Kaitlyn Hunt – Why this Happens

I remember decades ago, when I was a prosecutor here in West Palm Beach. I was involved in Citizen Intake (yes, citizens could actually call the State Attorney) and received a call from a somewhat out of breath young male person asking me what the age of consent was. I do not remember what my answer was, but I was always impressed that he thought to ask.

Things have chugged along since then but one thing has not changed. Teens do not ask law enforcement if its ok to have sex. The problem now is that we insist on keeping laws on the books that no longer reflect the practices and attitudes of modern life.

It is a lot easier, politically, to simply fail to enforce such laws than to actually advocate for their repeal. The problem is that a law that is not uniformly enforced, is, in effect, not a law equally applied to all, but a choice being made to prosecute some but not others. These choices are inherently going to be made on the basis of considerations that often cross the lines of reasonableness and fairness. In other words, if we are not going to go after every 18 year old who has sex with someone 13 to 15 years old, we are making a choice to only go after certain 18 year olds who do so. To the extent these choices are going to be made by police or and/or prosecutors, they will reflect more about the people making the choices than about the people being charged.

In regard to this case and others, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys know that, by and large, where these cases make it to court, it is often on the insistence of the younger child’s parents. Thus we have a law that punishes those who run afoul of the parents of their consenting sex partners. My experience is that often these parents (or the parent as it is often a single parent situation) are exorcising a fair amount of guilt over their own parenting when they insist on seeing the life of another young person ruined. More often, I see cases where the parent(s) are using the law as a threat to leverage an undesirable male out of their lives.

The assumption of Florida’s law and others is that a person 13-15 years of age is unable to consent to sex, does not appreciate the “gravity” of that decision, and would certainly be unable to care for the possible outcome. With exception of the latter, these assumptions no longer are as easy to make in today’s cyber-society. For what its worth, having never tried lesbian sex, I do not believe it produces babies.



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