June 17, 2015

"Male Teen Has Consensual Sex with Female Teen. He Gets 25 Years as Sex Offender, Banned from Internet."

A headline at Reason.com which could just as accurately have read: A 19-Year-Old-Man Has Sex With a 14-Year-Old Girl And Gets Only 90 Days in Jail.

ADDED: Actually, my headline is more accurate. Reason is deliberately trying to create the impression that 2 teens, equal in other respects, were treated radically differently because one was male and the other female. But if this had been a case of a 19-year-old woman with a 14-year-old boy and she only got 90 days in jail for it, we'd be hearing about how easily we shrug off predation by females.

108 comments:

richlb said...

I thought the same thing. It's unfortunate, but such are the dangers of the random hookup. There are other more disturbing cases (like a 19 and 17 year old relationship). I do think the use of the Sex Offender Registry is applied too sweepingly to situations like this though.

EMD said...

You should excerpt what the judge said. He was not strictly applying the law in his sentencing, but a displaced sense of morality.

Brando said...

That's the problem with statutory rape laws--they set a rigid criteria that a 14 year old girl can have consensual sex with a 14 year old boy, but with a 19 year old boy she is suddenly unable to consent.

Obviously there has to be some cutoff--there'd be no question if we were talking about say an 8 year old girl--but when we get into the realm of teenagers, people plausibly claiming to be older than they really are, and uneven enforcement between boys and girls (which makes less sense when we're being told women are more mentally mature than men at that age) it becomes a jumbled mess.

Ultimately, such cases should be looked at on a case-by-case basis, but then no teenager would know whether what they are planning to do is against the law. That might lead more teenagers to err on the side of caution.

Robert Cook said...

The girl represented herself as 17, and had a fake ID. The girl's own mother wanted the judge to drop the case. This is a deplorable and frightening example of judicial overreach.

Fen said...

"Only" 90 days? You ever served any time at all in jail?

Fen said...

Althouse convicted of hate speech triggering. ONLY sentenced to 30 days in jail...

Bobby said...

Robert,

I don't disagree with your conclusion, but the article only says she lied about her age- I didn't see where it said that she actually had or used a fake ID. The defense attorney brought up the fake ID to point out that- as the law stands in in 30 of the 50 states- even if one demanded to see a passport or driver's license, and the ID turned out to be fake, that person could still be convicted of statutory rape as defendants cannot use "she lied about her age" as a component of their defense. As I understand it (and I studied engineering, not the law), statutory rape is one of the few crimes that does not require mens rea, only actus rea.

Brando said...

The point of statutory rape laws is that some people are incapable of consent, due not to drugging, threats or trickery, but age. Obviously some people are more mature than others at the same age, and some are mature beyond their years. But to make sense of a case like this we have to believe that this 14 year old was absolutely incapable of ever consenting to sex with a 19 year old (though perhaps she could consent to sex with another 14 year old). If this reasoning makes sense to someone, I'd like to hear how.

Bob Ellison said...

Not my problem. I'm trans-17.

Ann Althouse said...

"You should excerpt what the judge said. He was not strictly applying the law in his sentencing, but a displaced sense of morality."

I read what the judge said and I don't see the problem. Obviously, the law against having sex with minors expresses morality and the sentence is premised on our ideas of morality. What are you calling "displaced"?

Ann Althouse said...

"The girl represented herself as 17, and had a fake ID. The girl's own mother wanted the judge to drop the case. This is a deplorable and frightening example of judicial overreach."

The age of consent in Michigan seems to be 16. (Do your own legal research. Don't rely on my word.) Anyone underage and seeking sex on line is going to make the claim of being of-age when asked. This girl was only 14. The guy only got 90 days.

In any case, what I'm trying to focus on here is how deceptive Reason's headline is.

If you want to broaden the discussion to how to deal with underage sex and lying, get specific. This man was 5 years older than the girl. Yeah, she likes him and doesn't want him to pay the price for her lying. But this isn't just about her. It's about other young people who will be targeted if the law is too lenient about this. And also, if the victim's desire to help the predator is enough to get him off the hook, predators have a huge incentive to pressure victims to say they don't want him punished.

What do you think of the domestic violence laws that require criminal charges even when the abused person says they don't want their partner charged? Those laws were responsive to problems inherent in the pattern of abuse.

Laslo Spatula said...

For those who follow my writing I always make a point of the All-American High School Cheerleader being eighteen.

I am socially responsible.

I am Laslo.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I considered it an immoral outrage for a high school girl to have a boyfriend who was in college, back when I was in high school.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"we'd be hearing about how easily we shrug off predation by females."

Um, we do easily shrug off predation by females.

CStanley said...

I have to agree with EMD about the judges statement- even though I happen to share the judge's view of the morality of the situation. The laws on statutory rape are based strictly on the idea that younger teens are incapable of consent, but the judge's statement isn't about that. It was instead a condemnation of the act of hooking up. I don't see how that is relevant to the law (again, even though I agree that a random hookup is a greater moral lapse than is consensual sex within a relationship.)

Mark O said...

It's not the 90 days. It's being listed as a sex offender and, worse yet, being banned from the Internet. You don't think that's excessive in these particular circumstances?

exhelodrvr1 said...

She is capable of making the decision on her own to have an abortion, but not to have sex?

CStanley said...

What do you think of the domestic violence laws that require criminal charges even when the abused person says they don't want their partner charged? Those laws were responsive to problems inherent in the pattern of abuse.

I think the analogy here fails because sex can either be consensual or not, and it's the lack of consent that can define the incident as a criminal offense. There isn't really a similar situation where battery is considered normal and consensual in some situations between partners. When the criminality of the act hinges entirely on the opinion of the potential victim, then it really does matter whether or not that person considers him or herself victimized.

That said, I think your point about coercion is valid and should be given some consideration.

khesanh0802 said...

