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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Branded

This blog is about rights for consenting adults and makes a clear distinction between consensual sex and assault/abuse. When it comes to activity between minors, or people under the age of consent, the difference isn't as easy to distinguish, especially when dealing with younger children. In the US, the age of consent to sex varies from state to state. In some states, the age is 18. In others it is 17 or 16, some states with limitations about how much older the other person can be. How this works legally is that in a state where 18 is the absolute age of consent for sex, a 17-year-old is not able to legally consent to sex with, say, a 20-year-old no matter how intelligent, emotionally mature, and how attracted the 17-year-old is.



Most family therapists do no consider uncoerced, mutual sexual exploration between minors close in age to abusive. The problem comes when one minor does something with another minor who is significantly younger. So even though an 13-year-old may not be able to legally consent to sex with a 17-year-old, a 13-year-old can be held criminally guilty for doing something with an 8-year-old or a younger child.

I bring all of this up because of something I found at courthousenews.com, which asked, "Should Child Offenders Be Punished For Life?" By child offenders, the writer means "children who offend," not "those who offend against children." Sam Reynolds reported...


A girl who committed incest when she was 11 and a boy who tried to hug a girl on a playground when he was 13 sued the governor of Colorado, claiming that children who commit offenses should not have to register as sex offenders for life.
Plaintiffs A.A., D.M. and V.A. sued Hickenlooper in his official capacity, in Federal Court. They challenge enforcement of the Colorado Sex Offender Registration Act, which they say invades their privacy and does not benefit the community.

 A.A., now 23, "was eleven years old when she allegedly committed aggravated incest," according to the lawsuit. She was arrested 3 years later, in 2003, adjudicated delinquent, and released from supervision in December 2007, a few days before her 18th birthday.
My guess is that A.A. did something to a niece, nephew, or sibling (full, half, step, or adopted) who was 7 or younger, and that A.A. had been a victim previously.
A.V., now 28, was 13 when a classmate at his elementary school "accused him of 'always trying to hug her.' He was adjudged delinquent for criminal attempt to commit third degree sex assault," according to the complaint. He was sentenced to juvenile hall, served his time, was paroled and discharged from parole.

D.M., 51, was convicted of second-degree sexual assault in 1999. He was sentenced to 8 years probation and completed it, with sex offense-specific treatment, and his supervision was terminated in 2007.

All three plaintiffs are minorities. A.A. and D.M. are African-American; A.V. is Latino.

None of them have committed or have been accused of committing a sex crime since they were discharged from supervision, but all have struggled to keep jobs and housing because they are listed on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's public database of registered sex offenders.
One of these things is not like the others, to quote a television show I remember fondly from my childhood. D.M.'s case is nothing like the other two, unless "1999" was an error.
"Registering youth sex offenders, such as A.A. and A.V. is bad public policy, including the fact it overburdens law enforcement with large numbers of people to monitor, undifferentiated by their dangerousness," the complaint states.

This is why when I hear that someone is a "sex offender" I want to know what that really means. Adult siblings should never be charged with a crime for have sex with each other, and they are no threat to anyone else, unlike a rapist. A man convicted of paying for sex with another man is nothing like a man who molests prepubescent boys. I don't worry about living next to a man who, when he was 19, had sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend. Not all sex offenders are predators.

It will be interesting to see if anything will be changed. I don't know enough about children who abuse others to make a blanket statement about whether they should continue to be labeled or not once they have been adults and have not been caught abusing anyone for a long time.

The sexual development of a young person should not be traumatic, and should be free of interference from predators. My hunch is that minors are better protected when they are educated, and not shamed, about sexuality.
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