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Teen Sex Offenders

"Romeo and Juliet" Couples Treated as Sex Offenders

There's a major debate going on about whether teens should be jailed as sex offenders when they are having consensual sex with other teens.

The groups fighting against the laws say that teens should be sent to treatment centers or counseling, not jailed and put on sex-offender registries. "The laws often don’t differentiate between a 50-year-old man molesting a 14-year-old girl, and two teenagers having sex," points out criminal-defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter.

And it's easy to see where they're coming from with examples like Ken Baldino, who spent six years in jail for being an 18-year-old high school senior having sex with his girlfriend, 14-year-old freshman Emily Lester. Now 26 and out of jail, Ken will be a convicted felon for life, isn't allowed to use a computer (he's never been on Facebook!), and is forced to wear a bulky GPS device at all times. His relationship was also cut off with the woman he loved, as he's still not able to be in contact with his "victim." Emily pleaded then that they were in love, and even today she says, "I'm not a victim. He didn't rape me."

But those on the other side say the law's the law. Assistant district attorney Joan Korb says, "I wish parents would teach their kids respect for authority, the law, and other people." And chief assistant prosecutor Paul Walton says, "You can disagree on the age of consent, but the law says that prior to that age, a person doesn't have the ability to consent."

When it comes to cases dealing with sexual offenses, the line is blurry and the debate is heated. After all, who needs to be protected with these laws? We want to be advocating for the victims, the kids, but what if the offender is a kid himself? Weigh in below.

Join The Conversation
danakscully64 danakscully64 5 years
radams1216 - I am so sorry your son had to go through that. Where were the parents of the girl when this was going on? She sounds like she has some serious emotional issues.
Pazuzu Pazuzu 5 years
while i dont think children under 15 are emotionally ready for sex, being labeled a sex offender for life because an 18 year old had sex with a 16 year is just ridiculous. I know the law exists to protect children and to keep them safe,but is it really feasible to put a bunch of teens in jail because they had sex? I dont know why the goverment thinks they can dictate what i do with my body, or at what age i choose to do it. Focus on the pedophiles and child molesters, not horny teenagers.
Amy-F Amy-F 5 years
It is very sad what society has done to our children. What do they expect? They have let them dress like adaults, where makeup like adaults, let them think it is ok to do anything they want and if punished by a parent-they think it is abuse and thats just a VERY basic list...As a society we have let our youth think it is ok to be sexual and act grown up...dont get me wrong in the past it was ok to marry at 16 etc., but we have let the kids become adaults when they should be more worried about that zit on their face then 'is my but looking flavlicious?'
radams1216 radams1216 5 years
Please forgive me for the mistakes in the previous post,I've been up all night working and really tired & also not very computer literate.I think you get the idea. Have a great day.
radams1216 radams1216 5 years
I have a son that is this very situation, he dated a girl when was 17.The girl told him she was the same age.After a few dates she revealed that she was only 14.My son was called too the local police station.He admitted to having consensual sex with the girl then later learned she lied.Now he a convicted sex offender,served time in prison for this.Now on parole this will follow him for life.We found out during all this mess the young girl has done this too 4 other boys all now serving time.Where's the justice in this.Unless girls are with born on dates this going to continue to happen.Thank God my son only has 2 months left on parole,then maybe he can try to straighten his life out.
yv3chr yv3chr 5 years
This is a law that should be changed. To many people getting caught up in it. My fiance got caught up in it he was 18 and she was 16. So now he is always going to have to register and be looked at like something other than a human being.
amber512 amber512 5 years
This is absolutely ridiculous. The world does not work in black and white but in shades of gray. And the law needs to better reflect that and not wrongfully punish consensual people.
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