News

14yo faces sex offender label after sex with 12yo girlfriend

A 14-YEAR-OLD boy may be labelled as a sex offender for life after being arrested for having sex with his 12-year-old girlfriend - a "really sick" possibility, according to his family.

The unidentified seventh-grader has been charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child in Harris County, Texas, despite a law that exempts some teens from being classified as sex offenders for having consensual sex with someone within three years of their age.

For instance, the so-called "Romeo and Juliet" law allows a 17-year-old to legally have sex with a 14-year-old. But that rule doesn't apply if one of the parties is under 14 years of age, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"He had consensual sex with his little girlfriend and he loved her," the teen's mother told the newspaper. "And because he turned 14, they want to make him a sex offender, put him on the registry with paedophiles and child molesters - really sick and dangerous people."

The boy's lawyer said his client wouldn't be facing charges and the possibility of registering as a sex offender had the teens been the same age, and he would be seen as the victim under the letter of the law if the other person was 18 or older.

"It defeats the whole purpose of the Romeo and Juliet defence where you have two people relatively close in age and maturity," said the boy's lawyer, Joseph Gutheinz.

"You would think the law would be more sympathetic as you go younger, because both parties are immature."
Attorneys in Texas said charges filed in connection to a consensual sexual relationship between minors aren't rare in Harris County.

"I had that exact fact pattern that I fought for a year," said Jackie Stewart Gravois, an lawyer for the Harris County Public Defender's Office. "They ended up dismissing it because, ultimately, everyone agreed it was a consensual act."

Prosecutors in that case were assured there was no violence or threat of force between the students, who were also in junior high at the time, Gravois said. She said similar cases have seemingly been on the rise lately.

"Usually, if the prosecutors can prove that it was consensual and it was not forced in any way, they typically don't file these cases or they end up dismissing them," she said. "That's going to be up to the discretion of the prosecutor."

The Harris County District Attorney's Office did not return calls for comment, the Chronicle reported.

But juvenile judges in Harris County "very rarely" order teens to register as a sex offender, Gravois said.

"They usually delay it and send them to sex offender treatment and then make a decision," she told the newspaper.

Another lawyer for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, which wants to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Texas, said he's aware of several Houston teens facing criminal charges for having sex with tweens.

"That's the arbitrary nature of our sexual offence laws," lawyer Jay Jenkins said. "There's very little rationality to those laws."

The teen's mother, meanwhile, said her family is "going through hell" as the case unfolds.

"Because he was 14 by two months, they want to ruin his life," she told the Chronicle. "What kind of life is he going to have if he's a sex offender?"

This article originally appeared on The New York Post.

News Corp Australia

Topics:  editors picks parenting sex sex offender tween


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Sandgate Zonta celebrates exceptional women

Alainya Doyle won the Zonta Club of Sandgate's annual Young Women in Public Affairs award.

Three women receive awards at Sandgate Zonta Club event

LETTER: Community consultation sought on pool upgrade

The kids area at Sandgate Aquatic Centre is being upgraded, with the wading pool being transformed into an interactive all-abilities water play area. Brighton resident Dean Gibson is calling for community consultation for any future upgrade of the centre.

Ideas sought for Sandgate Aquatic Centre upgrade

Stall holders sought for Einbunpin Festival

The Bunpin has emerged from the lagoon to encourage people to get in their applications for stalls at the annual Einbunpin Festival to be held on July 30.

Planning underway for Einbunpin Festival on July 30

Local Partners

Bald Hills school makes finals of reconciliation awards

Bald Hills State School is a finalist in the Queensland Reconciliation Awards for the second year.

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

What public holidays are left in 2017

Ipswich residents will get the day off tomorrow for the show.

IPSWICH residents will get tomorrow off for the show

Petula Clark delighted to sing live for Australian fans

STILL TOURING: English singer Petula Clark is coming to Queensland.

English star Petula Clark still puts on a great show, even at 84.

Shot at the live shows slips through Sally's fingers

SUNSHINE Coast singer's dramatic elimination from The Voice nearly saw her form a duo with her battle round opponent.

Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor split after 17 years

They were married in May 2000 and have two children, who they said will remain their priority.

Ben Stiller and his wife Christine Taylor have called it a day

Why The Voice hasn't produced a star

Boy George responds to Brittania Clifford-Pugh's heart-warming message.

It's the industry, not the show, says Boy George

These actors hated their movies and didn’t mind admitting it

Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans in a scene from GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Every year, Hollywood blesses us with plenty of God awful movies.

Miranda Kerr and fiance hang up backyard tent for wedding

The decorators and caterers are arriving for the final preparations for the wedding of Miranda Kerr and Evan Spiegel. Pictures: Splash

Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr are set to marry today

Book review: Mia Freedman's book meets her critics head on

I appreciated Freedman's blunt honesty in the book