Statutory Rape Laws

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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by The Wisp on Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:22 pm

Statutory rape laws need to be reformed dramatically. And sex-offender registries abolished, too.

ETA: I just looked it up for my state, which has fairly lenient "Romeo and Juliet" rules for consent. This teen wouldn't have violated any law here. That should be the standard everywhere.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by eselle28 on Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:02 pm

The Wisp wrote:Statutory rape laws need to be reformed dramatically. And sex-offender registries abolished, too.

ETA: I just looked it up for my state, which has fairly lenient "Romeo and Juliet" rules for consent. This teen wouldn't have violated any law here. That should be the standard everywhere.

I think this is a tad too controversial to be in a Rants thread, or at least I am going to have a very hard time not replying to it and suspect others may have the same reaction. Can it be split before we start debating public policy in a space where we try to limit rebuttals?
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Statutory Rape Laws

Post by The Wisp on Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:29 pm

eselle28 wrote:
The Wisp wrote:Statutory rape laws need to be reformed dramatically. And sex-offender registries abolished, too.

ETA: I just looked it up for my state, which has fairly lenient "Romeo and Juliet" rules for consent. This teen wouldn't have violated any law here. That should be the standard everywhere.

I think this is a tad too controversial to be in a Rants thread, or at least I am going to have a very hard time not replying to it and suspect others may have the same reaction. Can it be split before we start debating public policy in a space where we try to limit rebuttals?

Go right ahead!

Oh, and it turns out it would be illegal in my state after all, unless the fact that the girl lied is somehow relevant. I misread the chart.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by eselle28 on Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:44 pm

Thanks, appreciated!

There's a few things going on in your post, and I agree with some of them and disagree with others. I think the Sex Offender Registry is a tremendously unjust and ineffective policy. There are some offenders who can't be rehabilitated and who will always be very dangerous, and I think those people probably need longer sentences. As for everyone else, it only makes it difficult for offenders to reintegrate into society and tends to cause homelessness or crowd them into oh-so-coincidentally the poorest neighborhoods.

I'm also generally in favor of Romeo and Juliet laws, but Colorado can keep that 10 year age range to itself. Neurological research suggests peoples' brains aren't really developed until their early 20s, so I think setting the age of consent somewhere between 16 and 18 is already being pretty lenient. Romeo and Juliet laws add another layer of leniency, acknowledging what most people in society accept: that there can be healthy relationships between young people who are close if not identical in age that will probably involve sexuality. Like I said, I'm on board with all of that, but 10 years? No. A 24-year-old does not need to be having sex with a 15-year-old, and vice versa, especially since that age range is wide enough that people who are authority figures in the teen's life could easily be that much older. If society is going to make a bunch of exceptions to the hard limit for meaningful consent, I think it's perfectly justified in keeping the age difference at a maximum of 4 or 5 years.

This case? It's one of those tough ones where things didn't work as they should. The problem isn't so much the law as what sounds like a prosecutor who has nothing better to do and who doesn't value relationships with local defense attorneys. I'd honestly say this kid probably should get a slap on the hand, but there are ways of doing that without ruining his life.

The lying bit is a tough issue, because a fairly typical fact pattern in these cases is for a young person who's enamored with their significant other to be honest about their age with that person and to save their lying for their testimony. I would go as far as saying that if you ask for someone's ID and it's fake, that's a good defense, especially since that can yield physical evidence.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by Guest on Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:49 pm

The main reason why people resist the "she lied about her age" defense is that it's been used in really predatory and awful ways, especially for trafficking purposes. In a lot of cases, the girl doesn't want to press charges, even if it really is a clear case of exploitation, so if she lies in court to say she lied then, it becomes an automatic out.

I was reading stories recently about cases where people would bring underage girls into bars to troll for sex, because it gave the johns the out of "she was in a bar; I figured she must be 21." That's why the laws are the way they are. There's obviously a lot of room for improvement, but the answers aren't simplistic.

