The Politics And Controversy Behind The Age-Of-Consent Laws
Argentina has a statutory age of consent at 18 years old for any adult seeking intimate relations with another individual. However, their age-of-consent laws also have a clause in them that sets special burden-of-proof requirements for their prosecution if the alleged “victim” of carnal knowledge of a minor is 13 to 17 years old despite that the violation of these laws still constitutes a strict liability crime. That clause requires that the prosecution prove that the alleged “victim” suffered exploitation at the hands of their older partner or that their older partner corrupted them in some way during their sexual encounter. Therefore, basically, if a 14- or 15-year-old girl’s 20-year-old boyfriend is arrested on charges of “statutory rape” for being with that girl and that girl is at odds with the police and the prosecution, chances are the prosecution is eventually going to give up pursuing a criminal case against the young girl’s boyfriend and drop the criminal charges against him. The reason that Argentina has their age-of-consent laws set up this way is because they do not wish to have the same problems as the United States of America, and they do not want their country to become a playground for vigilante violence as our nation and the United Kingdom have both become. Argentina has its age-of-consent laws set up very similarly to those of Germany.
The international community has never seemed to have had any problems with the way that Argentina has set up their age-of-consent laws. On the other hand, the international community was not so happy after Turkey lowered its statutory age of consent from 15 years old to 12 years old; and after I researched further into the matter, I began to understand the reason that the international community reacted the way it did. First of all, this nation is predominantly Muslim, and the rights of women and young girls are not as readily respected there as they should be. Second of all, the national legislature of Turkey subsequently entertained a bill that would allow for men to marry girls younger than 12 years of age whom they have sexually victimized. Droves of Turkish women took to the streets to protest against that bill after it was introduced to legislation, and eventually the national legislature of Turkey withdrew it from consideration.
At one point in time, like Argentina and Germany, the Netherlands implemented safeguards in their age-of-consent laws to prevent frivolous and malicious carnal knowledge cases involving adolescent minors from being placed on their criminal court dockets. Up until the year 1990, the statutory age of consent in the Netherlands was 21 years old. By the 1980s, it was extremely difficult for a minor under 18 years of age to get married in that nation just as it has become in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Because the statutory age of consent in that country was so high and underage marriage was virtually unattainable, young people began to ignore the age-of-consent laws in that country.
The Dutch Parliament ultimately decided in 1990 that it was time for them to reform the age-of-consent laws in their nation. Therefore, they lowered their age of consent to 16 years old. They also added a provision in their age-of-consent laws that empowered an agency there known as the Council For The Protection Of Children to receive all of the complaints of violations of the age-of-consent laws. At the same time, this same provision granted 12-, 13-, 14-, and 15-year-old youths the right to contest a charge of carnal knowledge or “statutory rape” against their older significant others in that same forum. In this manner, such cases were kept off the courtroom dockets and out of the courtrooms so that prosecutors could not touch them, and the authorities only got involved if the Council For The Protection Of Children saw it necessary. This same provision restricted who could lodge official complaints against anyone for violation of the age-of-consent laws in that country. For example, a jealous 16-year-old ex-boyfriend could not misuse the age-of-consent laws to exact revenge on his 14- or 15-year-old ex-girlfriend after seeing her in public with a 20-year-old suitor.
This new law remained in effect in the Netherlands until 2002. According to the presentation that Dr. Judith Levine gave in one of the YouTube videos I show of her here in my article, in 2014, she stated that the Netherlands did still have some kind of provision in their age-of-consent laws that only allowed for 12-, 13-, 14-, and 15-year-old youths and nobody else to bring charges of “statutory rape” against an older partner of theirs; and they had to do so to the Council For The Protection Of Children.
