After MI Teen Suicide, Experts Question Statutory Rape Law


After a reported teenage sex encounter turned tragic in Michigan’s Huron Township, legal experts and victims rights advocates say the state’s criminal sexual conduct laws should be reconsidered because the laws can hurt teens more than society benefits, says the Detroit Free Press. A boy, 18, and a girl, 14, who were in a math class together communicated on MySpace and had consensual sex. The boy thought the girl waas 16, but because she was only 14, he was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Then the girl appeared on a television news report accusing the boy of forcibly raping her — which contradicted her written statement to police. After going through ridicule and harassment at school, the girl hanged herself in her bedroom Monday night. There must be a better way of dealing with these cases” of sexually active teenagers, said Gail Benson, an attorney with extensive experience in representing defendants charged with criminal sexual assaults. “If kids are having sex at 14 and we can’t stop them, should we be criminalizing them?” she said, also asking whether it’s good public policy to use felony offenses to “protect a 15-year-old girl against a 16-year-old boy.”

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