Consensual Sex is a Crime in Georgia

I used to make fun of Singapore for throwing a guy in jail for receiving a consensual blowjob (note that while the article says the woman was 16, that’s the age of consent in Singapore). Now Georgia has upped the ante on that bastion of enlightenment and freedom:

[Link] HUNSTEIN, Presiding Justice, concurring.

Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation based upon an act of oral sodomy performed on him by victim T.C., which was documented on videotape and seems to show that the victim’s participation in the act was voluntary. Wilson was 17 years old at the time of the act; the victim was 15 years old. Pursuant to the version of the aggravated child molestation statute then in effect, Wilson was sentenced to ten years imprisonment without possibility of parole.

Jessica covered the gender angle very well. Although most sodomy laws are gender-neutral – though at Lindsay’s party, Zuzu (or was it Scott?) talked about an old California ruling that a female-victim-only sodomy law was acceptable since men always wanted sex while women feared pregnancy – their application is anything but.

I suppose it all goes back to the sex crime view of rape. Treating socially unapproved consensual sex as aggravated child molestation is one side of the coin; treating real child molestation as mere socially unapproved consensual sex is the other. Hence, as commenter BEG notes, the Georgia court convicted even after concluding it was consensual, while a California court convicted and handed down only a six year sentence in a case of aggravated sexual assault after seeing a very brutal rape on videotape.

The civil liberties issues that are considered most important in the US are domestic spying and the civil rights/civil liberties fusion issues that are abortion and gay rights. But there are other important issues, too: the death penalty, obscenity laws, age of consent laws that fail to get that 14-year-olds have consensual sex all the time, the War on Drugs.

16 Responses to Consensual Sex is a Crime in Georgia

  1. SLC says:

    Voluntary has nothing to do with it if the woman was under the age of consent, whatever that is in Georgia. This is known as statutory rape which means that any sex act carried out on a minor is considered rape, voluntary or not. One can argue as to what the age of consent should be but the theory behind that law is that minors are not sufficiently mature to make a voluntary consent to having sex.

  2. Axel says:

    What is the age of consent in the US? 16?

    Seems to me that most European teenagers are criminals if US laws were applied. According to a new WHO report on sexual habits among teenagers in 26 European countries, the average age at which Icelanders first have sex is 15.7, followed by Germans with 16.2. Slovakia had the tardiest teens, who were on average 18.

  3. SLC says:

    Re Axel

    The age of consent varies by state. In most states it is 18 for both boys and girls but I understand that in a few states it is 16 for boys. There may be states in which it is 21.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    In Canada it’s 14.1 for males and 14.5 for females, and still conservatives want to raise the age from 14 to 16.

    In the US, the age of consent is usually 18, but sometimes 17 or 16 (in New York, it’s 17; in Georgia, it’s 16). Some states discriminate based on the kind of sex – it’s typically higher for oral and anal than for vaginal – but in light of Lawrence vs. Texas, it may be found unconstitutional.

    My point is that given that 14- and 15-year-olds have consensual sex, setting the age at even 16 is a violation of civil liberties.

  5. Bruce says:

    In Maryland it is 16 or 48 months less than the older sex partner to a minimum of 14, whichever is less. I think this rule is reasonably sensible.

  6. Axel says:

    Very, very hard to believe… So is it legal for doctors to prescribe the pill for girls under this specific age and does health insurance bear the costs? I ask because of the high teenage pregancy rates in the US. For comparison, the age of consent in Germany is 14. If both are younger than 14 it’s also not illegal because both are under of the age of criminal responsibility. Sickness funds pay the pill until the age of 20, for girls under 14 parents have to agree. Doctors are bound to professional discretion.

  7. Alon Levy says:

    Oh, it’s legal, and most states only criminalize sex if one party is over the age of consent and one is under. The absurd situation I write about the most is this of two high schoolers in the same cohort born six months apart; they can legally have sex all through high school, but in 12th grade, for the six months one is 18 and the other is 17, they can’t.

    I honestly don’t know about health insurance; all I know about it is that mine is horrible.

  8. Roy says:

    Actually, most states have 16 as the age of consent. Some states use “16 or 24 months” as the standard- Over 16 you can have sex with anyone else over 16. If someone is below 16, you have to be within 24 months of each other- so, 14 and 16 is okay, but 14 and 17 is not.

