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Conversation 11 comments by 7 users
  • a7h13f
    +26

    As a society, it's time we found a way to protect children from sexual predators without punishing children for exploring their sexuality. I've seen too many articles like this, where people's lives were ruined by our justice system for a youthful mistake. The legal system has to keep up with the technology. Isn't one of the cornerstones of justice the concept that the punishment must fit the crime? How is it reasonable to force a teenager to register as a sex offender because of this?

    • Rothulfossil
      +14

      It's just absurd anyway to have the label permanently branded on your forehead, so to speak. Like you said, a "youthful mistake" should be seen as the law as just that. Society can't seem to get past seeing a person for who they were rather than who they are and that's becoming fatal as technology allows for more transparency.

      I've often said, "If I could go back in time and meet my past self, I'd probably hate him as recently as a month ago." I'm 22 and the rate at which my mind is changing has slowed. Between 18 and 21, though, I changed fundamentally as a human being probably as much as I did throughout all of my teen years. If my mistakes then still hung around like a cloud over my head, I'd have no hope of a future.

      One-time sex offender at 19 years old, especially under these circumstances, can't be indicative of future behavior. Even if this kid meant to have sex with a 14-year-old, he's young enough that he could be reformed. Stupid, stupid law.

      • a7h13f
        +12

        One-time sex offender at 19 years old, especially under these circumstances

        I think the law should absolutely be able to examine the circumstances and not just the crime. For instance, this individual is not showing a pattern of abusive behavior. As best as the article indicates, he had no ill intent. He found a girl who said she was older than she was on an app for hooking up, and hooked up with her. Obviously, we should still try to impart a lesson upon this young man about responsible sexual behavior, but this punishment isn't achieving that goal.

        A judgement that lasts a lifetime for a single incident should be reserved for the most heinous of offenders, not a young man who made the mistake of trusting the word of someone on a hookup app.

        This isn't fair or just. The punishment does not fit the crime, and even the word crime seems to barely fit in this situation.

        • Rothulfossil
          +6

          The thing is, the law can examine the circumstances and not just the crime. That's the point of a jury of peers and, ultimately, a judge.

          • a7h13f (edited 3 years ago)
            +7

            The law can, but too often it misses the mark. As in this case. We have these laws in place to protect children from sex offenders and predators. This young man obviously fails to meet that criteria. The problem is that this isn't an isolated incident - The New York TImes wrote an article about this in 2010, but nothing seems to have changed.

    • Liam
      +7

      I thought there was a clause for this sort of thing, but maybe I'm mistaken.

      Regardless - I'd imagine the problem comes from the way we perceive the two sides here.

      Lawmakers (and voters I suppose) don't like the idea of teens having sex in the first place. This is a scenario where, even though someone didn't do anything intrinsically wrong (had sex with someone 2-3 years younger), the "innocent" party still did something that people consider dirty.

      • a7h13f
        +9

        And I think that expectation that teens "shouldn't" have sex conflicts with the reality of the situation. Too often the same people enacting and voting for these laws are also in favor of abstinence only education, which has been proven to not be an effective deterrent for teen pregnancies. "Don't drive" isn't a useful piece of advice for avoiding automobile accidents. "Don't get on the Internet" isn't a useful piece of advice for avoiding computer viruses. "Don't have sex", likewise, isn't useful for teaching hormonal teenagers how to deal with their budding sexuality.

        If anything, creating a taboo around sexuality makes it more enticing to rebellious teens.

      • Havear
        +1

        You might be thinking of so-called "Romeo and Juliet" laws. Judging from this link he'd not qualify if they were in Indiana anyway, and from here it could be argued to be legal, though it depends on whether or not it affects someone who's legally an adult with a minor.

    • Kalysta
      +4

      I think one answer to this would be to form a sex offender review board tasked with approving everyone added to the list and tasked with reviewing everyone on it every 5 years or so to ensure its still appropriate for them to be on. We also need to tighten laws about who goes on the list. It does not help anyone, convicted or the public, to have statutory rapists and public urinators on the same list as unrepetant pedophiles and serial rapists. I also believe that any statutory rape conviction should be immediately reviewed by a team of judges from different states, since his personal beliefs about sex can so highly influence a judge's decision in these cases. Your life shouldn't be forever ruined by the vindictive parents of a teenager who gave enthusiastic consent.

    • blue2501
      +2

      The title is rather click-baity. A 19yo had sex with a 13yo (or 14, the article is inconsistent), who pretended she was 17. Sure, that might be two "teens" in the strictest sense, but the guy is an adult, and the girl is barely a teen.

      The age difference seems rather stark. No, I don't think the punishment fits the crime, but he should have also taken more care in making sure she was as old as she said she was. I can't think of any scenario where this kind of sexual consent gap should be legal.

      I do think there should be a bit more flexibility in that 18-21yo spot. There are still states (like California) that will put a 18yo in jail for having sex with a 17yo. That needs to change.

      • SFaulken
        +2

        @blue2501 Just out of curiosity, you've verified age on every partner you've ever been with? I'm far beyond having to worry about a potential partner being under the age of consent, but hell, I knew people in my teens that never got drivers licenses, and didn't have any sort of way to "prove" their age, short of maybe digging up a birth certificate somewhere...

        It's just not realistic, neither is just saying "Nope, nobody under 18 should be having sex with anybody"