The headline was terribly misleading - a clear attempt to get one to click on the article. Worked for us. The article itself is pretty straight forward reporting with a bias toward the boy. Life was a lot easier when we were all scared to death the girl might get pregnant and we would have to face our responsibility.

EMD said...

What are you calling "displaced"?

Using the internet as a means to meet people is somehow more depraved than any other. Thus, the internet ban in ridiculous and out of bounds. Is it any different from horny 19 year old boys going anywhere else to meet girls?

Also, he's not allowed to speak to anyone under the age of 17 outside of his brothers. How is that policed? What if he goes to a fast food drive-thru and the girl working there on the other end of the speaker is 16?

I would support a longer jail/probation term in exchange for the internet/smart phone ban and sex offender registry.

Again, Reason is only trying to apply logic to the law in a case where both parties have agreed to consent. Yeah, their headlines are going to be somewhat deceptive when they clearly have an agenda or POV (they are not a 'newspaper'), just as your headlines might be!

Also, Donald Trump. Donald Trump. Donald Trump.





$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

The 25 years as a registered Sex Offender is far worse punishment than 90 days in jail. Your headline is also misleading.

Ann Althouse said...

"She is capable of making the decision on her own to have an abortion, but not to have sex?"

She's not the one getting punished here. The question is what the adult will be punished for doing and it happens to be a crime that doesn't have consent as a defense.

I see what you're trying to say about consent if we think of statutory rape law as deeming someone incapable of consenting. It makes you want to say therefore the juvenile's decision to do anything is always a nullity. Is that a position you want to defend?

Ann Althouse said...

"Again, Reason is only trying to apply logic to the law in a case where both parties have agreed to consent."

You're not talking about logic. Libertarians tend to overdo their claims of using logic. But at least you said "trying."

I don't agree that they are even trying. It think they just LIKE to maximize freedom and they DON'T LIKE to talk about why they like it so much and how far they are willing to go to sacrifice other values.

Paul said...

"Is that a position you want to defend?"

No, the position he/she is defending is if a child can "choose" to kill her unborn child, she can certainly choose to have sex...

EDH said...

Is it really so rare these kinds of relationships happen between same sex kids? And when it is discovered and prosecuted, obviously it's because of homophobia, at which point the older criminal becomes a celebrity.

Google Kaitlyn Hunt, (The World's Most Famous Sex Offender™).

Hunt's mother claimed that the prosecutor and the younger girl's family were motivated in part by an anti-gay bias.

"We have people that are homophobes," Smith said. "It's not something they're willing to allow their daughter to express. It's not something that they're willing to accept."


http://abcnews.go.com/US/exclusive-florida-teen-unaware-sex-relationship-underage-girlfriend/story?id=20471823

And she only went to jail because she violated a no contact order.

Prosecutors withdrew a plea deal Monday for Kaitlyn Hunt, the Florida teen charged over a same-sex relationship with an underage classmate, NBC affiliate WPTV reports.

Hunt's attorney, Charles Sullivan, reportedly told the station the plea deal, which would have kept the 19-year-old out of jail, was withdrew due to an alleged violation of court orders.

Prosecutors said last week that Hunt contacted the alleged victim in the case almost daily since March 1, a violation that could put her back in jail, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

According to the paper, court documents say Hunt and the girl had contact through nearly 20,000 test messages and Facebook.

NBC affiliate WPTV reported the state attorney's office says Hunt sent sexually explicit photos, a video and two continued to secretly meet. The station reported Hunt's mother also texted the alleged victim and urged her to delete "everything" so no one would find out the girl and Hunt had spoken.

William said...

Good people have a history of being hysterically punitive towards sex crimes. That's a constant. The definition of what is a sex crime varies over time however. In the nineteenth century, this couple would have been of appropriate ages for courting. Catherine the Great's first marriage proposal was received at about this girl's age--from her uncle! We're now all agreed that Turing was the victim of injustice, and surely he was. The appropriate moral lesson to be gleaned from his case is not that gay is beautiful but that good people are self righteous fools when it comes to sexual transgressions.

Mac McConnell said...

What kind of parents raise a 14 year old mattress back.

Alexander said...

What an idiot.

He should have claimed he was trans-sixteen. Then everyone would have applauded him for his bravery and probably jailed the judge for being a hateful bigot.

I don't have a law degree, but if anyone would like to hire me as an 'adviser', we can talk.

exhelodrvr1 said...

"It makes you want to say therefore the juvenile's decision to do anything is always a nullity"

No, it's aimed at the extreme inconsistencies of the "pro-abortion for minors with no parental consent", and the encouraging teens to have sex aspects of our education system and society, while then claiming that they can't make these sexually-related decisions on their own.

EMD said...

I don't agree that they are even trying. It think they just LIKE to maximize freedom and they DON'T LIKE to talk about why they like it so much and how far they are willing to go to sacrifice other values.

What other value is sacrificed on the altar of freedom given the entire context of this particular case?

Does it make it easier for men to prey on young teens if this singular case is decided differently, yes or no?

MayBee said...

Sometimes I think Althouse is leading the way on the neo-Victorianism of the left.

Brando said...

"Is that a position you want to defend?"

I actually read that comment to mean that if the whole basis of statutory rape laws is that minors are too immature to give proper consent, then why should minors be able to decide to have an abortion?

I suppose an argument can be made for the distinction between the maturity to consent and the maturity to decide whether to abort a fetus. For example, contracts made with children are generally unenforceable, unless the contract is for necessities. Can that apply to this distinction?

MayBee said...

A 19 year old shouldn't be sent to prison for having sex with a 14 year old. 14 year olds are capable of wanting sex and presenting themselves as available for sex. They are capable of presenting themselves as older than 14.

Morally, it isn't where I want society to be. But that ship sailed decades ago. A century ago, these two could have gotten married. Now it's a crime and the guy has to be sent to jail? I don't think so. What a waste of money.

Ann Althouse said...

I do think young girls should have adult guidance in making the abortion decision, but I certainly wouldn't deny them the right to have an abortion.

