The Littlest Sex Offender

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The Salt Lake Tribune relates Utah's latest attempt to save the children:

Utah Supreme Court justices acknowledged Tuesday that they were struggling to wrap their minds around the concept that a 13-year-old girl could be both an offender and a victim for the same act—in this case, having consensual sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend.

The Ogden, Utah, girl was put in this odd position because she was found guilty of violating a state law that prohibits sex with someone under age 14. She also was the victim in the case against her boyfriend, who was found guilty of the same violation by engaging in sexual activity with her.

"The only thing that comes close to this is dueling," said Associate Chief Justice Michael Wilkins, noting that two people who take 20 paces and then shoot could each be considered both victim and offender. 

Here's a handy list of sex offender registries for all 50 states, catalogued under a banner reading "the life of each child is precious." For as long as these kids decide to live in Utah–or anywhere else that deems them sex offenders–they'll be treated as potentially dangerous. If they decide to move, the FBI will track them. In many localities, they and their families will face residency requirements. And no matter where they go, they'll be hostage to Foleyesque politicians with every incentive to stoke moral panic.

Whole thing here.

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  1. I spent a year of my childhood living in Ogden. I don’t remember it being a hotbed of child-on-child sex.

  2. In CT all sex-offenders, including those who did the nasty as teenagers, have to report for new digital photographs because the old ones are so bad. If they don’t show up, they will be arrested.

  3. I can understand why the police would get involved when a thirteen year old gets pregnant, but why in God’s name would the prosecutor go after the twelve year old who turned out to be responsible?

  4. Where is Jennifer? I seem to remember her regaling us with sorries of humping college professors when she was 14. Or maybe that was smacky. Or maybe I just made it up.

  5. This is only going to encourage teenage girls to become lesians.

  6. “I can understand why the police would get involved when a thirteen year old gets pregnant, but why in God’s name would the prosecutor go after the twelve year old who turned out to be responsible?”

    My guess? Each one’s parents insisted on prosecuting the other.

  7. F. Dan,
    You say that as if it were a bad thing.

  8. FinFangFoom:

    “I can understand why the police would get involved when a thirteen year old gets pregnant, but why in God’s name would the prosecutor go after the twelve year old who turned out to be responsible?”

    I believe the answer is in your post:
    “in God’s name”.

  9. Arensen: I’ll see you in Hell. ­čśë

  10. I think Robert’s guess is probably pretty close. , although I’d add that once the investigation began there was probably nothing the parents could do. The statutes are probably written so that charges must be filed in every underage sex case. Still, I don’t know how a judge or jury could let it get to this point.

  11. J Sub D

    Did I get my post on before you managed to say the same thing?

    Turnabout is fair play.

  12. I’d love confirmation that the parents masterminded the mutual prosecutions.

    Because two children sliding headlong into puberty, brains flooded with fresh hormones, genitals flush with strange and exotic sensations, and apparently left together alone unsupervised could not possibly willingly engage in sex without depraved and malicious coercion from the other partner.

  13. I like how every reference to this case states how the court is wondering how the girl can be a victim and offender in the same case, and then almost as an aside, says that her boyfriend was convicted for the same offense.

    Sure, no problem with the BOY being convicted and a victim. Even though he’s technically younger. It just shows how the whole female = victim, male = predator meme applies to us even when we’re children. Nice.

  14. If I was on the jury or either case and juries had the right to make comments to the court, I would ask what in the hell everyone was thinking. Everyone involved is trying to ruin the lives of two kids that even if they committed murder, are almost likely to be exonerated on the basis of their lack of moral judgement ability (or atleast used to be until people started convicting 8 year olds of homicide) This case is not worthy of judicial review and everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves.

  15. putting libertarianism aside for a second…it probably isn’t a good idea to let 12 and 13 year olds have sex…getting back to libertarianism it is a terrible idea to put 12 and 13 year olds in jail for having sex.

  16. joshua,

    you don’t have to put libertarianism aside to say that 12 and 13 year olds shouldn’t be having sex. But punishing them for doing so is no more the state’s business than raising them is. If state charges were brought by state prosecuters, theres something wrong, but more than likely its the dumbshit parents that counteraccused each other’s children. But in the end, its for the children….right?

  17. I see a trend in these ultra conservative states to restrict basic biology. Maybe they should just ban evolution and get it over with.

    I think one of the biggest problems with these types of laws are the unsaid assumption that humans are designed to be sex-free, as opposed to biological beings acting on the pre-programming of nature.

