At least six Houston area women have been charged in recent months with sexual crimes involving underage boys, says the Houston Chronicle. “It happens all the time,” said police detective William Lilly. Shifts in the legal system and public opinion have made it easier to prosecute women who molest boys in their pubescent years. Those who work closely with victims say rite-of-passage myths still make it hard for many, including jurors, to sympathize with older boys in such cases, who are also less likely to tell parents or police about abusive relationships with older women.
A Chronicle analysis of crimes in the Texas Sex Offenders Database found that 267 registered sex crimes in the past 10 years included older women and teenage boys. Such cases made up less than half a percent of all sex offenses registered in 1996 and about 1.5 percent of sex crimes this year. Pam Hobbs, who heads children’s court services in Houston, has seen police and prosecutors taking underage boys’ allegations more seriously in the past decade. Potential jurors are another matter. “The general public still does not let boys be victims like they do girls,” said Hobbs, a 23-year veteran of the department. “And I don’t think they hold the offenders as accountable when the offender is a female.” Studies are mixed on whether female offenders get lighter sentences. Texas women serving less than life terms for sexual assault of a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child, or child rape were sentenced to 6,611 days on average, compared with 7,879 days for men convicted of the same crimes.