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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by Enail on Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:52 pm

I'm moving this to Gender, Identity and Society, because it's definitely about society, at the minimum. "I'm the butler, I like to keep the kitchen tidy..."
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by The Wisp on Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:59 pm

I pretty much agree with you on everything. A 10 year age range is pretty extreme, so I agree 5 would be more ideal. Though, to be honest, I'd rather have the 10-year range than no Romeo and Juliet laws at all.

eselle28 wrote:Neurological research suggests peoples' brains aren't really developed until their early 20s, so I think setting the age of consent somewhere between 16 and 18 is already being pretty lenient.

Do you think this is relevant because you think a person with a fully developed brain could manipulate somebody without?

eselle28 wrote:The lying bit is a tough issue, because a fairly typical fact pattern in these cases is for a young person who's enamored with their significant other to be honest about their age with that person and to save their lying for their testimony. I would go as far as saying that if you ask for someone's ID and it's fake, that's a good defense, especially since that can yield physical evidence.

That may be a common pattern. On the other hand, because girls can go through puberty fairly early, I could easily see a physically mature 14 year-old girl easily passing as a 17 year-old.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by PintsizeBro on Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:05 pm

The Wisp wrote:That may be a common pattern. On the other hand, because girls can go through puberty fairly early, I could easily see a physically mature 14 year-old girl easily passing as a 17 year-old.
Only until she opens her mouth.

Teens who are early bloomers might look more mature than their peers, but they are still young teens. There's a huge maturity difference between 14 and 17.

18 is legal everywhere in the US, but I've got to say I wouldn't fuck an 18-year-old now.

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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by The Wisp on Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:10 pm

PintsizeBro wrote:
Teens who are early bloomers might look more mature than their peers, but they are still young teens. There's a huge maturity difference between 14 and 17.

That's very true, though if you meet online and then meet up for a quick hookup, there's not a ton of socializing going on.

I guess I'm inclined to give this particular guy the benefit of the doubt as it seems like statutory rape laws seem to be abused a lot, especially with young men. But, that's based on my priors rather than this particular case I assume.

PintsizeBro wrote:18 is legal everywhere in the US, but I've got to say I wouldn't fuck an 18-year-old now.

And I don't think significantly older people should! I'm 21, and I'd be wary of somebody more than 4-5 years older than me trying to have sex with me, even!
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by eselle28 on Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:14 pm

eselle28 wrote:Neurological research suggests peoples' brains aren't really developed until their early 20s, so I think setting the age of consent somewhere between 16 and 18 is already being pretty lenient.

Do you think this is relevant because you think a person with a fully developed brain could manipulate somebody without?

My argument has two parts. The first part is that I think ability to make careful, thought out decisions about serious subjects of all sorts is a gradually developing capacity. If you compare it to intoxication, being at least in your early 20s is the equivalent of being perfectly sober. Not wanting to be overly restrictive on either slightly drunk people or those who might want to sleep with them, we tend to set standards for being too intoxicated to consent a bit more leniently. That being said, I don't think anyone thinks a medium drunk person does a better job of deciding whether they want to have sex, choosing sex partners wisely, and making good decisions about contraception and disease protection as a completely sober person does. I'd say the same thing of a 22-year-old having sex and a 15-year-old having sex, even if each of them is having sex with someone exactly their own age. It's more likely the first person is truly consenting. We can set the age of consent closer to 15 than 22 to give people some breathing room, but we're already allowing some borderline situations by accepting a 15-year-old's consent at all, and I think arguments about statutory rape should acknowledge that before pushing things a bit further and considering whether a 15-year-old should be having sex with a 22-year-old instead of a peer.

The second part is the healthy relationship bit that I think considers people's power within relationships. I think brain development is relevant to that, but are other things an older person can leverage like greater life experience and more independence.

eselle28 wrote:The lying bit is a tough issue, because a fairly typical fact pattern in these cases is for a young person who's enamored with their significant other to be honest about their age with that person and to save their lying for their testimony. I would go as far as saying that if you ask for someone's ID and it's fake, that's a good defense, especially since that can yield physical evidence.

That may be a common pattern. On the other hand, because girls can go through puberty fairly early, I could easily see a physically mature 14 year-old girl easily passing as a 17 year-old.

