationship with a 14 year old. The law says they cannot consent. So, no, there is no differentiation between one saying they consented and one saying they didn't.
 

Roselina

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There is NO consensual relationship with a 14 year old. The law says they cannot consent. So, no, there is no differentiation between one saying they consented and one saying they didn't.

That is not what I mean. We need to differentiate. Looking only at the facts an act can be consensual or non consensual. However, before the court this does not matter. Sex alone in this constellation is considered a criminal act and therefore punishable. My question is, if - based on the merits of the case - the judge has a judicial discretion concerning the degree of penalty? If he concludes that a girl has willingly agreed to the intercourse and willingly entered a (longterm) relationship with the perpetrator (and let's not discuss here if that was indeed the case as we were not part of the trial and would not know on what the judge concluded this or not), will the sentence be different than in a case where the perpetrator coerced a young girl into having sex against her will and also telling him to stop (this as an example). Short: Can the circumstances - as determined by the court - make a difference in the degree of the sentence?
 

Roselina

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The guy is a pedophile. Plain and simple - you don't know how many other "acts" he has committed. This is the only one you are aware of. Sicko - I would kill him if it were my child.

And you don't know if he has committed any other "acts". You must be careful here to not prejudge. I can understand your feelings as a mother. But killing him would make you a criminal. Plain and simple. We have courts to sentence and are not living in a society of vigilante justice.
 

Jambalaya

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will the sentence be different than in a case where the perpetrator coerced a young girl into having sex against her will

If there was force, it's no longer a statutory rape charge - it's a rape charge. But where the victim is underage, I'm sure that statutory rape is added to the charge list.
 

wildcat03

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One of the weird parts of the story is that they thought she was taking birth control for acne. She was only 14 years old so how did she get a script and the parents thought it was for acne? Wouldn’t they have an involved in her health care at that point to know? It just seems strange.

Obviously it was many years ago, but it has long been standard of care to give adolescents (starting around age 12) a few minutes of time alone with their pediatrician/family practitioner. Even if the parent is there, you just ask them to step out for a moment. I'm almost 40 and my pediatrician did this, and it's what was taught when I was on my rotations in family medicine and pediatrics (2007-2009).
 

yennyfire

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Some states address this. They're named the Romeo and Juliet laws. Basically, some states allow for relationships as you described above that are close in age. The acceptable age gap varies widely. (I saw a chart when I was googling this issue.) Mostly it's 2-3 years, but CA is 10, and Kentucky is 5.

Some states have no Romeo and Juliet laws, which means that in the scenario you point out above, the legal adult who is 16 and has slept with a girl who is, say, 15 and 11 months, can be prosecuted exactly the same as if he was decades older than her.

If your state has no Romeo and Juliet laws, you might want to make your son aware of that - especially if the age of consent is 18 where you live. Because if he is 18 and has a 17-year-old girlfriend - which is a very common and normal situation - then he would potentially be leaving himself open to prosecution by her parents or anyone else. I don't think it has to be PIV sex, either. In my state, people can be prosecuted under statutory rape for oral sex, too.

It’s definitely worth a convo! We’ve had the safe sex talk ad nauseum but this hasn’t come up, but we need to, although he’s pretty focused on school and sports and finds most girls “too clingy”, lol! I’m perfectly fine with his perception!
 

YadaYadaYada

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My first relationship actually fell under the Romeo and Juliet law in our state. He was 16 and I was 18, we went to the same high school and met in study hall. I had a full time job and my own apartment only by necessity but I was still very young and naive. His parents became parental figures to me since I didn’t have any of my own family in my life.

Looking back I give his parents a lot of credit, it was kind of an odd dynamic but we were good kids who didn’t get into trouble and spent a lot of time at the movies and at the mall.

I was surprised by some of the acceptable age ranges for Romeo and Juliet laws in other states.
 

Jambalaya

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It’s definitely worth a convo!

Right, yennyfire?? It had never occurred to me that an 18-year-old could be prosecuted for a relationship with a 17-year-old if the age of consent is 18. And if it happens in a state that has no close-in-age exceptions, potentially the legal adult could be in a world of trouble.
 