You can try to put young people off limits for sex, and then the question is what do you do when that doesn't work? One thing we do is punishe the older people who have had sex with them. One thing we don't do is force them to go through pregnancies.

I don't know why anyone would have trouble understanding the reasoning there, and I think most Americans agree with those 2 things we've basically chosen to do.

Ann Althouse said...

Some of you should do a little Googling to see what the penalty for statutory rape is in the various states, according to the statutory law.

MayBee said...

He's 19. He isn't responsible enough (according to the state) to choose to drink alcohol. How can he be responsible enough to know how old a sex partner really is if she tells him the wrong age?

One problem with being so close in age is they look, to each other, similar in age. Now, get a 36 year old man, and he can see that either a 14 year old or a 16 year old are substantially younger than him. He's looking for a young sex partner. But a 19 year old is looking for someone around his age, and a 16 year old (or 14 year old who presents herself as older) looks to be in his peer group.

CStanley said...

I don't know why anyone would have trouble understanding the reasoning there, and I think most Americans agree with those 2 things we've basically chosen to do.

But none of that is logically consistent with the idea that the state has at least some interest in protecting the life of the unborn, As I understand it (correct me if I'm misstating it) the moral reasoning of those who oppose abortion restriction even though they think abortion is morally wrong is that they trust the pregnant woman to make the decision more so than the state or collective society to do so. But how, in the case of a teen (who has already been deemed incapable of consenting to sex) can this be so?

Gabriel said...

@Althouse:Some of you should do a little Googling to see what the penalty for statutory rape is in the various states, according to the statutory law.

"You see, in Michigan there is a leniency provision for first-time offenders under age 21. It keeps them off the registry. As part of the plea deal, the prosecutor had agreed not to take a position pro or con on whether to apply the provision to Zach. But when it came time for sentencing, the prosecutor reminded the judge that he had denied leniency in similar cases twice before.

That struck defense lawyer Scott Grabel as not exactly neutral. "He did us a favor," says Grabel, "because now we have a basis to withdraw the plea."

I chatted with Grabel yesterday, too. He says that if the case is tried anew, he would like to hold off for another six-to-nine months, because by then it's possible that the Michigan Supreme Court will have decided to allow defendants to use she lied about her age as a component of their defense."

Sebastian said...

"if this had been a case of a 19-year-old woman with a 14-year-old boy and she only got 90 days in jail for it, we'd be hearing about how easily we shrug off predation by females"

Do you have any examples? Are older female teens, or women in general, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced in the same way? (Real questions, no snark intended.)

"most Americans agree with those 2 things we've basically chosen to do"

Only if Supreme Court diktat counts as choice. Most Americans would also agree with some limitations on abortion that our Supreme overlords currently don't allow. And of course many, perhaps most, of us would like to be able to choose, democratically, rather than having the anointed "find" rights or "use" whatever emanations from penumbrae they find convenient.

Gabriel said...

@CStanley: But how, in the case of a teen (who has already been deemed incapable of consenting to sex) can this be so?

In California a teen cannot use a tanning bed without her parents' written consent, but she can get an abortion without them even being informed.

Static Ping said...

I agree with Ann that the Reason headline is misleading. However, from what I read the case is rather complicated so Ann's replacement headline is not much better. I'm not sure it is possible to write a headline that would include all the nuances without going far too long.

None of the parties involved comes across well. Girl lies about her age not caring about the criminal aspect, boy looks for random sex partner and does not really seem to care who it is, judge goes overboard, prosecutor breaks a promise… something for everyone!

The ban from the Internet seems quite absurd. While it is possible to live without it, without going full Amish it is very difficult to live without it these days. Reason notes that he would have to change his major from computer science, but I'm not sure how he could get any degree with an Internet ban in place. For that matter it would be difficult for him to get a job outside of manual labor. I’m trying to determine what the equivalent penalty would have been a century ago? Banned for using the Post Office? Banned from using pen and paper? Banned from talking to anyone outside of your home? Nothing quite fits.

Mark O said...

What about this, Ann?

Gardiner took issue in open court with the pre-sentence investigation, which a document a judge considers when issuing a sentence. Gardiner pointed out what he called incorrect information that was not attributed to any source.

The April 7 report describes, for instance, a police investigation about a suspect named Zach who had been targeting underage girls on the site.

"Zach was asking victims sexual questions, asking if they were virgins, asking for them to show him pictures of their private parts and indicating to them if they don't play his games or show him naked pictures of themselves, he will send naked pictures of them to all of his contacts," wrote the pre-sentence investigator, Joseph Tourangeau, recommending against HYTA consideration. "This information strongly suggests that this defendant has engaged in pre-offense, predatory conduct."

Police later said they determined Zach Anderson was not that perpetrator.

Skyler said...

"Reason" magazine jumped the shark when Virginia Postrel left (and that's when I dropped my subscription). Since then they have not been libertarian as much as they've been anti-American, pacifists, and unreasonable about laws that protect children.

There is no question that there need to be laws protecting children from sexual predators. At what age should they be protected? Clearly age three. And age four. Most people begin to quibble as to whether 16 or 17 should be protected. But I don't think age 14 is questioned by most voters. The only way to decide the age to protect is through voting and legislation.

So what "Reason" is saying is that they aren't libertarian so much as they are anarchic. They should change their name to "Reason and NAMBLA" magazine.

Every 19 year old and above should know what jail bait is. I have no sympathy for this fool.

Skyler said...

Static Ping noted, "None of the parties involved comes across well. Girl lies about her age not caring about the criminal aspect . . ."

The 14 year old girl is the one the law is to protect. She is not legally allowed to give consent to having sex because the law says she isn't mature enough to decide what is in her best interest. That's why it's illegal to have sex with her at that age even if she lies. This is pretty basic stuff and there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with the verdict, except that he only got 90 days.

I Callahan said...

Every 19 year old and above should know what jail bait is. I have no sympathy for this fool.

I assume you have a daughter or two. Usually, those are the types of people who react this way.

That said - I've seen girls this age with builds like Kate Upton. And this is recently. When I was that age, girls didn't develop that early.

Like the above commenters said - this case is not as cut and dried as you seem to wish it is.

MayBee said...

She is not legally allowed to give consent to having sex because the law says she isn't mature enough to decide what is in her best interest.

Except there is very little in our current popular culture telling 14 year old girls this.

I Callahan said...

She is not legally allowed to give consent to having sex because the law says she isn't mature enough to decide what is in her best interest. That's why it's illegal to have sex with her at that age even if she lies.

But she's mature enough to get an abortion, without her parents' consent?

This is pretty basic stuff and there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with the verdict, except that he only got 90 days.

Also like what was said before - 100 years ago, people these ages were getting married to each other, and having their own kids a year later. People infantilize teenagers now to the point of absurd and then wonder why kids act the way they do.

Gahrie said...

She's not the one getting punished here

Woman lies, gets man in trouble, girl not punished, man sent to jail....

Anyone else seeing a pattern here?

I don't agree that they are even trying. It think they just LIKE to maximize freedom

Uhm, that is kind of the point of being a Libertarian.

and they DON'T LIKE to talk about why they like it so much

Well, they do think it is kind of obvious. Do Socialists talk about why they like spending other people's money? Do Progressives talk about why they like running other people's lives? Do Liberals talk about why they like raising taxes?

and how far they are willing to go to sacrifice other values.

Everybody does this. Some of us are appalled at how far people like you are willing to go to justify abortion and the homosexual agenda.

Fernandinande said...

AA In any case, what I'm trying to focus on here is how deceptive Reason's headline is.

First it was accurate: "A headline at Reason.com which could just as accurately have read: A 19-Year-Old-Man Has Sex With a 14-Year-Old Girl And Gets Only 90 Days in Jail."

The government lawyer is a moron (and his cartoon mustache makes him look like one): "You went online, to use a fisherman's expression, trolling for women to meet and have sex with. That seems to be part of our culture now: meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this whatsoever."

The girl did the same thing, except the guy wasn't dishonest.

And the other government lawyer violated the agreement he'd made.

Larry J said...

She lied to him and he believed her. As far as he knew, he had sex with a 17 year old girl. At what point does her deception factor into the law? Is she unaccountable for anything she did?

As for banning him from the Internet for 25 years, that's excessive, absurd, and unenforceable. That would bar him from many career opportunities and is completely unrelated to the crime of unknowingly having sex with an underage girl. That judge is a head case and supports my contention that many judges are little more than failed lawyers with sufficient political influence to get appointed or elected to the bench.

Mike said...

It is very odd how widely the sentences can vary for this crime though, with some jurisdictions given to put more weight on testimony like hers, and others less so. Location location location! applies to underage sex as well, I guess. B8ut then can you see a 19-year-old female teacher's aid getting the same sentence for having sex with a 14-year-old boy? Can you?

Mike said...

And yes, Althouse, I believe the Reason headline to be at least as odd as the other factors in this story.

Brando said...

"You can try to put young people off limits for sex, and then the question is what do you do when that doesn't work? One thing we do is punishe the older people who have had sex with them. One thing we don't do is force them to go through pregnancies."

That's where the confusion lies, Ann--you say we don't "force them to go through pregnancies." If society has decided that this same minor cannot consent to sex because of her immaturity, then how is her decision to abort (or not to abort, for that matter) legitimate? If she is just a "minor child" and therefore cannot decide to get her ears pierced, enter into most contracts, or agree to have sex, then why are we deciding that her decision regarding her pregnancy should be given any weight?

I'm sure there's a public policy reason behind this discrepency (such as the exception to contracting rights for necessities) but you're not addressing that here.

Anthony said...

I don't object to there being a law which makes it categorically impossible for a 14-year-old to legally consent to sex. However, I do object to a law which makes it possible for the victim of a fraud to be punished for being defrauded. If it was obvious that the girl was not 17, so much so that a reasonable 19-year-old would be able to know that, then it's reasonable to punish him. But if the girl's claim to be 17 was not ridiculous on its face, and 17-year-olds are legally allowed to consent to sex, the young man should not be punished. It is reasonable to hold a trial to determine whether it would be reasonable to suspect the girl was lying when she claimed to be 17.

Brando said...

"If it was obvious that the girl was not 17, so much so that a reasonable 19-year-old would be able to know that, then it's reasonable to punish him."

Not only would this require people to check IDs before having sex, but it appears you'd still be on the hook if their ID is fake. You'd need to get several forms of ID, phone in to the DMV, etc.

If it's not obvious someone is underage, then the accused should be off the hook.

Browndog said...

True story:

Step son was dating a girl while he was in high school. They dated for months, he even went to church with her family several times. Her mom caught her lying about their whereabouts one night, and got her to admit they engaged in "touching". Yes, touching. Her mom went berserk, and filed charges against "John" the next day.

At the first court hearing, the mom asked that the charges be dropped, and that she simply over-reacted. The prosecutor refused to drop the charges.

"John" was a 17 yr. old senior, the girl was a sophomore, 1 month shy of her 16th birthday at the time of the alleged "crime".

"John" spent 2 years in prison, lifetime sex offender, can't live by a school, and to this day can't be in the presence of children. He is now 35. He has to register with the police station every month, or be arrested. Oh, and is charged $10 a pop.

Married at age 28, having a baby boy the following year, he had to attend a hearing with the sentencing judge to get "permission" to live with son.

This is in Michigan.

MarkW said...

"The 25 years as a registered Sex Offender is far worse punishment than 90 days in jail. Your headline is also misleading."

Very misleading. There are such severe limits on where a sex offender may live and work that a normal life is virtually impossible (not to mention how hard it would be to earn a living if you could never use the internet!) Several years in prison would be less draconian than what he was sentenced to.