Some teenage girls can pass for older, as can some teenage boys. But one reason you're seeing this case make the news when statutory rape is a relatively common crime is that the couple met through Tinder, making it relatively easy for the girl to lie about her age. Most couples in these situations don't meet on the internet. They know each other socially. The lying defense is still widely used.

In any case, setting an ID check with a defense against that as the standard gets around all the debates about who looks how old, which would be horrifying to try to litigate.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by Caffeinated on Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:16 pm

eselle28 wrote:If society is going to make a bunch of exceptions to the hard limit for meaningful consent, I think it's perfectly justified in keeping the age difference at a maximum of 4 or 5 years.

I'd say 2 years maximum. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to date someone more than two years different in age when one of them is under 18. The differences in maturity are just way too big.

Granted, I don't really think there's much reason to date anyone more than about 5 years different in age for adults. Or, say, adults under the age of about 50. After that, I don't know, maybe you both have enough years under your belt that a slightly bigger difference doesn't mean as much.

The Wisp wrote:On the other hand, because girls can go through puberty fairly early, I could easily see a physically mature 14 year-old girl easily passing as a 17 year-old.

Sadly, it seems that there are far too many scummy men out there who think that a 14 year-old is plenty old enough to hit on regardless of her physical maturity or appearing older. Too many stories out there of grown men trying to sex up girls who are very obviously underage for me to really give much credence to the whole "I thought she was older" canard.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by BiSian on Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:25 pm

PintsizeBro wrote:
The Wisp wrote:That may be a common pattern. On the other hand, because girls can go through puberty fairly early, I could easily see a physically mature 14 year-old girl easily passing as a 17 year-old.
Only until she opens her mouth.

Teens who are early bloomers might look more mature than their peers, but they are still young teens. There's a huge maturity difference between 14 and 17.

18 is legal everywhere in the US, but I've got to say I wouldn't fuck an 18-year-old now.

Disclaimer: I recognize that I have worked with teenagers for years and have a higher than average sense of what teen development looks like.

I actually have a huge problem with this whole myth that young teenaged girls "look older."
No, the vast majority of them DO NOT. The vast majority of 14 year olds look like they're 14.
The problem is that we (general we) tend to equate having any type of secondary sexual characteristics (boobs, butts, etc) with "looking old enough."
A 14 year old with boobs still looks 14--there's just too many people who don't see that her face is very young, she has teen acne, no hips/pelvic development, a higher voice, to say nothing of her body language, word choice, who she's hanging out with, etc.

And that's not even getting into the problematic* elements of typecasting teenagers of color as being "more adult." I can't freaking tell you how many YOUNG (think 13, 15) black or latina girls I've seen assumed to be 18-25.

Speculation:
I think people don't honestly look at teenaged girls. They see what they expect to see--boobs or flashy clothing or piercings or "provocative" behavior and then assume that the girl MUST be "old enough." Add bonus points of not really looking when the girl in question is not white.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by reboot on Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:42 pm

Bisian, do you think that might be due to a societal tendency to see girls/women as an assortment of body parts rather than as a whole person? Because I have a number of teen relatives and work with high school volunteers and one would have to be willfully blind to see them as anything other than teens, even when they are full make-up and going out clothes.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by The Wisp on Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:45 pm

Caffeinated wrote:I'd say 2 years maximum. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to date someone more than two years different in age when one of them is under 18. The differences in maturity are just way too big.

Eh, that would make my brother, who was 2.5 years older than his high school girlfriend who was 14 when he was 16 when they met, a criminal (assuming they had sexual contact, I'm not 100% sure about that either way).

Bisian, that's a good point, and I'm probably ignorant about that as I'm really never around people under the age 16 these days (and then, only at super markets and such). Maybe if I was interacting with a 14 year-old directly it would be pretty obvious, physically speaking.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by eselle28 on Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:54 pm

The Wisp wrote:
Eh, that would make my brother, who was 2.5 years older than his high school girlfriend who was 14 when he was 16 when they met, a criminal (assuming they had sexual contact, I'm not 100% sure about that either way).

If I were writing the law, I'd say 4 years. That's a senior and a freshman, which tends to be considered on the edge of inappropriate by both parents and peers, or at least it was when I was in high school.

That would admittedly mean your linked example was out of luck, and honestly, Judge Eselle would give him probation, the same as I would if he was drunk and disorderly in public or vandalized something as part of a school prank.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by The Wisp on Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:55 pm

eselle28 wrote:
That would admittedly mean your linked example was out of luck, and honestly, Judge Eselle would give him probation, the same as I would if he was drunk and disorderly in public or vandalized something as part of a school prank.

Could Judge Eselle pevent his name from being put on a sex-offenders list (the article seems to indicate 'yes')?
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by eselle28 on Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:59 pm

The Wisp wrote:
eselle28 wrote:
That would admittedly mean your linked example was out of luck, and honestly, Judge Eselle would give him probation, the same as I would if he was drunk and disorderly in public or vandalized something as part of a school prank.

Could Judge Eselle pevent his name from being put on a sex-offenders list (the article seems to indicate 'yes')?

Like I said, I don't think there should be a sex offender registry at all. I don't think it works. If there has to be on, I wouldn't put this guy on it, though. I'd consider this to be a slap on the hand, "Don't do that, idiot!" type offense, and I suspect the arrest and the court proceedings are enough in themselves.

If a few years from now he had another mistake of the same nature, I'd be less tolerant.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by The Wisp on Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:01 am

eselle28 wrote:
Like I said, I don't think there should be a sex offender registry at all. I don't think it works. If there has to be on, I wouldn't put this guy on it, though. I'd consider this to be a slap on the hand, "Don't do that, idiot!" type offense, and I suspect the arrest and the court proceedings are enough in themselves.

If a few years from now he had another mistake of the same nature, I'd be less tolerant.

I was asking the spirit of "if there has to be one". I know you already said you opposed it.

And that's a very reasonable view and one I think I could agree with.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by readertorider on Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:21 am

I have a very difficult time judging people's ages (and people I meet for the first time seem to have trouble judging my age). If they're actually 4+ yrs older/younger I can usually peg them as older/younger than I am, but I usually have no sense of who's 40 vs. 30 or who's in middle vs. high school and I've mentored high schoolers recently Embarassed

Romeo&Juliet laws for people +/- 3 years seems to make sense to me. I feel like there's always going to be borderline cases (X met Y at older sibling's party and Y didn't think to ask ages), however, and that's why we have people and not robots in charge of our justice system. This judge though doesn't sound like he should be in charge of these cases:
"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."
Framing this as punishing a teen for 'inappropriate behavior' which is typically acceptable in adults seems rather ridiculous. Also is barring people from cell phones or the internet actually something that can happen in the US now? I thought it was one of the more unlikely aspects of Pirate Cinema Side-eye
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by BiSian on Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:10 am

reboot wrote:Bisian, do you think that might be due to a societal tendency to see girls/women as an assortment of body parts rather than as a whole person? Because I have a number of teen relatives and work with high school volunteers and one would have to be willfully blind to see them as anything other than teens, even when they are full make-up and going out clothes.
you
Definitely.
That's a very articulate way of phrasing what I was trying to get at.
A teenager looks like a teen (with rare exceptions). But people tend to see boobs+butt and that equals "not child" in their minds.
I'm pretty sure the whole dehumanization angle has an effect on the tendency to perceive non-white teens as older than they are--in direct blindness to how they really look!

I currently am surrounded by hundreds of not-white teenagers. Some of the girls have boobs, butts, hips, and wear tons of make up (which I'm supposed to make them take off but really I have so much more important things to be doing than policing their fashion choices). I'm being utterly serious when I say that only 3-5 out of the 300 15-16 year old girls looks like an adult.
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by PintsizeBro on Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:26 am

Regarding teens looking older, there are a few who do, but not many. Not too long ago I met a 15 year old boy (a high school sophomore) who told me he was 19 (and a college sophomore) - I believed him at first, he looked a lot like I did at 19. It was in conversation that I figured out he was younger, because while he might have looked 19, he didn't act it. But even genuinely looking older than he was put him in a pretty small minority.

I've also met girls who had D cups in 8th grade who very much looked their age. One tried to flirt with me at a wedding a couple of years ago, she definitely did not look older. It didn't occur to me even for a second to flirt back - not because of any laws, but because she was just a kid! There was no "close enough." I discouraged her as gently as possible.

