Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kid is Sex Offender AND Victim

It's downright paradoxical that a person can be both a victim and the perpetrator of the same crime, and simultaneously be charged with the crime and treated as the victim of it. Nonetheless, that is what can and does happen in the wacky world that is "status crime" offenses. Recently a 13-year-old girl in Ogden, Utah has been in such a paradox after having consensual sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend. Utah law makes no mistake: sex with anyone under the age of 14 is prohibited, regardless of who's doing it. Her boyfriend also has been hit with the same paradoxical charge.

There comes a point where one has to wonder who these laws are attempting to target. Are they really meant to prohibit all sexual conduct with AND between young people, or are they meant to protect minors from "sexual predators?" As the law explicitly stands, it seems the former more than the later. So long as that is the case, we'll continue to see children and teens becoming registered as "sex offenders", and no one will do anything about it because "it doesn't happen often enough."

The worst part of this story seems to be that the court only found out about the incident after the girl became pregnant. In that predicament, she not only recieved little support as a "new mother," but was slapped with a conviction in juvenile court for "sexually abusing" her "underage boyfriend"--who also was hit with the same charge against her. She appealed this conviction back in 2004.
Her motion noted that for juveniles who are 16 and 17, having sex with others in their own age group does not qualify as a crime. Juveniles who are 14 or 15 and have sex with peers can be charged with unlawful conduct with a minor, but the law provides for mitigation when the age difference is less than four years, making the offense a misdemeanor. For adolescents under 14, though, there are no exceptions or mitigation and they are never considered capable of consenting to sex.
So essentially, the younger the kid is, the more severe the charge they receive if they have sex with kids their own age. Kids under 14 get charged with felonies, while kids over 14 get charged with misdemeanors so long as their victims/offenders are aged within 4 years of them. For kids aged 16 and 17, there is no crime. How does this serve to protect children--particularly younger kids? Doesn't it stand to reason that if a child can not be considered capable of having any sex (be it consensual or not), then they can't be held responsible for sexual "offenses?" The law in Utah is obviously designed to weigh the criminalization of the sexual exploitation of younger children more heavily but obviously wasn't intended to make the children themselves into criminals.

But do the courts listen to reason? Apparently not, and they denied her appeal with this decision, almost acknowledging the fact that their own laws don't make any sense and abiding by them anyway:
The Utah Court of Appeals last December upheld the judge's refusal to dismiss the allegation, saying the law's "rigorous protections" for younger minors include protecting them for each other.
Maybe she'll have better luck with the Supreme Court...but don't count on it. According to an assistant to the Utah Attorney General, "Matthew Bates," the statute is not unreasonable, and is DESIGNED to, and I quote: "the statute in question is designed to prevent sex with children who are 13 and younger, even if the other person is in the same age group." With this glaring admission, the last piece of the puzzle is in place. The Utah courts don't care about protecting children, they simply don't want children engaging in sexual acts with one another, consensual or not, and will go to any lengths to criminalize all those who do.
Randall Richards argued that prosecuting children under a law meant to protect them is illogical.
It's left up to the girl's attorney to be the sole voice of reason, but he's wrong on one count. By their own admission, the statute is NOT there to protect kids after all. It's there to prosecute them--in which case, it ceases being all that "illogical."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great article, and I agree, this is absurd and pathetic. Labeling kids sex offenders for life and ruining their lives, is just wrong, and I'd even say evil!

    I have put your item on my blog, if you don't mind, here:

    And I have a lot more stories like this, here: