Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Hey, she said she was 18!"

North Texas attorney Richard Gladden is trying to get the statutory rape law repealed. His argument is that if an adult didn't know that the juvenile was under-aged, then it shouldn't be a crime for him to have consensual sex with that juvenile. The stories told by the reporter are very compelling*. Innocent servicemen, preyed upon by sexually-advanced teens with women's bodies who claim to be full adults. Their lives ruined by felony convictions and lifetime sex offender registration.

They showed some pictures of girls with developed figures and their faces blurred out, as evidence that you just can't tell. How were these men --properly the victims themselves-- to know that these little seductresses weren't adults?

Hey, I know that the average age of the onset of puberty has dropped remarkably in the last 100 years or so, but this sounds the same as those morons who whine, "How can you even tell if she wanted it? I mean, I was getting mixed signals from that bus driver..." The fact is, if you're grown up enough to have consensual sex, then you need to be grown up enough to know who you're potentially making a baby with, or trading your next infection with.

If you can't tell that this kid isn't 18, you're not doing any kind of due diligence between your ears.

The funny thing is, I think that we've got too many felonies, and I think that it's pretty dumb that there's no graduation between "illegal, but not a felony," and "wholesale felony."

Just this month, I had to turn down a complainant's case of Sexual Assault Of A Child, which the victim's mother had brought to me. It seems that her kid, at 15, was having sex with an actor who was 18. Sexual Assault, right? Well, Texas Penal Code provides an affirmative defense if the actor is not greater than 3 years older than the victim. In this case, the actor was 2 years and 9 months older than the complainant's kid. Had the kid been 4 months younger, then I would have had a third degree felony case to deal with. Just 100 days one way or the other made the difference between a felony and no crime at all in this state. Can't we graduate it a little bit, like Theft and Criminal Mischief?

What bugs me about this is that, should Counselor Gladden's proposed legal change be made, every dadgummed pedophile with a van, a bag of candy, and a map to the parks and elementary school bus routes in the state is going to claim "Hey, I didn't know! She said she was taking classes at State U when I complimented her tricycle and offered her some Jesus Juice!"


*You've got to laugh at the graphic, though. When they mention that the Marine was arrested with the girl in Yuma, AZ, the screen filled with a map showing the location of Yuma. Not that this had any real bearing on the story. They just thought that you might want to know where Yuma was, apparently.

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At Wednesday, May 11, 2011 6:15:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Tricky one there. Not all sex offences are predatory. Lumping the offenders all together and tagging them for life, has the potential to trivialize the whole registry. The point of the "sex offender" label is not to merely shame your average, garden-variety sleazebag, but to protect us from true predators. Since the difference is very real, yes it should be codified.

At Wednesday, May 11, 2011 7:50:00 PM, Blogger Sabra said...

Yeah. By the time I was 11, everyone thought I was 16. By the time I was 13, I could have bought beer without anyone wanting to see my ID. Not that I was going around hitting on grown men, but "She looked older!" isn't a defense.

Children are children and adults are adults, and one reason we don't allow children to do the things we allow adults to do is because they're not capable of the same level of reasoning. That includes making proper consent for sex.

Not to mention the fact that if a 13-year-old is making sexual advances toward a grown man, the chances are very good she is already a victim of sexual abuse (what the hell happened to precocious sexual knowledge being considered a red flag for abuse?).

I'll agree with you, though, that there should be some gradation of crime involved.

At Thursday, May 12, 2011 7:28:00 AM, Anonymous PhillipC said...

The average age of onset of puberty may have dropped in the past hundred years, but our society has extended the age of childhood immensely. A young woman of 13 or so was considered of marriageable age as recently as our western expansion. They would marry, have children, and keep house as adults. Young men would be expected to begin working and providing for themselves, and prove they could provide for themselves and a potential family before getting married.

Today we think of someone under 25 as a child, even though an 18 year old can be sent off to war, and a 14 year old can be convicted of crimes as an adult. There's too much hypocrisy going on in trying to assign what's right and wrong for certain ages, and we need to stop trying to legislate morality and begin shaping our laws to account for human nature.

I also disagree with the practice of labeling everyone who falls afoul of some of these stupid laws with a lifetime label. As you point out, less than a year either way in the ages makes a guy sleeping with his girlfriend a felony, and some localities have added stupid things such as urinating against a dumpster in a dark alley as a sexual felony which causes the offender to be put on a lifelong list. Felonies used to be reserved for people who did things such as grand theft, murder, and rape. Now it's lost all its meaning except in the rights lost by the person convicted of one.

At Thursday, May 12, 2011 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Suz, most jurisdictions have different levels of sex offender registration. In Texas, we have three levels, with the least serious only having to register once a year for 10 years. They're classified according to risk, using an algorithm.

PhillipC, part of me agrees, but a good part of me says that, if an adult wants to come and have sex with a child, bypassing the parents' consent, then that adult needs to be held criminally accountable. Look, I know that the sex drive is strong at the onset of puberty. Lord knows I know. But you have to give parents a means to keep other adults away from their kids.

Consider that, when 13 was a marriageable age, the daughter was basically handed over in custody from the father to her husband, who could beat her and rape her as he liked, too. Let's remember ALL about the "Good Old Days," shall we not?

At Friday, May 13, 2011 7:46:00 PM, Blogger Mikael said...

The limit is 16 in most of europe(here in sweden it was 15 until very recently, we had our law adjusted to synch with the rest of europe).

I think there's a lot of sex related laws over in the states that don't make a whole lot of sense(see wilson v state of georgia).

Mind you I've aborted courting a girl once when I found out she was highschool(16-18) rather than college(19+) at one point, I think I was around 25.

At Friday, May 13, 2011 11:43:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

It IS a different world these days... No question the females are maturing faster, and are much more aggressive. Having said that, there is STILL the issue of good parenting and parental control of under age teens (of both sexes).

At Saturday, May 14, 2011 6:17:00 PM, Anonymous FrankC said...

You might have wanted to rush there and wait for the 3:10.

At Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:17:00 AM, Blogger Justthisguy said...

Silly NT nonsense. When I was a kid I preferred the company of grownups to that of fellow kids. Now that I am a (quite aged) grownup I prefer the company of kids. (well, the smart ones, anyway)

I don't mean that in a copulatory way, but try to explain that to some silly woman who gets all angry at you because her kid saw you flying a model airplane and you're explaining to him how it works, and how to make one.

I mind the time when I was a kid with a kite stuck up a tree, and a kindly old gent encouraged me with expert advice on how best to climb the tree. Try that these days, and you'll likely have to talk to some rude person with a badge.

At Monday, May 30, 2011 10:38:00 PM, Blogger J.R.Shirley said...

I remember my next-door neighbor, in the house I grew up in. She looked at least 18, and more like 21, when she was 13. (She also had 2 or 3 kids by the time she actually did reach that age!)

I think "due diligence" should be called for, but if it can be proven that someone took reasonable steps to ensure his or her partner was of age (such as looking at their driver's license or other government ID), no legal penalties should follow if the partner lied about being of age.

Aren't we supposed to be looking for mens rea?


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