I do think teens should be protected from being exploited by adults. I don't think teens should be punished for having consensual sex with other teens. Certainly don't charge them with production and distribution of child porn for swapping nude selfies! That's not protecting anyone from anything. I made a few attempts at expressing how utterly enraged I get at the thought of that, but I wasn't able to write that out in a way I was satisfied with...

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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by eselle28 on Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:51 am

PintsizeBro wrote:Certainly don't charge them with production and distribution of child porn for swapping nude selfies! That's not protecting anyone from anything. I made a few attempts at expressing how utterly enraged I get at the thought of that, but I wasn't able to write that out in a way I was satisfied with...

Oh, that's a different matter altogether. When the "victim" is the same person as the "accused," it's often bullshit, and it's even more egregious here since we're talking about children. Kids, even teenage ones, are kind of defined by having shitty judgment. That's why we don't let 12-year-olds drive or 15-year-olds join the military. Yes, they're going to use bad judgment about their phones, too, especially since so many adults do the same things. If it's just themselves, and not them harassing classmates, why not let it go and let the embarrassment of however adults found out about it be the lesson about either not taking pictures or being more careful about how they're stored?
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by Izmuth on Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:05 am

readertorider wrote:
Framing this as punishing a teen for 'inappropriate behavior' which is typically acceptable in adults seems  rather ridiculous. Also is barring people from cell phones or the internet actually something that can happen in the US now? I thought it was one of the more unlikely aspects of Pirate Cinema Side-eye

I think this can be framed as cruel and unusual punishment these days. I'm not even kidding.
He has to live in a home where there's no internet access or smartphone? Well, gee, you can't even use a computer then because open WiFi is everywhere. Your life is royally fucked.

And "can't talk to anyone who might be under 17"? Well goodbye jobs in the service industry. Oh, wait, you are registered as a sex offender for 25 years, service industry jobs were already out of the question Razz

I'm with Eselle, give him some sane probation so he won't do it again, but this is going way to far.

But I don't agree a reform of the laws is really necessary Wisp (except the sex offender list, because that shit just doesn't work and gives people a false sense of security. Most kids are still sadly abused by family), it's just you can't catch all the grey areas in one law, and the more closed off they are the more people (judges) feel like they can't deviate from it.

Sometimes a teen says they consented and the law must be able to ignore that because they seem pressurized, and sometimes they say they consented and the law must take that into account.

(@reboot,@bisian: As another POV, I'm notoriously bad at guessing ages of people, boys/girls/men/women alike, so I'm hesitant to agree there's only one cause people mistake people for older than they are. Might be a side effect of my disorder though, and since people generally are aware they can't guess ages they should just play it safe.)
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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by PintsizeBro on Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:01 pm

The thing about "probation so he won't do it again," that's all well and good if he actually did something wrong, but a couple of teens who are absolutely convinced they're in love? They're going to have sex again, and I don't think they should be punished.

I notice the conversation has also gone with the standard assumption that the boy is the older party, but what if the girl is older? Does that change things for you guys? Should a 16 year old girl get probation for having consensual sex with her 14 year old boyfriend?

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Re: Statutory Rape Laws

Post by reboot on Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:07 pm

PintsizeBro wrote:The thing about "probation so he won't do it again," that's all well and good if he actually did something wrong, but a couple of teens who are absolutely convinced they're in love? They're going to have sex again, and I don't think they should be punished.

I notice the conversation has also gone with the standard assumption that the boy is the older party, but what if the girl is older? Does that change things for you guys? Should a 16 year old girl get probation for having consensual sex with her 14 year old boyfriend?

To me a two year age gap is too small to be an issue, so no probation or anything, no matter the gendes involved. If it was, say, a 17 year old and a 13 year old, I would find that probation worthy. Older girl/younger boy, older boy/younger girl, older boy/younger boy, older girl/younger girl it makes no difference.

EDIT: It is really hard to come up with rules that make sense. For example, I find it ridiculous that an 18 year old would get in trouble for dating a 15 year old fellow high school student, but on the other hand, the idea of that 15 year old dating a 12 year old makes me uneasy for some reason
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