Jambalaya

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I still can't believe that the adult men that my friend came on to ran with it and had sex with her instead of firmly saying no and telling her parents what she was up to. Makes me wonder how many other older men might not start it, but would do it if offered, instead of doing the decent thing and turning her down. *shudder* Makes me sick. They should know better, but they risk the child's welfare and their own destruction just for a few minutes of sex? Disgusting and INSANE. There is NO WORLD in which I would ever respond to the advances of a 15-year-old boy. Sick, sick, sick.
 

Niel

Super_Ideal_Rock
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An “underage woman” is a child.
If he assaulted a 3 year old and 10 years later the child didn’t remembers would you shrug that off because you don’t want to make the child a victim?
Her recognition his *criminal behavior * doesn’t determine his guilt

An underage woman is a child.
 

Jambalaya

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If he assaulted a 3 year old and 10 years later the child didn’t remembers would you shrug that off because you don’t want to make the child a victim?

I'm not following. She does remember and she was 14.5 not 3, and I don't know what you mean about not wanting to make a child a victim. And I don't remember using the phrase "underage woman." Not sure who your post is directed to?
 
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Niel

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I'm not following. She does remember and she was 14.5 not 3, and I don't know what you mean about not wanting to make a child a victim. And I don't remember using the phrase "underage woman." Not sure who your post is directed to?

My post is directed to your topic in general.
You’re right you and others may not have used the exact words “young woman” but it conveys the exact sentiment and I think the point should be made. the overarching sentiment of some comments here of “well it’s only statutory rape” screams a misunderstanding that she was a child. Child assault is child assault full stop.

Obviously based on your first post she remembers. You’re right I don’t think you understand my point.

She was assaulted. He committed a crime. My analogy was to point out that just because a *child* couldn’t recognize the abuse (for whatever reason) society as a whole is responsible for prosecuting criminals who assault children.
 
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GliderPoss

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What the actual f*ck!? :eek-2: A 30 year old man having sex with a 14 year old is paedophilia. She is still a child and not able to make fully-informed consensual decisions. He deserved the book thrown at him quite frankly! He knew better and still made a bad choice...
 

thecatmom

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Mar 18, 2021
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What the actual f*ck!? :eek-2: A 30 year old man having sex with a 14 year old is paedophilia. She is still a child and not able to make fully-informed consensual decisions. He deserved the book thrown at him quite frankly! He knew better and still made a bad choice...

Thank you. I just can't with all this "ooo she looked older for her age", "ooo she drank", "ooo she wore chiffon dress", "ooo she must have asked for it", "ooo she wanted it all" crap anymore. Urgh.
 

Jambalaya

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Hi Catmom, the girl with the chiffon dress was my friend who had a relationship with an older man when she was 15.5, not the young women who dated an older man age 14-16. I described her with her chiffon top and 1930s wineglass because I was conveying how stylish she was and I was enjoying that memory of her. That snapshot of her in my mind was at a party with her, me, and our peer group and neither of her older boyfriends were anywhere near. I can't even remember if it was before or after she met them. And I don't think she was drinking, anyway. She just had a lovely Jazz Age-style wineglass which went with her Flapper-style outfit. I'm sorry I did some stage-setting when remembering her. I obviously shouldn't have done that. I want to make clear that in no way do I think that her looking stylish had anything to do with anything I was just speaking of her fondly.

I'm sorry also if I have the impression that I thought either of the women I know who had underage relationships were asking for it. I know for a fact that both were happy in their relationships at ages 14-16 at that time. One still seems happy with her choice now that she's 30, but I've lost touch with Penny (the one when we were 15.5.)

I can tell you that Penny was pretty happy with it all at the time, and the woman who was 14.5 and is now 30 says it was all good. That does not make it right on the mens' part; in fact, as I've said multiple times on the thread, I found it gross on their parts. They should have known better.

As I've also said a few times, there is much legal debate on this subject where the younger party consents and where there is an age gap of up to ten years, which counts as close-in-age in CA.