Whenever the subject of the age-of-consent laws surfaces anywhere here in our country, it always leads to heated discussions that everyone cannot seem to agree upon altogether. Sometimes these heated discussions bring forth a hostile exchange of words and people become enthralled in all the controversy that arises from these same discussions. Our age-of-consent laws extend to computer usage and regulate the manner in which adults and minors may communicate with one another online. Regardless of whether you believe that our age-of-consent laws throughout our nation are way too outrageously lenient or way too ridiculously harsh, I think that most of us can agree that our age-of-consent laws throughout our country are not without their imperfections. It is true that the statutory ages of consent across the nation are higher nowadays than they were two to three decades ago, and the sentences for people who violate them are much lengthier than they were in years past. Of course, legislatures across our nation have implemented Romeo-and-Juliet clauses in some of the state jurisdictions to alleviate the Draconian effects of these laws. However, there is no question about the fact that our nation has some of the highest ages of consent of any nation in the world, and the sentencing guidelines pertaining to these laws are much harsher here in our nation than the ones in the United Kingdom.
To find the reasons why our age-of-consent laws have evolved into what they currently are in such a short time, we have to look back in time to the Clinton years. Back in the 1990s, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her former role as First Lady, influenced her husband (President Bill Clinton) and numerous legislators throughout our country to raise the age of consent in each state to 18 years old, but no lower than 16 years old. Keep in mind that there were state jurisdictions in our nation that still set their statutory ages of consent between 12 and 15 years old as late as the turn of the millennium. I know about this historical event, because I used to work for a social services agency. The way that Ms. Clinton achieved this objective of hers was to influence her husband (President Bill Clinton) and Congress to pass a Federal law that would reform the welfare system, changing A.F.D.C. (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) to T.A.N.F. (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families). This change established a two-year time limit for cash welfare benefits, whereas previously someone could collect such benefits indefinitely. What the press and the media did not openly publicize was the fact that this Federal law also withdrew the Federal government’s welfare-related funding from any state that refused to raise its statutory age of consent to 16, 17, or 18 years old. In other words, the state jurisdictions that kept their statutory ages of consent at 12, 13, 14, and 15 years old ran the risk of losing Federal funding for their welfare programs. After a scandal broke out in the national news regarding a 13-year-old girl who had hooked up with a 58-year-old man in an online chat room and had gone to cohabitate with him after her fourteenth birthday in New Hampshire where the statutory age of consent was 14 years old at the time, Ms. Clinton’s support from others to get this Federal bill ratified into law grew throughout the 1990s.
By the year 2001, the lowest statutory age of consent anywhere in our nation was 16 years old. Hawaii was the last state to raise its age of consent to 16 years old and above. Hawaii’s statutory age of consent was 14 years old before 2001. Interestingly enough, this move on the part of the Hawaiian state legislature and that state’s governor was met with resistance from the local and state authorities in that jurisdiction. There was an upside and a downside to this so-called reform in our country’s statutory ages of consent from state to state. The upside to this Earth-shattering change in these laws was that prosecutors were now able to use these new laws as bulletproof vests against the “seduction” defense in forcible rape cases involving victims younger than 16 years old. Of course, then again, anybody could have presented that same argument for raising the statutory age of consent in each state across the nation to 16, 17, or 18 years old as far back as the 1960s when our country was suffering from a problem with outlaw bikers like the Hell’s Angels, the Pagans, and the Sons of Satan kidnapping 12-year-old girls and turning them into involuntary baby machines. That is, it didn’t necessarily mean that it would have been the best course of action for lawmakers to take throughout our land, because the problems that our nation was facing back then were much more elaborate than these age-of-consent laws could have addressed.
The downside that our country suffered from this reactionary swing of the pendulum to the right with our statutory-age-of-consent laws caused irreparable harm to us all as a society and as a culture in that innocent individuals were caught in the crossfire of the well-meaning intentions of these same laws. The downside to this agenda that Ms. Clinton successfully forced down the throats of the American people materialized in the form of either unjust criminal convictions or severe social ostracism or both against individuals who were wrongfully caught in its line of fire. A good example to this effect was the Kevin Gillson case in Port Washington, Wisconsin in 1997. The prosecutor in that matter, Sandy Williams, actually went on to become a judge, but she did not become any less corrupt than she had ever been.
