LET’S BE CLEAR: Nothing in the law can be more definitive than what constitutes statutory rape: It is a crime that occurs in New Jersey when one of the partners is between 13 and 16 and the other is at least four years older. And it can put a convicted offender in prison for a long time, among other serious consequences.
Those adults who claim “she/he looked 18″ — or said the victim showed a fake ID — have no defense, under what is known as the standard of strict liability. An adult also can’t claim that he or she was seduced.
It doesn’t matter that the girl or boy consents. Supervisory authority over a youth also makes the acts criminal.
Anyone under the age of 16 is deemed incapable of consenting to sex, under the law. Anyone under 13 is the victim of aggravated sexual assault.
If convicted, an adult faces up to 10 years in prison if the youngster was between 13 and 16. Penalties are much more severe if the child is younger than that.
The convicted adults also must register as Megan’s Law offenders, with lifetime parole.
On top of that, defendants in statutory rape cases can be sued in civil court for personal injury.
Please: I know you can’t be everywhere all the time, but keep an eye on your kids. And when you can’t, know that someone you can absolutely trust 100 percent is handling the duty.
Do not take chances. Do not cut corners. Do not think you won’t be out too long.
Yes, they are individuals. But their individual freedom does not trump our obligation to protect them. Remember: Just about all of these children either meet, or maintain correspondences with their rapists online or via texting — the very practices that they try to hide from you.
But they can’t hide it from the authorities. Why do you think it’s so easy for investigators to make cases? The evidence is already there, if only you bother to look.
By JERRY DeMARCO (Publisher/Editor)