    As a bonus, another child gets added to the foster parent system because the mother is in jail for… creating him/her.

    putting libertarianism aside for a second…it probably isn’t a good idea to let 12 and 13 year olds have sex…

    I think I understand what you mean, but it seems to me that any type of governmental prevention would be worse than just leaving things alone.

  18. ellipsis

    “Maybe they should just ban evolution and get it over with.”

    The Onion already did that one:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/science

  19. I believe that joshua corning came out against the state punishing them. So why’s everybody lecturing him?

  20. Aresen,

    Yeah, I saw that posting, and my comment was a veiled reference to it.

    Thoreau,

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound like I was lecturing; only that I understand the initial repulsion at the subject matter, and agreeing that prosecuting only makes a bad situation worse.

  21. thoreau:

    because joshua’s post implied that libertarian philosophy includes the notion that sex between a 12 and 13 year old is a good thing. no one here or anywhere else, outside of a NAMBLA meeting said that.

  22. biologist-

    I just took his post to mean that, leaving aside the obvious libertarian point that this isn’t the sort of thing that he wants addressed by law, he still doesn’t think it’s a good thing and he thinks the parents should do something about it.

  23. getting back to libertarianism it is a terrible idea to put 12 and 13 year olds in jail for having sex

    I don’t see anything in the article saying that either of them is being sent to jail. But any conviction for a sex offense, even one without jail time, can trigger all sorts of nasty consequences that will dog these two for the rest of their lives.

  24. ellipsis

    “my comment was a veiled reference to it”

    You’re posting under Sharia Law? ;>

  25. libertarian philosophy includes the notion that sex between a 12 and 13 year old is a good thing. no one here or anywhere else, outside of a NAMBLA meeting said that.
    No one inside of a NAMBLA meeting would have said it either. It’s the Man-Boy Love Assn. not Girl-Boy or Boy-Boy silly.

  26. Damn. If I were living there and called up, I think I’d be seriously say whatever I needed during jury selection so I could make it onto that jury and refuse to convict.

  27. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t being a sex offender mean that these two school aged children will no longer be allowed near a school (or playground, or other children, or to HAVE children)?

  28. Still, I don’t know how a judge or jury could let it get to this point.

    Don’t know much about Utah, eh?

    you don’t have to put libertarianism aside to say that 12 and 13 year olds shouldn’t be having sex.

    I had sex as a 12 year old, and I turned out fine. No negative effect on my life, near as I can discern. Positive, near as I can determine. Of course, we didn’t get caught and prosecuted by some idiot zealot DA.

  29. Maybe they should just make parents (or other legal guardians) civilly liable for damages to the victimized child.

    In this case, each child could get a considerable sum from the other child’s parents, although that would probably mostly be a wash economically, but it would be a nice symbolic gesture to see the parents of the 13 year old girl be court ordered to pay $100,000 or so to the 12 year old boy (and vice versa).

    Way I see it, failing to control your children is a civil matter, not a criminal one.

    Look at it this way: no amount of criminal punishment for the 12 and 13 year old will deter others. However, and expecially here at Reason, I think we all know what reaction even the contingent threat of civil liability causes in responsible adults.

  30. Way I see it, failing to control your children is a civil matter, not a criminal one.

    Whoops, that is too broad. Should have said:

    –Way I see it, failing to control of like age from having voluntary sex is a civil matter, not a criminal one.–

  31. When I was 8 yrs. old, the six year old girl across the street tied me to a tree, then took off my clothes and hers and engaged me in some erotic play. We both enjoyed it, and grew up to be healthy normal adults;

    I am not saying sexual activity among children should be encouraged, but then don’t make such a fuss about consensual sex between pre-teens.

    Psychologists will argue it’s not a good thing, but how big of deal is it?

    In some cultures, girls start having sex at 13 or so, and other things being equal, so what?

  32. This is as confuing as prosecuting underaged drinkers as “Adult minors”. You’re going to be prosecuted for drinking….because you’re a minor. You’re going to be tried with full penalties….because you’re an adult, aka Not A Minor.

  33. * If the sex offender laws are kept, why discriminate? If sex offenders must suffer for life and be on GPS, so should ANYONE with a criminal record. If this is not done, then it is discrimination. Anyone with a criminal record should be on a registry on the internet for the whole world to see, and be on GPS for life. DUI offenders should not be able to live XX feet from an alcohol store and should have their license revoked. Drug dealers should not be able to live XX feet from anywhere children congregate, so they cannot sell our kids drugs. Murderers should not be able to life XX feet from ANYONE, since they may kill again. DUI offenders kill more people than any other crime (I believe), and I’m sure the entire public would love to know if a murderer, thief, drug dealer, etc lives in their neighborhood. If all this was on the internet for all to see, I’m sure everyone would NOT leave their house at all. These people are everywhere. Why are sex offenders being “scape goated”? EVERYONE WITH A CRIMINAL RECORD SHOULD OBIDE BY THE SAME LAWS SEX OFFENDERS HAVE TO OR IT’S DISCRIMINATION!!