My point is that this subject is an interesting legal debate where the younger party insists she's fine and happy and where she is at least 14, because that's an age where many people are having sex. In no way do I think that anyone is asking for anything by wearing a chiffon top, and neither do I think it's OK for a 3-year-old to be assaulted if she doesn't remember (Niel.)

I hope those things are clear.
 

Jambalaya

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What the actual f*ck!? :eek-2: A 30 year old man having sex with a 14 year old is paedophilia. She is still a child and not able to make fully-informed consensual decisions. He deserved the book thrown at him quite frankly! He knew better and still made a bad choice...

It's an uncomfortable truth, but the victim that I know would beg to differ. She's now 30 and says he made her happy. This is why I find it an interesting debate. I would have said exactly the same as the above myself if I didn't know this young woman and hadn't listened to her story.

Why on earth she would want someone so much older, and what the eff the men were doing in embarking on those relationships is another story. If they were so taken with these teens, I'd have thought they could have just waited until they were 16. (The age of consent where I live.)

I don't think the statutory rape laws are straightforward when a number of conditions are met, such as being close to the age of consent, a close age gap, someone who says she consented freely, etc. And in fact, that's why there's so much debate on the topic, and why there are Romeo and Juliet clauses, age-gap clauses, and a lot of judge discretion. It's not straightforward in some cases.

If we are to take a zero tolerance view, then an 18-year-old with a 17-year-old must surely attract the same punishment as a 14/30 pairing. In fact, it actually does in my state. There are no Romeo and Juliet laws and no age-gap exceptions.

In my state, statutory rape is punishable by up to life in prison. I think the reason he got such a light sentence of six years was because it was consensual and the victim was closely questioned and maintained her position that she was happy. So yeah, it was a big age gap, and he just got the six years when the judge had the option of giving him life - which she could easily have done, given that the age gap was 16-ish years. (Can't remember his exact age at the time.)

There's just one overall opinion on this thread, summed up by Glider's statement above, but the number of exceptions and the weirdly lenient judgement described above illustrate that this is a very nuanced area of the law. I was very surprised that the sentence wasn't more given that this state is pretty strict on statutory rape - on paper. No age-gap exceptions, no RJ laws, and punishable by an unlimited number of years in jail.

The reason my interest in this subject was piqued is because of the young woman I know (the one who's now 30).
 
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Cerulean

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It's an uncomfortable truth, but the victim that I know would beg to differ. She's now 30 and says he made her happy. This is why I find it an interesting debate. I would have said exactly the same as the above myself if I didn't know this young woman and hadn't listened to her story.

Why on earth she would want someone so much older, and what the eff the men were doing in embarking on those relationships is another story. If they were so taken with these teens, I'd have thought they could have just waited until they were 16. (The age of consent where I live.)

I don't think the statutory rape laws are straightforward when a number of conditions are met, such as being close to the age of consent, a close age gap, someone who says she consented freely, etc. And in fact, that's why there's so much debate on the topic, and why there are Romeo and Juliet clauses, age-gap clauses, and a lot of judge discretion. It's not straightforward in some cases.

If we are to take a zero tolerance view, then an 18-year-old with a 17-year-old must surely attract the same punishment as a 14/30 pairing. In fact, it actually does in my state. There are no Romeo and Juliet laws and no age-gap exceptions.

In my state, statutory rape is punishable by up to life in prison. I think the reason he got such a light sentence of six years was because it was consensual and the victim was closely questioned and maintained her position that she was happy. So yeah, it was a big age gap, and he just got the six years when the judge had the option of giving him life - which she could easily have done, given that the age gap was 16-ish years. (Can't remember his exact age at the time.)

There's just one overall opinion on this thread, summed up by Glider's statement above, but the number of exceptions and the weirdly lenient judgement described above illustrate that this is a very nuanced area of the law. I was very surprised that the sentence wasn't more given that this state is pretty strict on statutory rape - on paper. No age-gap exceptions, no RJ laws, and punishable by an unlimited number of years in jail.

The reason my interest in this subject was piqued is because of the young woman I know (the one who's now 30).

What is concerning is that you are failing to appreciate that the victim could not give consent. Their attitude about it, especially as you think you understand it, is irrelevant. You are in no position to truly assess the damage that was done (or to play devils advocate, lack thereof).