Many countries here in the Western Hemisphere find the age-of-consent laws throughout our nation to be so unreasonable that they have limited their extradition treaties with our country so that the American authorities can only extradite an American citizen from their countries for carnal knowledge of a minor or “statutory rape” if the alleged “victim” is younger than 12 years of age. Stories like the one of Kevin Gillson give these Latin-American nations a myriad of reasons not to alter their extradition treaties with the United States of America concerning Americans who flee to those countries to escape outrageously harsh sentences pertaining to “statutory rape” convictions. The age-of-consent laws here in our nation simply don’t make any sense to these foreign jurisdictions.
The above-described downside that our country experienced spiraled way out of control in the form of extraterritorial laws that exported these statutory age-of-consent laws overseas for Americans traveling abroad. I am not mindless to the fact that these extraterritorial laws stopped sexual predators from victimizing children as young as newborns in developing nations, and, in that sense, these laws did some good for the world. However, it became costly to American taxpayers for our Federal government to fly witnesses and their families to our country for court appearances every time some 19- or 20-year-old American college student was arrested on suspicion of becoming intimate with a 14- or 15-year-old girl whom he had met at a party in some country like Austria or Denmark where their society, their law-enforcement officials, and even parents usually didn’t even pay any mind to adolescent girls hooking up with men slightly older than them. Ms. Clinton’s agenda became more like a Puritanical crusade than an actual collective effort to protect the youth of our nation. Now, I am just as appalled as any of you are about the idea of American businessmen traveling abroad to harm kids as young as 3 years old. However, I cannot disregard the frivolous and malicious carnal knowledge cases involving consenting parties close in age that have resulted from these same extraterritorial laws as well.
Ms. Clinton proclaimed herself to be a champion of women and young girls back in the 1990s. However, the hypocrisy of her above-described moral crusade came to light recently after Kathy Shelton exposed her for the kind of person she really was. There are court documents to prove that Ms. Clinton engaged in these same transgressions.
Ever since state legislatures across the nation have toughened the statutory age-of-consent laws here in the United States of America, detrimental problems have ensued as a result. In the year 2000, controversy stirred up after a 23-year-old Salvadorian man was arrested for hooking up with an 11-year-old girl whom he met in an online chat room after she had misled him to believe that she was 17 years old, and the judge who heard the case told the courtroom that “it takes two to tango” after he gave the young man a lenient sentence despite the serious nature of the criminal charges against him under the eyes of the law. Child advocates criticized the young man’s defense attorney, Rebecca Nitkin, for representing him in this matter. However, the YouTube video below clearly demonstrates that Ms. Nitkin does have compassion for true victims of heinous crimes, especially young victims.
Even the most die-hard supporters of rigid age-of-consent laws were not too stupid to notice the miscarriage of justice that occurred after a 13-year-old girl named Alisha Dean fooled several adult men into believing that she was a 19-year-old divorced woman and she got them into trouble back in 2008. Also, a 19-year-old man found himself possibly facing a lifelong sentence of sex offender registration simply for mistaking a 14-year-old girl to be 17 years old and having sexual intercourse with her in the wrong state. The YouTube video below shows all the nonsense that the criminal justice system put him through, even though he was no threat to society and had caused no harm to the young girl.
Even British judges over in the United Kingdom have questioned the fairness of their nation’s age-of-consent laws. Then again, British courts do not hand down as harsh and lengthy sentences as American courts do to defendants who have been convicted of carnal knowledge of an adolescent minor. What is so interesting about the United Kingdom is that back in 2013, a barrister named Barbara Hewson had proposed to the British Parliament that the statutory age of consent in her country be lowered from 16 years old to 13 years old. She received a boatload of hate mail for doing so, but she continued to stick to her guns, in figurative words.