    Some states also have laws specifying a seperate age of consent if one person is “in a position of authority.” If your boss is 19 and you’re 16, for example, that’s illegal. 18 is usually the age of consent if one party is in a position of authority.

    You can see a general list of ages of consent here. You’ll notice that very few states have 18 as the general age of consent, although a number do list 18 as the age of consent for same-sex sex.

  9. zuzu says:

    So is it legal for doctors to prescribe the pill for girls under this specific age and does health insurance bear the costs?

    The pill is prescribed for a number of other things than birth control. Everything from cramp relief to cyst control to acne treatment. Plus, you don’t need to be having sex to be taking the pill.

    Let’s not confuse medical treatment of a woman with criminal penalties visited on others.

    It was Scott talking about the California law and its justification (at least until it was struck down). I brought up a case in, I believe, Utah, where a 13-year-old pregnant girl may be prosecuted for raping the 12-year-old who got her pregnant, because they fall into a crack between child molestation laws and statutory rape laws — they’re not old enough for the Romeo & Juliet exceptions to apply, but because she’s older, she becomes the perp.

  10. […] But it seemed to me that there was a deliberate avoidance of another issue: race. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone to find that Wilson is black. Eugene Volokh says that race was probably not a factor, since Wilson’s girlfriend is also black. But I’ll bet Volokh can’t produce a single white teenager who got a 10 year sentence for the same offense. It took me about 5 minutes to find another case of a black teen in Georgia sentenced to 10 years for consensual sex, but I still haven’t found any cases of this happening to a white teen (Alon points out that a videotaped gang rape by 3 white teens in California resulted in a six year sentence). […]

  11. M. Bennett says:

    The age various from state to state for contraception, but the laws regarding rape are inequitable, and statutory rape don’t necessarily track with minor’s access to contraceptives.

    In other words, the government has no qualms about supplying contraceptives to minors so they can have intercourse without the fear of pregnancy. However, the young man they have consensual relations with may still face criminal prosecution for having sexual relations with a minor.

    That is SOOOO WRONG on SOOOO many levels!

  12. M. Bennett says:

    Sorry about the typos, but you folks get the idea.

  13. Cindy says:

    I see multiple problems in the concept that a minor is not mature enough to consent to sex.

    First and foremost, Mother nature deemed sexual reproduction would start around the age of 12.5, a bit older for males. Being that females mature faster than males, it seems normal that her mate selection would be older. Needless to say, mother nature knew more than we and deemed teenage sex as normal.

    If we were to be concerned about pregnancy prevention, it would follow that perference would be given to the selection of older mates as they would be more responsible in birth control, as well as more capable of supporting offspring should that occur.

    If we were to accept that these minors do not understand the ramifications of their sexual acts, then it would follow that we should then be forbiding minors from engaging in sex. Statutory laws however, only forbid the teenager from choosing mates of a certain age.

    There is a presumption that an older person of x number of years has an exploitive advantage. This is not necessarily true, many younger are equally or more capable of exploitation. The laws should take into account the maturity and intellectual capabilities of each participant. There are many 15 year olds who are more mature than 21 year olds, they can as well be more sexually experienced and knowledgeable. The laws are based on an extremely week assumption that does not even have to be established in prosecution.

    If preventing exploitation where the goal, it would make more sense to establish laws against exploitation. Oh, but that has already been done.

    Another problem is that in all areas where behaviors are limited for teenagers, the teenager is held responsible for abiding by the laws, and his parents hold responsibility by being their legal guardian. In the case of age of consent, the participating sex partner is held responsible for the minors actions, and for the responsibilities of the parents which would be to ensure the minor obeyed the rules. For some strange reason, the minor nor the parent has any accountability at all. This is more due to the archaic orgins of the laws in which the desire was actually to protect the females virginity and maintain the value of her “dowery”.

    Above all, contrary to what laws state, parents and/or the participating minors are the determiners of whether age of consent law violations are prosecuted by virtue of the fact the minor has to appear in court to testify against the other. Thus the child’s sex partner is totally at the mercy of irrational, angry, retalitory, frequently irresponsible parents or lovers.

  14. AFRif says:

    Not bad, it really can occur

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    My name’s Rubin Hoyt and I’d love to discuss this further.

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