There is nothing particularly interesting or thought provoking about the example you’ve given where the victim was “happy”, because you are simply not a professional, who can reasonably assess how she actually feels. You have no idea what the perpetrator did before or after their “relationship” and frankly I think your whole attitude and flexibility about is at best irresponsible, and at worst reckless and dangerous.

Other posters have enumerated possibilities that should cast doubt on your assessment, such as grooming, Stockholm’s syndrome, etc. none of which you were even aware of, and yet you still hold firm to the speculation that you know that your assessment of the situation is accurate and grasp at other insufficient anecdotes that validate your views.

You also keep citing Romeo and Juliet cases, piggybacking on the example of the 30yr old / 14yr old. You are conflating the two scenarios and using the “happiness” of the 14yr old in question as anecdotal evidence in support of more lenient Romeo and Juliet laws.

Judges also are privy to information that you are not - eg testimonies from experts, such as a psychologist, who can truly assess what the victim experienced and the long term impact. Their expertise is reviewing evidence, it’s not yours. It’s not mine either. And there are good and bad judges in the world because humans aren’t perfect.

I am not trying to be mean or too antagonist but you are expressing extremely controversial attitudes in a very cavalier manner, and you seem to have little depth of knowledge in the area. Heck, I’m not an expert either. Not by any means. Curiosity is one thing, debate is another, but you seem quite settled in your opinion, despite comments, which I find disturbing.
 

HollyJane

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Your first sentence, Cerulean...

Jambalaya and Roselina fail to grasp that and keep wanting to differentiate between a 14 year old who "consents" and one who doesn't. There is NO differentiation. NONE. A child CANNOT consent. PERIOD.

Also, Jambalaya, I noticed in some of your recent posts that you have started to change 14 and 15 to 14.5 and 15.5. Again, there is NO differentiation there. A child is a child is a child, and Again- CANNOT give consent.

I'm also not trying to be mean. I'm just trying to be clear about this important issue to protecting children.
 

Jambalaya

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I don't know. Like I said, I wouldn't have thought about the topic this way if I didn't know this this young woman and had heard her story. (She's a young woman now, I mean. 30.)

I'm conflicted on some cases, like hers. On the one hand, I think it's completely disgusting on his part, this man having sex with someone at 14. On the other, she says she's fine and he made her happy - and she's saying that at 30, which I think is meaningful.
 

Jambalaya

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Right, legally she can't give consent, but both teens at the time felt that emotionally they could, and that it was their body to do with as they pleased, and I know one who feels the same at 30. I've lost touch with the other one.

Come to think of it, I have a former female friend who slept with a 15-year-old boy when she was about 27. Gross.
 

GeorgieQ

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It's interesting how our society perceives and punishes some but not all. Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones) and, arguably, Elvis Presley come to mind. Both men clearly groomed a child yet neither were punished for their behaviour. A child is a child and must be protected at all costs, regardless of who is doing the assaulting.
 

Jambalaya

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I guess the 14 yo convinced the judge, since he got a really light sentence despite the 16y age gap. She was a woman, too. I'm suprised how lightlt he got off.
 

HollyJane

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Right, legally she can't give consent, but both teens at the time felt that emotionally they could, and that it was their body to do with as they pleased, and I know one who feels the same at 30. I've lost touch with the other one.

Come to think of it, I have a former female friend who slept with a 15-year-old boy when she was about 27. Gross.

Your "discussion" of pedophilia, and that's what it's come down to, and you have now added another example of the woman and 15 year old boy, has gotten to the point where...

It's creeping me out. I'm at the point where I'm wondering if your account has been hacked. Seriously
 

Jambalaya

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Under a zero-tolerance policy, someone who's 15 and 11 months having sex with someone who's 16 (if that's the age of consent), or someone who's 18 and having sex with someone who's 17 and 11 months (if 18 is the age of consent) should be punished the same as a 69-year-old who grooms a 14-year-old.

That's crazy, and it's an illustration of why these laws vary widely, with their exceptions etc.

I'm undecided on what I think about all this. I just think it's interesting, probably because I have heard this woman's story in detail.
 
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