When I was living in Los Angeles back in the 1990s, there was a report on the evening local news regarding a 46-year-old female schoolteacher who had attended a celebration that her school was throwing on for a group of schoolteachers and students. Unbeknownst to her, a 17-year-old boy had slipped some kind of drug into her punch, and she subsequently blacked out. After she woke up, she was stark naked and that same 17-year-old boy was on top of her; and he was also naked. She then realized that he had sexually assaulted her while she was unconscious. The poor woman immediately reported the incident to the authorities. However, the authorities and the Assistant District Attorney turned against her and wrongfully charged her with statutory rape after the 17-year-old boy lied to them and misled them to believe that she had seduced him. The Assistant District Attorney was a shyster, and he would talk about the 17-year-old boy on television as though this young man were a 7-year-old kid who had been abducted from a school playground and violated in every manner.
The major injustice here was that this woman was being charged with a sex crime, even though she was the victim and she was the one who was raped. Luckily, the truth prevailed and this 46-year-old woman was acquitted of the criminal charges. I do not believe that the 17-year-old boy was ever charged with rape. However, this whole ordeal that unfolded in the local media forever destroyed my faith in the professional integrity of our criminal justice system. Then again, this incident took place not too long after the Rodney King beating. The Los Angeles Police Department had built a bad reputation for themselves right up to the time that the Christopher Commission was created to oversee their work-related activities.
The problem that our society currently faces is that we have an inclination to take a blind faith in everything that child advocates, child advocacy organizations and the likes feed us regarding the integrity and the so-called well-meaning intentions of the age-of-consent laws across our country. However, we need to be cautious of what these people tell us despite that they may claim to be merely educating the public. Child abuse prevention is a multimillion-dollar industry. Therefore, it is a magnet for greed and deception, and hypocrisy is everywhere within its ranks.
Law-enforcement officials and lawmakers can be among the worst offenders of the age-of-consent laws in our country. Scandals about Congressmen having liaisons with teenaged pages have been coming out of Washington, D.C. since the early 1980s. There was a Congressman who strongly supported tough laws regarding sex crimes against minors, and he got caught sending lewd e-mails and sexually suggestive instant messages to teenage boys approximately a decade ago. When I was living in California back when The Montel Williams Show was still in Los Angeles, one afternoon I was watching his television talk show and he had two 14-year-old girls on his guest panel who had escaped a life of prostitution that they both had been trapped in for two years. After Montel Williams asked them what kind of men they had as johns, one of them told him that most of their clientele, so to speak, were police officers. She stated that these police officers would take each of them to an isolated alley where they could get into the back of a police patrol car to have sexual intercourse. Mr. Williams became shocked, and he said that these men were hypocrites for breaking the very same laws that they were supposed to be enforcing.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a less-than-wholesome past despite that it was first created to protect the children of our nation from harm. When John Walsh co-founded this same organization back in 1984, it was nothing like it is now. The people who initially ran this organization actually cared about the children whom they were rescuing and protecting. However, this organization has become all about the money in recent years despite that it is supposed to be a non-profit organization, and it has begun to become a clone of the Church of Scientology in so many ways.
Audiences craved every new episode of “To Catch A Predator” on Dateline: NBC back when Chris Hansen was hosting this same television program approximately one decade ago. However, their crew as well as an organization named Perverted Justice all ran into legal problems and money issues after everything went downhill for that television show subsequent to an incident in Terrell, Texas that led to the death of one of their suspects. The YouTube video below describes these facts.
In a nutshell, all of these self-righteous do-gooders simply are not what they misrepresent themselves to be. Most of them are more concerned about their own self-gain than about the welfare of our nation’s children. We should all be equally leery about anything that so-called non-profit organizations like the Tahirih Justice Center and Unchained At Last tell us regarding underage marriage in the United States of America. These people do not have the best interests of our nation’s youth at heart, even though they may misrepresent themselves to do so. They know how to manipulate the insecurities of Americans on the issue of teenage sexuality, because they have been repeatedly misusing the issue of the age-of-consent laws to promote their misleading campaign and they have been filling Americans’ heads with fear by taking advantage of the fact that our nation is in the midst of a Pedophile Panic.
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