How many lives were damaged by the sex? Zero. How many were damaged by the idiot judge? I count 1) The boy, 2) the girl (who must live with the consequences of her lies), and 3) the parents of both kids. We could probably also add in 4) whoever the boy marries, and 5) their offspring:

Frank Rodriguez cannot coach his children's soccer teams. He can't get a job at a major corporation. He can't leave the state without registering with local law enforcement. A married father of four girls, he is a convicted sex offender. Neighbors can find his name and address on a public registry online.

http://www.marieclaire.com/culture/news/a6294/teen-sex-offender/


Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Look, Ann. The guy got 25 years as a registered sex offender, and five years' probation, during which he can't live in a house where anyone has a smartphone. Are there even any such where he lives? Also, no Internet use. The guy's a frakkin' CS major. What does he do now? He can't speak to anyone under 17 not in his immediate family -- literally can't speak.

So the sentence isn't "90 days." The sentence is "90 days plus 5 years living in a studio apartment, dropping out of college (there are 16-year-olds in college -- I was one myself, and you never know), and ordering meals in, via (dumb) phone because, no Internet, and keeping your mouth zipped on the street, because you never know when a stray kid might drop a word and you might thoughtlessly respond w/o knowing his/her age. I mean, knowing it, b/c IDs can be and are faked. Followed, of course, by another two decades on the sex offender registry. What he's going to do for a living those first five years is unclear; there's rather little work that doesn't require Internet access at some point.

I don't think you remotely understand how severe a blow this is. It's insanely disproportionate. Reason is entirely right.

Rich Horton said...

Law is, and always will be, a crude instrument. It doesn't do nuance and, as a result, doesn't necessarily have anything to do with justice. The truth of this comes up in all sorts of legal circumstances ("3 strikes" statutes being the classic for generating cringe worthy anecdotes of injustice.) Age of Consent laws do the same. The line they draw is arbitrary because what they are predicated upon, i.e. the ability, or inability, of a young person to decide if they want to have sex and whom to sleep with, isn't something the law or legal authorities can determine. (Well, I suppose they COULD, but it would be seriously impractical... though there is a precedent in the procedures states have in place to allow underage people to marry if they go through a legal process first.) Lines still have to be drawn and you mess around with them at your peril.

Still, there are a couple of open questions:

A) What burden can we rationally expect individuals to take on to establish proof of identity and the age of a person?

B) Given the law is a crude and blunt instrument are we, as individuals, morally justified to label every person caught by the law as a "predator" or consider them equally culpable?

My answers would be:

A) I don't know. That's a tough one.

and

B) Of course not. The law has to, its dumb and blind after all, we can think a bit more.

Brando said...

"Look, Ann. The guy got 25 years as a registered sex offender, and five years' probation, during which he can't live in a house where anyone has a smartphone. Are there even any such where he lives? Also, no Internet use. The guy's a frakkin' CS major. What does he do now? He can't speak to anyone under 17 not in his immediate family -- literally can't speak."

This deserves repeating--even aside from the nature of this particular case, the idea of putting a 19 year old who had consensual sex with a 14 year old in the same category as serial rapists is offensive, and the consequences of being on sex offender lists are draconian. It basically ruins someone's life, and a sex offender registry is meaningless when you have minor, victimless crimes included with the truly horrible stuff.

But then, neo-Victorianism is the trend, and President Hillary may be just the leader to usher it in.

Seeing Red said...

When did 19 become the magic age to become a man?

MayBee said...

That sentence is insane.

The judge sounds like he is still living in the 1950s and has no idea about the modern era of technology. He should be off the bench.

Static Ping said...

Static Ping noted, "None of the parties involved comes across well. Girl lies about her age not caring about the criminal aspect . . ."

Skyler: The 14 year old girl is the one the law is to protect. She is not legally allowed to give consent to having sex because the law says she isn't mature enough to decide what is in her best interest.


I agree that the law is designed to protect the minor and what she did is not illegal.

This does make her a paragon of virtue. First, she lied. Second, unless she is totally ignorant of the law here - which is a possibility - she knew that her lying risked criminal charges for her partner and apparently she didn't care. Third, she wanted semi-anonymous sex, apparently not caring about the risks of pregnancy, disease, or the real possibility that her partner would be dangerous.

Is she too immature to consent? Given the other details, I would absolutely agree she cannot legally consent. She is very immature. That said when children do horrible things we generally do not think this is wonderful. There's little to like about her in this situation.

Robert Cook said...

Just as it is arbitrary to consider a 14 year old girl who is sexually/physically mature a "child," it is arbitrary to consider a 19 year old man (who is legally prohibited from drinking alcohol) a "man."

Moreover, the judge's proscriptions against the boy speaking to anyone under 17 or using smart phones (or being in a residence where smart phones are present), or accessing the internet for years are, as has been noted, insane, and bespeak a fascist mindset. Moreover, we cannot dismiss a 90-day jail sentence as being only a wrist-slap. 90 days is plenty long enough for a young inmate--well, an inmate of any age actually--to be beaten or raped or gang-raped or killed by other prisoners, or abused similarly or in other ways by the guards. Our jails and prisons are torture regimes, and only those who are truly dangerous to society should spend any time incarcerated at all, where other, more proportionate punishments may be employed.

It is not overstating the matter one bit to point out that this boy's life is literally ruined.

Trashhauler said...

He's a male, which makes him potentially dangerous and eminently disposable.

n.n said...

Killing a viable human life for causes of welfare is normalized, while underage sex is rejected with an extreme penalty. Oh, well. Pro-choice. Civil and human rights have nothing to do with it. Sacrificial rites have their own logic.

Alexander said...

I like living in a society where we scoff at the notion that teenagers aren't having sex and where 'abstinence education is crazy'... but the same people we declare to have sexual agency must be protected.

I thought only Krazy Kristian Konservatives went around policing people's private parts, but I guess that's just because I remember talking points from the previous decade.