    * “Buffer Zones” are a false sense of security!

    * “Buffer Zones” are banishing people from their town, state, and possibly the country!

    * “Buffer Zones” create homelessness, which costs society lost productivity, individual dignity, and creates additional problems for enforcing any accurate registry!

    * “Buffer Zones” do nothing, except banish! If someone wanted to re-offend, they’d just get in a car and drive!

    * These laws protect nobody!

    * “Stranger Danger” is a smoke screen & hype! Most child sexual offenses occur by someone the child knows, like a family member or close friend!

    * These laws are being passed by politicians using sex offenders as scape goats, for votes!

    * Registries do NOT protect anyone or prevent crimes!

    * Registries are punishing sex offenders as well as their families and children, and opening them up to vigilantism. DON’T THE FAMILIES AND CHILDREN OF SEX OFFENDERS COUNT? They are suppose to be “for the children”, right?

    * Registries are NOT being updated in a timely fashion, so the public is getting false information! How is this helping the public or protecting them when they cannot rely on them?

    * Registries are putting families and children of sex offenders in a public position to be socially outcast and discriminated against with regard to employment, housing, schooling, etc!

    * About 90% of the people on the registry are NOT sexual predators or pedophiles that these laws were for in the first place!

    * These laws cost millions, if not billions to enforce, and they cause prison over-population, which is already a problem, especially in California! AND TAX PAYERS PAY FOR ALL THIS!

    * GPS does not prevent sexual crimes! Another false sense of security which cost tons of money! Plus they are suppose to pay for this, which will eventually go homeless. MAKE THE TAX PAYERS WHO WANT THESE LAWS TO PAY FOR THEM!

    * These laws cause sex offenders to go underground and into hiding, due to the strict nature of the laws! How is this protecting anyone?

    * These laws are all abount money for law enforcement and votes for politicians. Prison is a business! Politicians are salaried and want elected/re-elected! Law enforcement get paid for people in jails, prisons or on the registry!

    * These laws blatantly disregard the United States constitutional rights of all citizens! (i.e. ex-post facto, due process & others)

    * These laws are cruel and unusual punishment! A sex offender cannot go to a fast food restaurant which has a playground! Why? We have just as must of a right as you to get a burger! Plus they cannot go anywhere kids congregate, which is endless (i.e. Amusement parks, Movie theaters, the list is endless)

    * Sex offenders can go to church, but must leave immediately afterwards. If a sex offender owns a business and someone decides to put a church or school next door, they have to now sell their business and move. This is not right, move the church or school, the sex offender was there first!

    * These laws continue to punish people even after a sentence has been served, and they are trying to get on with their lives! (i.e. ex-post facto)

    * These laws are driven by fear-mongering, opportunistic politicians and will do nothing to actually protect children!

    * There are over one million women and children whose lives are inter-twined with a sex offender in the United Stated. They should matter too!

    * Follow the money trail, these laws are conveyor-belt laws to benefit law enforcement! They get paid for the number of people in jail, prison or on the registry!

    * They are currently a one-size-fits all for sex offenders! Not all sex offenders are predators or pedophiles that these laws are suppose to be for anyway!

    * They are modern day witch hunts and a scarlett letter!

    * If Sex Offenders are re-offending, why does the registries grow each day? Because new people are being added daily for stuff like “public urination”, “mooning”, “concensual sex”, “young children playing ‘Doctor'” and various other minor offenses that we need not worry about. We need to worry about predators & pedophiles!

    * Now they are trying to make it a law that a sex offender, if they have kids, cannot “take a picture” of anyone under 18. This is totally stupid! Can’t even take Christmas pictures, birthday pictures, etc!

    * Also, because a sex offender owns a business in town, many people are trying to get the business shut down! The sex offender had the business for awhile. If you don’t like it, MOVE!!!!

    * The Nazi’ did this back when Hitler was in power, with the Jews, Turks, etc.

    * The thing about pedophiles not being able to take pictures of kids is stupid. You’d better shred any pictures you have of your kids when they were babies, like diaper changing, baths, etc, it may be seen as porn!

    Links:
    * http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm
    * http://sexoffenderinfo.pbwiki.com
    * http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/

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