Those who have sexual relations with somebody who has not yet reached the ‘age of consent’ are considered to have performed the crime of statutory rape. Depending on the state in which they live, different charges can be brought against them. Different states also call statutory rape by different names, including ‘sexual intercourse with a minor’. It is a very controversial crime, and many people – both those protected by and those charged with it – have criticized the law. Some of the aspects of the crime under debate include the relevance of someone’s consent, the age difference between offender and victim, the intentions of the ‘rapist’ and more.
Statutory Rape Laws
Statutory rape is covered under 42 U.S. Code Section 14016 – Enforcement of Statutory Rape Laws. Additionally, it is covered under the Violence Against Women initiative. This looks specifically at statutory rape by predatory older men, who often commit multiple and repeat offenses. Many states do not have specific statutory rape laws in place, in part, because there is widespread condemnation of definitions of it. These cases also often attract high levels of media attention, particularly when they take place between teachers and students. Interestingly, it is one of the more common rape charges for women to be charged with.
Statutory Rape Crimes & Charges
Statutory rape charges vary from one state to the next. Usually, they include a certain age range between the two parties. Furthermore, the perpetrator usually has to be over the age of 18. This age range provision is known as the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ provision. This is because, in the past, minors would be charged with statutory rape for having intercourse with another minor who was often just a few months younger than them. The age of the perpetrator can, at times, be used as a mitigating factor, therefore. In states where Romeo and Juliet laws are in place, consent can be an element of defense. This may lower the charge to a misdemeanor level. Some states also allow a defense of mistaken age to be a defense.
It is important to make a distinction between statutory rape and other forms of rape, including child molestation. This is because, in the case of statutory rape, there would be no victim if the party had been over the age of consent. The age of consent varies from one state to the next, but is usually 16, 17, or 18.
Statutory Rape Punishments
Those who are accused of statutory rape will usually be charged with a felony, unless certain mitigating factors exist. The sentences vary greatly depending on the nature of the crime itself. Commonly, they include:
- Prison sentences of at least one year
- Signing the sex offenders’ register for a set period of time, including life
Statutory Rape Sentencing Guidelines
In order for a judge to pass sentence on statutory rape, he or she must first determine the level of offense. This is usually done by looking at the victim’s age, and the difference in age between the victim and the defendant. Other factors, including prior offenses, whether any substances were abused, and whether a pregnancy resulted, will also determine the level of the offense.
Statutory Rape Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations on statutory rape is usually six years. However, certain aggravating factors can increase this statute to 15 years. The statute of limitations can also be tolled should the defendant be out of state or out of the country.
Statutory Rape Cases
- Kelsey McCarter, the 26 year old wife of an assistant football coach at South-Doyle High School has been charged with statutory rape over allegations of having sex with a student at the school. She has also been charged with exploiting a minor through electronic means. Her husband, who resigned from his position, is not facing charges. McCarter has been released on a $30,000 bail. The principal and assistant principal of the school were both suspended, but have not been charged. (Knoxville News Sentinel)
- 25 year old Clint F. Farnham, resident of Mount Hope Road, Tuscarora Indian Reservation, has been charged with statutory rape over sexual relations with a 16 year old girl. He has pleaded not guilty to statutory rape, criminal sexual acts, and endangering the welfare of a child. In the state of New York, the age of consent is 17, meaning that the girl was too young. Farnham has been released on his own recognizance pending procedures. (The Buffalo News)
- Willie Triplett, a 58 year old grandfather from the Mid-South, is facing charges of raping a mentally disabled child, who is his relative. He is also facing statutory rape charges and, if convicted, will spend between three and 15 years in prison. Interestingly, however, it is believed he will serve no more than three years, as is customary when the perpetrator is a counselor, coach, teacher, or family member. However, experts believe Triplett may be a sexual predator and hope that he will face more significant charges, not in the least due to the two aggravating factors being that the victim is a relative and mentally disabled. Unfortunately, the laws in Tennessee are said to be wholly insufficient, although new bills aim to change this and have so far passed both Senate and the House. News Channel 3
- Patrick Marquis Thomas, a 20 year old from High Point, is alleged to have kept a girl out of school and to have had sex with her. He has been charged with statutory rape, as well as with contributing to the girl’s delinquency. The girl in question is 15 years old. A bail has been set for $5,000, but Thomas currently remains in jail. (N&R Greensboro)
- Jadaveon Jones, a 17 year old from Wilkinson County, has been charged with statutory rape. It is alleged that he had sexual relationships at the Wilkinson County Middle School with someone who was under the Georgia age of consent. (I3 WMAZ)
Statutory Rape Laws by State
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming