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Sexual Predator Or Teen Indulging In Consensual Sex?

Sexual Predator Or Teen Indulging In Consensual Sex?

In many states, the law makes little distinction between these two scenarios.

Take the case of Ken Thornsberry, of Royal Oak, Michigan, who was an 18-year-old senior in high school when he was arrested for having sex with his girlfriend Emily Lester, a 14-year-old freshman, in 2004. The age of consent in Michigan is 16. He got sentenced to a year in jail and three years of probation.

The Daily Beast reports that when he got out of the county jail in 2005, he was 19 years old, and had a GED and a new job with his father’s contracting company. He stuck to his probation terms and didn’t see Lester. That lasted for the first few months, but then she contacted him, and he started secretly seeing her. Big mistake: the two teens resumed their relationship, which was a violation of his probation, and Thornsberry got another five to 15 years.

After spending more than six years behind bars, Thornsberry today must wear a GPS device that weighs almost a pound. The 26-year-old is also listed on the sex-offender registry, which notes his home address and other personal information, for 25 years.

All this for falling in love as a high school teenager and acting foolishly?

Parents Nationwide Rebelling Against Sex-Offender Laws

Thornsberry’s mother, Francie Baldino, outraged that her son was sent to prison for behaving like a “dumb kid,” is part of a burgeoning movement that has spread to all 50 states: parents fighting against sex-offender laws, which they say are imposing punishments on their teenagers that are completely out of proportion to the crime.

From The Daily Beast:

No one keeps a tally of how many cases fall into this category nationwide. But there is one measure of the scale of the movement: there are now more than 50 organizations—at least one in every state—battling against prosecutions like these. Baldino’s group is Michigan Citizens for Justice, which she says includes more than 100 parents. Another group in Michigan, the Coalition for a Useful Registry, has around 150 parents as members, it says. Organizations in other states report similar numbers. One of the largest, Texas Voices, claims some 300 parents as members.

Romeo and Juliet Laws

To address sexual relations in which all participants are below the age of consent, or which involve an offender close in age to the minor, some states have enacted so-called “Romeo and Juliet laws.” (You may remember that Juliet was a mere 13; Romeo’s age is not clear, but probably over 18, since he was already an accomplished swordsman.)  These laws carve out different treatment of statutory rape offenses involving individuals close in age.

Not all states have adopted “Romeo and Juliet” laws, and such laws operate differently in many of the states which have adopted them. In some states, they allow a defense against criminal charges for statutory rape. In other states, they shift the offense to a lower level, such as a misdemeanor. In some places, Romeo and Juliet laws reduce the level of punishment for the offense – imposing only probation or a fine, or eliminating the requirement to register as a sex offender, for example.

In addition, the age of consent for sex varies by state, between 16 and 18, so sex can be a crime in one state and not another.

50-Year-Old Molesting A 14-Year-Old Not The Same As 2 Teens Having Sex

So when does a youngster become an adult? In the U.S., a person can own a gun at 18, but may not be able to drink or vote until the age of 21.

But the bottom line is that the law needs to change nationwide, so that all states distinguish between a 50-year-old molesting a young girl, and two teens having sex.

What do you think?

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Photo Credit: marysmyth(NOLA 13)More Off than On

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125 comments

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5:44AM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

It is amazing that people think anyone of a certain age has no sexual feelings. I started having fantasies (albiet over cartoon and video game characters) when I was 11. Some "children" are ready at a younger age, and then there is the issue of sex as a fundamental human right. Denying passionate teenagers of this level of expression is stifling and detrimental to their emotional well being. To assume a 14 year old has the mind of a 8 year old. These poor people, how will the function? if I was told I could not have a relationship with someone I loved, that would traumatize me and make it difficult to for relationships later in life. Nobody should be afraid to make bonds such as this.

8:39AM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

hmm Care2 appears to be playing its usual happy games - will therefore finish this repost lol)
For example, (Canadian law) a 14 or 15 year old can consent to sexual activity with a partner as long as the partner is less than five years older and there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or any other exploitation of the young person. This means that if the partner is 5 years or older than the 14 or 15 year old, any sexual activity will be considered a criminal offence unless it occurs after they are married to each other. There is also a "close-in-age" exception for 12 and 13 year olds: a 12 or 13 year old can consent to sexual activity with another young person who is less than two years older and with whom there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or other exploitation of the young person. This sounds way more reasonable than destroying the life of a young man forever for being in love. You people who think he deserves what he got, disgust me with your gleeful, self righteousness. I hope we live in different countries cause I don't want to share my world with such small minded people. Remember that elusive concept, "common sense"? People try using your powers of reason(ing) - THINK -(normally this is the point where I say "follow the money" - cause that's the trail that usually leads one to whatever answer they are seeking - this time, how about we engage our brains before our self-righteous mouths and consider what really
constitutes a

5:02PM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

I lost my virginity when I was 13 years old to an 18 year old girl. Was she a "sexual predator"? No way, she was wonderful and I will never forget her.

4:22PM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

Period? Really? And you have the final word on this topic because?? I think that I will repeat my earlier comments which are just as valid as your own perhaps: I suspect that the age of consent is set so high, with no exceptions to make it easier to honor private prison contracts (most of which have a guaranteed 90% occupancy rate) Why do some governments make a set of common sense laws regarding young people having sex, which take into account various situations and circumstances of the people involved, whilst another (the USA) continues to impose draconian sentences which do not permit a judge to consider any mitigating circumstances? This strange urge which some people seem afflicted with, to control and micro manage other people’s lives by imposing their own (sometimes warped) values and religious beliefs on other autonomous human beings is appalling - and to defend such laws under the guise of "morality “or "the law is the law" lacks compassion and empathy both. This poor boy should never have been charged with anything in the first place. Who profited from ruining his life? (besides the prison) Does anybody actually feel any safer? Is anybody happy watching their tax dollars hard at work in this case? Ruining lives by adhering so rigidly to poorly written laws is sad beyond expression. The Criminal Code provides "close in age" or "peer group" exceptions.For example, a 14 or 15 year old can consent to sexual activity with a partner as long as the partner is le

4:21PM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

Period? Really? And you have the final word on this topic because?? I think that I will repeat my earlier comments which are just as valid as your own perhaps: I suspect that the age of consent is set so high, with no exceptions to make it easier to honor private prison contracts (most of which have a guaranteed 90% occupancy rate) Why do some governments make a set of common sense laws regarding young people having sex, which take into account various situations and circumstances of the people involved, whilst another (the USA) continues to impose draconian sentences which do not permit a judge to consider any mitigating circumstances? This strange urge which some people seem afflicted with, to control and micro manage other people’s lives by imposing their own (sometimes warped) values and religious beliefs on other autonomous human beings is appalling - and to defend such laws under the guise of "morality “or "the law is the law" lacks compassion and empathy both. This poor boy should never have been charged with anything in the first place. Who profited from ruining his life? (besides the prison) Does anybody actually feel any safer? Is anybody happy watching their tax dollars hard at work in this case? Ruining lives by adhering so rigidly to poorly written laws is sad beyond expression. The Criminal Code provides "close in age" or "peer group" exceptions.For example, a 14 or 15 year old can consent to sexual activity with a partner as long as the partner is le

2:49PM PDT on Sep 30, 2012

also.. 14 year olds are usually in 8th grade. MAYBE 9th. they cant understand the gravity of giving birth, or getting aids. you cant be "in love" at 14.. you arent even old enough to make any real world decisions. you arent even who you are going to BE yet. your just a kid caught between make up and pop stars. so he should have faced jail time. age of consent is 16. by law. for a reason. PERIOD

2:46PM PDT on Sep 30, 2012

but its case by case! my bf was 16 and In was 15.. he raped me at gunpoint. did terrible things to me. it was NOT consensual, but if someone had asked at the time I would have said it was, bc if he ever found me on my own after hed have killed me. it isnt always cut and dry. and some 14 year olds have only just reached puberty, its pretty gross for a 19 year old to be banging a kid that young

11:45AM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

In my book a 14 year old is not mature enough to consent to sex. The feelings may well be there but there's a reason we have age limits. As someone said: There's not many 18 year old men that would even think of having sex with someone as young as 14. And to have been released from prison and still don't get it, is plain stupidity. If he'd waited another year she'd been 16 and they could have been together. He also had a future to consider. He had a job and an education. What's a year in those circumstances? Besides he was then 19 and had spent time behind bars. To be willing to risk being sent back to prison just to satisfy his desires, is plain stupid!

9:10AM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

so, for the girls who "like" older guys. how do we tell them not "to be a tease", and teach the older guys not to take the bait? or just say "think of them as your little sister"

10:14PM PDT on Jul 21, 2012

"Conservatives do not understand love because they are emotionally impaired."

Apparently SOME liberals son't understand critical thinking, either. Otherwise Kasia wouldn't make such a blanket statement about millions of people she's never met.

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