Crime

Honey, Remember Our First-Time Offense?

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This 20/20 story aired a couple weeks ago, but I missed it: John Stossel tells the tale of a Texas man condemned to a life of stigmatization as a "sex offender," lumped in with child molesters and serial rapists, because he had consensual sex with his not-quite-16-year-old girlfriend when he was a 19-year-old high school senior. A state legislator defends the registration requirement for a man whose "victim" is now his wife, saying the law is the law, we're a nation of laws, and too many people in America expect a second chance when they do something wrong.

More on sex offender registration requirements and residence restrictons here, here, and here.

[Thanks to Veronique de Rugy for the tip.]

NEXT: Some Movement in Mississippi

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  1. Serves him right for having pre-marital sex.

    These sex offender registries are doing the FSMs work.

    </snark>

  2. Tautology is a suprisingly popular defense of such laws these days… The law is the law begs the question what about the content of the law?

  3. The fact that we are a nation of laws, and the government can’t simple ignore them when they feel like it, means that legislators have a GREATER RESPONSIBILITY to reform and repeal bad laws like this.

    So, no, Mr. Legislator (from the Latin for “law-maker”), you really don’t get the pass the buck here.

    Do your job.

  4. Doesn’t even take sex to get the book thrown at you in that manner… went to high school with somebody whose girlfriend’s parents pressed charges against him because he was making “inappropriate contact”. He was 18, she a couple months from turning 16… so, as a result, they did what any rational, law-abiding society would do in such a case…

    …they convicted him of 4th-degree CSC and he’s a registered sex offender for life.

    Somewhere, Draco is smiling.

  5. gorak,
    reminds me of the all too common “the first word in illegal alien is ILLEGAL!” argument.

  6. too many people in America expect a second chance when they do something wrong.

    That may be true, but does that preclude those who really deserve a second chance from getting one? That’s if you even think this guy did something wrong, but 19 and 16, especially when both are still in high school, does not seem wrong to me. Unless of course the legislator was talking about himself? Admitting he was wrong, and saying that because too many people think they are entitled to a second chance when they’re wrong we just can’t let them have it? Doesn’t really work. It’s a shame, and it seems like it will take something like that guy’s son getting branded a sex offender for having high school sex to make him see how stupid it is.

  7. I bet Radley Balko would approve, being the pig/antichrist that he is.

  8. Is anyone else seeing ads for “Teen forums” on the linked pages?

    man, that’s disturbing.

  9. Serves him right for having pre-marital sex.

    Similar to how being arrested for using drugs is used as an example of “how drugs can ruin your life”, the risk of landing on the a sex offender registry can be used as a argument against having non-marital sex.

  10. CMX – That link is hysterical. Really.

  11. Or CMS

  12. More on Moron sex offender registration requirements and residence restrictons here, here, and here.

    Simple typo.

  13. CMS, Radley should take pride in the comments section of that post. His efforts are obviously well known outside H&R and Agitator circles.

  14. Any Boortz listener notice how Neal brings up the “this is a nation of laws” argument only selectively?

  15. If only Spitzer had banged a whore 1 day shy of her [insert NY statutory rape age here] birthday. There’s no way he would allow himself to be registered as a sex offender, blowing the whole thing wide open.

  16. There oughtta be a doofus registry in your country, except that I do not think any hard drives exist with sufficient memory capacity to handle the load.

  17. The key word here is “consensual” — to my understanding, a 15-year old person (of either sex) can NOT give consent. Consent can only be given by person who has attained the age of majority — usually 18, I suspect, but in certain cases 17 or even 16. But until that person has reached the age of “consent,” then it doesn’t matter if she/he said yes or hell yes or YES! — that underage person is not legally capable of giving consent.

  18. david: that may be what the law says but it’s stupid and wrong.

    As joe said:

    The fact that we are a nation of laws, and the government can’t simple ignore them when they feel like it, means that legislators have a GREATER RESPONSIBILITY to reform and repeal bad laws like this.

  19. that underage person is not legally capable of giving consent.

    Yes, david, we all understand the legal rationale behind the statutory rape laws and the technical violation of them in this case. But, if you’re simply repeating the legislator’s point that “the law is the law” it isn’t very helpful to getting at the underlying issues of justice and fairness of the law, especially with respect to the sex-offender registry.

    Clearly we all recognize there is a difference between two high school students getting it on and some creepy uncle molesting his niece. Applying a bright-line standard that doesn’t recognize the difference is unjust. Compounding that injustice by labeling the guy a sex-offender for life, with all the difficulties and stigma that come with it, is absurdly unjust.

  20. “””The key word here is “consensual” — to my understanding, a 15-year old person (of either sex) can NOT give consent.”””

    I bet the cops argue differnetly when they they ask a 15 year old for consent for their ends.

  21. TrickyVic,

    I bet your right. Wonder how many kid answering the door have “consented” to let the cop in and/or search.

  22. too many people in America expect a second chance when they do something wrong.

    He’s right, you know. See: public officials.

  23. Didn’t see ’til I got home that the TX legislator that is in the story is douchebag named Dan Patrick. He likes to pull stunts like trying to ban abortion, make being an illegal alien a state crime, etc. He has a radio station in Houston, and used that to convince the same moron voters that elected Tom DeLay over and over to send him to the state Senate.

    I should have known it was that shameless dickhead.

  24. “””The key word here is “consensual” — to my understanding, a 15-year old person (of either sex) can NOT give consent.”””

    I bet the cops argue differnetly when they they ask a 15 year old for consent for their ends.

    I’m sure that ya 15 year old can consent to a search, an interrogation, etc.

  25. Our local cops always charge 17-year-olds as adults when they bust them for possession. Names in the newspaper, and all that.

    We recently had a 26-year-old female school teacher (at a Christian school, no less) caught humping a 17-year-old male student. The cops wouldn’t release his name because he was a child, ya know. Now the teacher is facing a sex offender rap.

  26. A state legislator defends the registration requirement for a man whose “victim” is now his wife, saying the law is the law, we’re a nation of laws, and too many people in America expect a second chance when they do something wrong

    He’s probably just pissed ’cause he never got that lucky at that age. Dan Patrick is a self-righteous, sanctimonius puke from way, way back. He used to be the sports commentator on one of the local television stations in Houston. From there he went on to radio. Bought a local small town station and used it to break into the larger Houston metropolitan market, promptly forgetting the small town that the license was meant to serve. He converted it to a news, sports, business, talk station and eventually acquired a second old-time station. Apparently things didn’t work out financially, because Clear Channel ended up with the second station and Patrick changed the original station’s format to Christian Conservative talk radio after “finding God” and being “born again”. Using that persona he then launched himself into politics. I can’t stand to even listen to that strident loudmouth’s voice.

  27. I don’t know if it was true, but in the ’50s my civics book said that if two minors the same age got caught having sex the guy could be charged with statutory rape.

  28. Yes, George, it was most definitely true – depending on the particular state, of course.

  29. and too many people in America expect a second chance when they do something wrong.

    Ah, yes. The quintessential “Christian.” (God, how I despise hypocrites.)

  30. The legislator did a great job making himself look like a complete totalitarian scumbag.

    I wish more would take that absurd hard line he did and show this position to absurd and indefensible.

  31. Quality goes down hill at 2am 🙂

    I wish more would take the same hard line he did and show just how absurd and indefensible this position is.

  32. Serves the dude right for dating a girl in our class. What’s the matter with him that no Senior girl will go out with him?

    If I had my license and a car, she’d have totally gone out with me, anyway.

  33. We recently had a 26-year-old female school teacher (at a Christian school, no less) caught humping a 17-year-old male student.

    I am outraged! Where were these teachers when I was in high school?
    *sulking* Other guys have all the fun.

  34. J sub D,

    Agreed. I can only think of one teacher in my high school who was under 35, and it was a dude.

  35. that underage person is not legally capable of giving consent.

    Yes, david, we all understand the legal rationale behind the statutory rape laws and the technical violation of them in this case.

    I don’t think that you do understand, or you would not call it “consensual sex”. Call it non-forced sex or something else, but it certainly was not consensual.

  36. I don’t think that you do understand, or you would not call it “consensual sex”. Call it non-forced sex or something else, but it certainly was not consensual.

    Well, yes I do understand, thank you. Unless your use of the language is so constrained as to only allow the use of technical legal definitions when discussing an issue, there is nothing wrong with calling the sex in this case consensual. In other words, “consent” has a non-legal meaning beyond the courtroom and it is perfectly reasonable to look at the facts of this case and conclude that the sex was indeed consensual in the normal, non-legal, usage.

    As an example, it isn’t necessary that a court find each element of common-law negligence to be present in order to correctly use that term in discussing someone’s behavior.

  37. Roger,
    Do we really need to sculpt our language to fit silly legal fictions?

    You might notice that some of us don’t always play make-believe just because some legislature or court has declared new definitions for common words. Some of us don’t pretend that home-grown dope consumed by the grower has anything to do with interstate commerce, even though 6 jackasses in black robes have declared that it does.

    Apparently, this legal fiction that those under the age of 17 are incapable of consenting to sex in Texas is belied by an affirmative defense in the statute in question:

    (b) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the actor:
    —(1) was not more than three years older than the victim and of the opposite sex;
    —(2) did not use duress, force, or a threat against the victim at the time of the offense; and
    —(3) at the time of the offense:
    ——-(A) was not required under Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure, to register for life as a sex offender; or
    ——-(B) was not a person who under Chapter 62 had a reportable conviction or adjudication for an offense under this section.

    If it was absolutely, positively non-consensual, then how could any legislature that gives the slightest damn for children leave that kind of out in the law? I notice that the wording is a little clunky. I wonder if it has successfully been used to defend a 17 year old who has diddled a 14 year old while she slept or was otherwise in a condition not requiring duress, force, or threat? After all, the law is the law.

  38. Stooby, the meaning of consent is not new. It goes back 100s of years. And it is not an affirmative defense in Texas.

  39. Joe’s post hit the nail on the head.

    Roger missed the point entirely – the problem with this case the government coming up with an illogical definition of consent. Thats the whole point.

  40. But until that person has reached the age of “consent,” then it doesn’t matter if she/he said yes or hell yes or YES! — that underage person is not legally capable of giving consent.

    Yes it is true that the law presumes that a 15.75-year-old girl is incapable of giving consent to intercourse with her 19-year-old boyfriend, but the law is an ass, an idiot.

  41. ive read through the comments and i haven’t really seen anything about jury rights and why they exist so heres two sources.

    http://www.levellers.org/jrp/

    http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/7006/rulebook.html

    jurors are above the law.

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