Here's another accurate headline: government decrees it is legal for fourteen year old girl to have sex, as long as government gets to play daddy and choose which partners are acceptable.

As to the commenter above who tried to whittle it down to toddlers, we all agree toddlers shouldn't be having sex, at all. We do not set gray areas where it's okay if a three year old has sex with a five year old but not a nine year old. NO SEX.

Either a fourteen year old girl is capable of consenting to a sexual relationship with another consentable person, or she is not. And if she is not, the schools, the government, the media, the pop culture, the smugfuck liberal talking heads... are all equally guilty of corrupting a minor with the notion that she can have sex, and anyone attempting to tell her that she can't until she is older is an unrealistic kook.

If society doesn't like the idea of a 14 year old girl bumping uglies with a 19 year old boy, then it should conduct itself in that manner all the time, not just when shock, horror! it shows up in the courtroom.

MayBee said...

Alexander- perfect

Joe said...

Why isn't the girl charged with statutory rape since the event happened because of her lie?

When my oldest daughter was 14, she could easily pass for 18, which scared the shit out of me. Had she been the liar in this situation, I also would have asked that charged not be brought/dropped.

MayBee said...

Browndog- awful story. Every so often stories like that break through the media and I think we are on the verge of getting rid of the mania that is the registered sex offenders list. But right now, the "RAPE CULTURE!" people have the megaphone, and rational voices get drowned out.

Alexander said...

Joe - because 'rape by deception' is only a VERY IMPORTANT MORAL PRINCIPLE when men do it.

MayBee said...

I want so strongly to support what Alexander said.

We don't live in a society that makes it absolutely forbidden and unthinkable for 14 year olds to be having sex. We actually, currently. live in a society where 14 year olds do have sex and, as Alexander points out, we are supposed to be be giving them sex education at that age *because* teaching them abstinence at that age is considered old fashioned and unrealistic.
So how can we make it such a punishable crime for someone in their peer group to have sex with them?

They either have the agency to have sex, or they do not. If they don't, then we should get society telling them that and make it very clear.

Jane the Actuary said...

FYI, it's not that hard to find commenters, and even authors, say, at Slate, etc., who don't really have any complaints about teenagers, high schoolers of any age, having sex, so long as they're IUD'd and have been taught about healthy relationships and consent, and, in general, the idea that Sex is Fun.

jr565 said...

"
No, the position he/she is defending is if a child can "choose" to kill her unborn child, she can certainly choose to have sex..."

Further if she's having an abortion SHE DID have sex already.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

When did 19 become the magic age to become a man?

I don't know. As long as the man is white? Eric Garner was an "unarmed teen," remember. Not a "man." And note that the "man" can't drink, though he can vote.

Fritz said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrG8eg_txJI

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

jr565,

Further if she's having an abortion SHE DID have sex already.

Yes! Which means that (e.g.) parents of the male involved who drive the kid across state lines to have an abortion so her parents won't find out are essentially sucking away the evidence. Of statutory rape.

It should be a precondition of any abortion for a female under statutory age in her own state that she reveal who the father is. And, yes, even if the father is her father. Or her brother. Or her uncle. These are all horrible situations, and I don't like the solution, but it's the best we've got.

(Failing this, have abortion clinics store aborted tissue from under-age-of-consent abortions. You can always check DNA later. But don't, for heaven's sake, let the kid get away w/o leaving some tangible evidence of the [would-be] father's identity.)

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

This is pretty basic stuff and there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with the verdict, except that he only got 90 days.

He didn't only get 90 days; he also got 5 years, and 25 years of life-altering legal consequences. And the 14-year-old girl is free to continue trawling the internet for older boys.

Rick said...

Althouse:
I read what the judge said and I don't see the problem. Obviously, the law against having sex with minors expresses morality and the sentence is premised on our ideas of morality. What are you calling "displaced"?


Problem 1:
This is what the judge said in sentencing, none of which is illegal:
___________
You went online, to use a fisherman's expression, trolling for women to meet and have sex with. That seems to be part of our culture now: meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this whatsoever.
___________

Problem 2:

The investigator seems to have invented inculpatory facts designed to lengthen the sentence. No effort was made to find out why or whether this is part of the "investigator's" customary practice.


___________________
Gardiner took issue in open court with the pre-sentence investigation, which a document a judge considers when issuing a sentence. Gardiner pointed out what he called incorrect information that was not attributed to any source.

The April 7 report describes, for instance, a police investigation about a suspect named Zach who had been targeting underage girls on the site.

"Zach was asking victims sexual questions, asking if they were virgins, asking for them to show him pictures of their private parts and indicating to them if they don't play his games or show him naked pictures of themselves, he will send naked pictures of them to all of his contacts," wrote the pre-sentence investigator, Joseph Tourangeau, recommending against HYTA consideration. "This information strongly suggests that this defendant has engaged in pre-offense, predatory conduct."

Police later said they determined Zach Anderson was not that perpetrator.

Tourangeau also wrote that Anderson had mental health and substance abuse problems and recommended a long list of suggested sentencing conditions "to punish the defendant, deter others from committing like offenses and for the protection of the community."

When Gardiner, the defense attorney, challenged the accuracy of the report on April 13, Wiley responded, "You mean what you're saying is that Mr. Tourangeau created this out of whole cloth?"

The investigator was summoned to the courtroom, and, according to the transcript of the hearing, Wiley postponed the sentencing "until we get additional information."

On April 27, Tourangeau did not attend the rescheduled hearing, nor had Gardiner or Assistant Prosecutor Jerry Vigansky received a new or amended report.

"Apparently the DOC (Department of Corrections) is not prepared to meet that challenge, so it'll be stricken," Wiley said, according to a video recording of the hearing. "Apparently there was some report somewhere that (the investigator) received, but apparently it has disappeared from the face of the earth, so ..." The judge did not finish the thought.
_________________

I think problem 1 shows a reason to re-sentence with a new judge. Problem 2 is a reason to investigate how this court operates.

