Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When children engage in sex, why are the boys charged but the girls aren't?

A disturbing story out of Oregon. An 18-year-old man is in jail, accused of raping and sexually molesting four high school girls. He admits to having sexual relations with them but says it was consensual. And he says the charges against him aren't fair: even though all the girls were under the age of consent when the alleged crimes happened, so was he. Yet he was charged and the girls weren't.

"And I'm engaging in sexual activity with students too young to give consent. Well, I was too young to give consent," he said Monday from jail. "So if I'm too young to give consent and they're too young to give consent, then who's the one who's supposed to take the blame for this?"

He says months went by after the alleged crimes happened, and he hadn't heard about a problem. After he turned 18, he says detectives showed up to arrest him at his work. He was fired. Walter says he's scared to be in jail, and he's worried that if he's guilty he'll have to register as a sex offender. And even if he's not guilty, the accusations will follow him for the rest of his life. He said he has been in jail for two weeks now and hasn't talked to an attorney yet.

This is all his side of the story. It is possible that he actually raped the young women. But if what he's saying is true, it is shades of Milton Academy, the infamous case out of Massachusetts several years ago. A 15-year-old girl engaged in group sex with five teenage boys in the boys’ locker room. They were 16. The boys, and only the boys, were expelled and charged with statutory rape, and the court ordered the boys to publicly apologize to the girl and her family, and to do community service.

Alan M. Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor and criminal defense lawyer whose daughter attended Milton Academy, said this: ”This represents the most senseless use of prosecutorial discretion I’ve seen in a long time.” He added: ”The idea that these youngsters should be branded rapists and the girl should be labeled a victim is preposterous.”

Read on only if you want to get your blood boiling. The 16-year-old boys read their apologies to the girl and her family, in open court, as part of their plea bargain. One boy read this: ”Not a day has passed since the incident that I don’t wish I had shown more respect for you, myself, and everyone involved. I understand that by taking part I put myself in a very dangerous situation with consequences none of us had dreamed of.” Another boy read this: ”Every day I am sorry, so sorry, for what happened. And every day I think of how hurt you must be and how upset your family must be. More than anything in the world I wish that I could turn back the clock. . . . All I can do at this point is truly and sincerely apologize for my actions and wish you happiness.”

The girl's family sat there stony-faced as the boys were publicly emasculated.