Brando said...

Under these laws, two 14 year olds having sex with each other are both raping one another while being raped by one another.

These laws are madness. The only sensible solution is to treat all cases on a case-by-case basis. There are cases where it is obvious the child is too young to consent and is being abused by an older predator; there are also cases where it obviously is a consensual, albeit regrettable, encounter. The hard middle ground cases are for juries to decide after examining far more evidence than our legislators can account for in writing their laws.

Renee said...

But a 40 year old man who has sex with a 15 year old against her will as a trafficked prostitute get protected as a "john", but the minor gets criminal charges.

Michael The Magnificent said...

That's the problem with statutory rape laws--they set a rigid criteria that a 14 year old girl can have consensual sex with a 14 year old boy

According to a close friend who's a cop that works in MPS, if the parents choose to press charges, both the 14 year old boy AND the 14 year old girl can be prosecuted, sent to jail, and registered as sex offenders.

Regardless of sex, a 14 year old isn't old enough to consent, to anyone, of any age, of any sex, for any sex act.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Renee,

Yep. Obviously the problem for the male teen in this case is that he forgot to pay her. If he had, she would suddenly have become the criminal.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Michael The Magnificent,

Someone ought to tell the girl that, then. She's the one who deliberately misrepresented her age so as to get in the sack. I can't believe that she faces no charges at all, while the guy whose life she ruined has five years' hermitage ahead of him. TANJ.

Larry J said...

Michael The Magnificent said...
That's the problem with statutory rape laws--they set a rigid criteria that a 14 year old girl can have consensual sex with a 14 year old boy

According to a close friend who's a cop that works in MPS, if the parents choose to press charges, both the 14 year old boy AND the 14 year old girl can be prosecuted, sent to jail, and registered as sex offenders.

Regardless of sex, a 14 year old isn't old enough to consent, to anyone, of any age, of any sex, for any sex act.


And yet there isn't a day that goes by where this doesn't happen. That would perhaps suggest the law is unrealistic.

Alexander said...

A day doesn't go by in Baltimore without 25 people killing each other (pre-riot). This suggests a law that says you cannot kill anyone, of any age, of any sex is unrealistic...

You see this sort of shit all the time when the left wants to undermine an aspect of traditional western culture. You see, because no matter what the law is, some women will have abortions or some teenagers will have sex, the 'logic' follows that all laws on such subjects are, at best, pointless. Further is the insinuation that because they will do X when the law forbids it, clearly X is very important that they will risk doing it anyway. And therefore, the law is oppressive.

But this logic only works when its a progressive issue. Banning "hate speech" > free speech, for instance.

Course, right off the bat, you could probably cut down significantly on teens-whose-sexual-activity-you-want-to-micromanage if the adults weren't actively promoting the idea that teens can do what they want, and anyone telling them otherwise is an oppressor.

Or if you think it's stupid or creepy or wrong to worry about what a fourteen year old girl is doing sexually, then stop worrying about what a fourteen year old girl is doing sexually. But don't pretend you don't care and then ruin a guy's life over it when for a five minute window you decide you do.

Skyler said...

Chris wrote, "He didn't only get 90 days; he also got 5 years, and 25 years of life-altering legal consequences. And the 14-year-old girl is free to continue trawling the internet for older boys."

A 14 year old child is free to trawl all she wants. That's the law. It is the adult that she trawls for that bears the responsibility AS AN ADULT to not get trawled by jail bait. This is a basic part of maturity and everyone knows it when they become an adult. Failure to identify the person you have sex with is irresponsible and if you happen to "guess" someone's age wrong then you deserve every bit of punishment you get from the law.

Membership in NAMBLA, Chris, does not constitute an affirmative defense. Someone can want to have sex with 14 year old girls all they want, and they can pretend that the girl is old enough to maturely grant consent to having sex, but they'd still be a perv.

And this is not limited to men with girls. I've heard plenty of stories (second hand) of women who bedded 13 and 14 year old boys. They are just as criminally wrong.

Coupe said...

What I get from this, is if you have sex with a woman who is not your licensed spouse, that you should dispose of the body afterwards, in order not to live with lawyers for a year, and anal miscreants in prison.

Gabriel said...

@Skyler: Someone can want to have sex with 14 year old girls all they want, and they can pretend that the girl is old enough to maturely grant consent to having sex, but they'd still be a perv.

What if they're married to her, as your great-grandfather, or his father, which was the case for most of the men in your family line before 1950 when people married much younger?

It's ridiculous to conflate teens with children and accuse people of having a mental illness on that basis.

Teens are biologically adults and are often very hard to tell from legal adults. This is why teens on television are played by legal adults who are just a few years younger, and several inches shorter, than the actors playing their parents.

Alexander said...

Don't you go throwing around words like 'biology' when pointing out historical facts! Only liberals can use science, it's the rule!

Gabriel said...

Teens have led armies into battle, have sat on thrones, have raised families, have done a man's or a woman's day of work for thousands of years.

While frequently the full privileges of adulthood came later--see the US Constitution for examples--it's only in the last 50 years that they became children who suddenly, on one day of the calendar, fall off a cliff into adulthood with nothing in between.

Chris said...

A 14 year old child is free to trawl all she wants. That's the law.

The law in this case also allows for lenience. But you seem to think that the 19 year old boy got off easy. 90 days in jail is the (relatively) easy part; it's the 5-years and 25-years sentences that are harsh. Not to mention the non-legal consequences that will follow this kid throughout his life.

This is a basic part of maturity and everyone knows it when they become an adult.

That's a hell of an assumption. Is there some official ceremony of adulthood, where people are presented with a certificate of maturity, and given sex-and-consequences lecture? I'd probably heard the term "jail bait" when I was a teenager, but I probably didn't appreciate just how severe the consequences of statutory rape could be.

Membership in NAMBLA, Chris, does not constitute an affirmative defense.

Huh? What?

And this is not limited to men with girls. I've heard plenty of stories (second hand) of women who bedded 13 and 14 year old boys. They are just as criminally wrong.

Switch the genders in this particular case, and I still think the sentence is harsh.

Big Mike said...

In any case, what I'm trying to focus on here is how deceptive Reason's headline is.

@Althouse, I really don't care what you're trying to do. I'm personally appalled that the boy in question should have to change his major to something that doesn't involve the Internet (maybe something utterly worthless like pre-law, for instance?). That's way worse than 90 days in jail.

David said...

Actually, my headline is more accurate. Reason is deliberately trying to create the impression that 2 teens, equal in other respects, were treated radically differently because one was male and the other female. But if this had been a case of a 19-year-old woman with a 14-year-old boy and she only got 90 days in jail for it, we'd be hearing about how easily we shrug off predation by females.

Really? I don't think he got off easy, nor would I think that if the offender-"victim" genders were reversed. He got 25 years on the sex offender registry. That's 25 years on a regularly published list of shame that disqualifies him for numerous jobs and makes him a social outcast in many circles. This for having been deceived. Foolishly deceived for sure, but lots of deceptions are pretty foolish in retrospect. I think this is a very tough punishment, and would be tough for a female too.

A good rule is don't do hookup sex, especially with someone you don't know. But to criminalize that mistake with a 25 year attainder? This is just one more example of how crazy our punishment scheme has become regarding sexual acts.

David said...

The headline was deceptive, and stupidly so. So was the young girl. so In that sense the deceptive headline was apt. I'm sorry, but this punishment is wrong enough that it could have sustained an honest headline. The headline is the lesser scandal here.

Static Ping said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Let's all read Lolita again. Every underage girl who beds an older male is not a victim. The law says they are, but the law is a very blunt tool sometimes. Especially when the punishment is lifetime consequential, as it was here.

Static Ping said...

These days without Internet access it is likely he could not obtain any degree at all. I suspect there would be ways to work around it, but how many colleges would go to such trouble for a sex offender?

I think banning Internet access makes sense for some crimes like hacking or really dangerous stalkers, but in this case the Internet was just a tool. It is somewhat like being banned from driving a car because you drove a car to the place where you hired a prostitute, or banning reading because you learned how to do a crime by reading a book. It only makes sense in the most severe cases.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Alexander,

A day doesn't go by in Baltimore without 25 people killing each other (pre-riot).

Homicides to date in Baltimore in 2015: 136. Less than one a day, if that helps.

May the Lord send us smarter trolls.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

But if this had been a case of a 19-year-old woman with a 14-year-old boy and she only got 90 days in jail for it, we'd be hearing about how easily we shrug off predation by females.

But that's the point. He didn't "only" get 90 days for it. He got a probation that threw a monkey wrench into his college plans, and probably will drop him out of college entirely. He got a probation that requires him, for five years, not to live anywhere where there's a smartphone or an Internet connection. He's enjoined from talking to anyone whatsoever under 17, with a generous exemption made for his younger brothers. Speech verboten. And after the five years' hermitage is up, he still has two decades to go of Registered Sex Offender, a category that lumps him in willy-nilly with actual serial rapists.

And if this sort of sentence were handed down to the 19-year-old, comely teacher's aide who took a 14-year-old male (or female, for that matter) student to bed once, you'd be hollering just as I am now.

acm said...

Let's all read Lolita again. Every underage girl who beds an older male is not a victim.

---

Have you actually read Lolita? It's pretty clearly a book about a young girl who was victimized.

acm said...

As for this case itself, it's ludicrous that the offender was banned from the internet. He'd be better off in jail for two or three years.

Perhaps he should not be made to register as a sex offender; I lean toward the idea that he should not.

People arguing about how teens are allowed to have sex with other teens but not adults look ridiculous. Teenagers are going to make bad decisions. There's only so much we can do to keep kids from making the bad decisions with each other. We can, to a certain extent, prevent adults from exploiting teens' immaturity and poor decision-making.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

As for this case itself, it's ludicrous that the offender was banned from the internet. He'd be better off in jail for two or three years.

Of course he would. He'd have Internet privileges in jail. Also, he'd be fed (after a fashion), whereas if he's free, every appearance in public is fraught with peril, because there are children in public. And, once again, he can't just have everything delivered to his door by Amazon because, no Internet.

The one difference between this guy's state for the next five years less three months and jail time for the whole five years is the purely nominal one of "freedom." How free are you if you can't go to school, can't live except alone, can't speak to anyone who might (might!) be under 17? It's positively asinine.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

People arguing about how teens are allowed to have sex with other teens but not adults look ridiculous. Teenagers are going to make bad decisions. There's only so much we can do to keep kids from making the bad decisions with each other. We can, to a certain extent, prevent adults from exploiting teens' immaturity and poor decision-making.

You're wrong there. As Renee points out above, adults (real adults, not teenagers) are routinely allowed to stay in the background of prostitution/sex trafficking cases, where it's the under-aged trafficking victims who are in the spotlight, and the "johns" who go free. So our dude's error was not offering his "victim" money at the end of the "transaction." Had he done so, he would've been a "john," and she a whore. Since he didn't think of it like that, obviously she's the victim and he the perv.

In this case, we have a 19-year-old who thought he was contacting a 17-year-old. He was wrong, but the error wasn't his; it was hers. Who faked her social-media pages to misrepresent her age?

Gahrie said...

Homicides to date in Baltimore in 2015: 136. Less than one a day,

I sense a new advertising slogan...

Come to Baltimore, where we commit less than one murder a day!

Of course that would just piss Chicago off.

Brando said...

"Come to Baltimore, where we commit less than one murder a day!"

That's only because shooters are running out of targets. Sort of like when they overhunt the deer in a given area.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Enh, I was just trying to distinguish Baltimore from the pits of Hell. It's a very violent place, but "25 dead per day, every day" doesn't describe even Bosnia or Somalia.