Join 3,426 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Matthew Koso Goes To Jail
February 7, 2006 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Family Values. Today Matthew Koso, 23, was sentenced to 18-30 months in a Nebraska state prison for having consensual sex with his wife, Crystal, 15, notwithstanding the fact that their marriage was legally celebrated in neighboring Kansas. In the photo gallery you can view pictures of the victim of this crime as well as the state's key piece of evidence, who will be without a father for the next year and a half or so. (Previous Mefi thread here. Today's links via How Appealing.)
posted by Saucy Intruder (142 comments total)

 
I have a hard time siding with a guy that had a sexual relationship with a 13 year old.
posted by Plinko at 9:33 PM on February 7, 2006


You gotta love the nanny state.
posted by caddis at 9:33 PM on February 7, 2006


Maybe she was built like a 14 year old.

I'm just sayin'.

;)
posted by newfers at 9:36 PM on February 7, 2006


It's nice to be reminded everyone once in a while of that oft forgotten cornerstone of family values - statutory rape.

It's how the kids these days negotiate, you know. I bet she just wanted a ride to the mall, or the Caldor or something, and he was more than willing to come to a comprise...
posted by SweetJesus at 9:42 PM on February 7, 2006


newfers, that was pretty godamn funny. I guess that answers a question I was having about myself; will I still be amused at statuatory rape jokes now that I have a daughter. Apparently the answer is yes.
posted by jonson at 9:44 PM on February 7, 2006


That's a lot of assumin', SJ.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:46 PM on February 7, 2006


Every so often you hear about a man who marries a girl because she convinced him he'd fathered her baby -- then later when it turns out not to be true, the judge makes him pay child support anyway, in the name of doing what's "in the child's best interest".

Then you read this story, where the legitimate father of this child is being sent to prison, when he should be at home being a father, which would be in the child's best interest.

No point here, just wondering aloud.

Also, this:

In addition, Bryan said, Koso continued to have sex with Crystal after Bruning charged him in July.

That makes my brain want to explode. He kept having sex with her? Oh, wait, it's his legal wife. But she's still underage. But they're MARRIED. *boom*
posted by davejay at 9:51 PM on February 7, 2006


irony = he might someday become a deadbeat dad and the justice system will never catch him. but instead they are married and the law can grab him right now. I dont know this guy, but let's assume he is a good kid with a job and some enthusiasm about being the best damn dad he can be and now he gets to witness the worst of society in prison where his life will be changed forever.
posted by lsd4all at 9:53 PM on February 7, 2006


The girl was awfully young, but they already have the kid and it seems he was being responsible. Government doing more harm than good yet again. I think.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 9:54 PM on February 7, 2006


I still haven't decided who I should be outraged with
posted by herting at 10:05 PM on February 7, 2006


It sure is good we have the government to define who is or isn't a child.
posted by odinsdream at 10:06 PM on February 7, 2006


How is it Koso is sentenced to a jail term but the girl's parent's walk away scott free? The girl's parents enabled the relationship and the marriage. WTF?
posted by photoslob at 10:10 PM on February 7, 2006


“Marriage can’t cover up a crime, and it can’t make it go away,” Bryan said.

I thought there was "sanctity" in marriage.
posted by j-urb at 10:15 PM on February 7, 2006


OD: It sure is good we have the government to define who is or isn't a child.

I'd rather have the govt defining a 13 yr old as a child, than Matthew Koso defining one as not.
posted by swell at 10:18 PM on February 7, 2006


And I would rather the government stay out of it, is all I'm saying, swell. They had the chance to voice their concern, so to speak, when they issued the marriage license.
posted by odinsdream at 10:21 PM on February 7, 2006


I'm with herting. I honestly can't decide between the two or what should be done. I mean, deterrence is part of the philosophy behind prison sentences, so this could be to discourage others from fucking THIRTEEN YEAR OLDS.

But god damn if it seems like this isn't helping anyone. But then I remember that the guy fucked a thirteen year old and somehow convinced himself and her that 13 year olds know themselves well enough to know they'd like to be married to and have sex with people that much older than they are, and how I don't believe that's possible and...

then my head hurts. I seriously can't figure who's wronger, here. (suck it, dictionaries.)
posted by shmegegge at 10:34 PM on February 7, 2006


This seems like one of the hazards posed by leaving marital law up to the states. Always thought that was a bit bizarre. How do they do it in other countries?
posted by Afroblanco at 10:35 PM on February 7, 2006


That's quite an age spread, 21 and 13. Over-18/under-18 rules aside, isn't the usual equation (your age/2) + 7 = don't date someone younger than this?

She's no Teddy Girl, I must say.
posted by emelenjr at 10:36 PM on February 7, 2006


Metafilter: suck it, dictionaries.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 10:41 PM on February 7, 2006


The part that I found weird/kinda gross about this story is that the law in Kansas is that a child can get married with parental consent. So the girl's mom found out the girl was pregnant and let her cross the state line to get married to this guy. When they came back, Nebraska arrested him and now KS Attorney General Phill Kline (probaby a bigger scumbag) wants to change the law.

On a related note, since I live in Kansas and have a baby daughter, now would be a good time to marry her off to an illegal alien. Start the bidding for my "consent". Now all I need is a license to perform marriages from the Universal Life Church and I can have a small business!
posted by tublecain at 10:45 PM on February 7, 2006


Meanwhile, today, the new Cuntservative government began musing about steps it will take to Americanise Canada...
posted by SSinVan at 10:51 PM on February 7, 2006


For what it's worth, if you examine our family trees back as far as our ancestors count as human, a lot of those generations were about 15 years old when they begat the next. The idea of a delay between puberty and adulthood is recent in European-descended societies, and uncommon in others. But so are self-arranged marriage, birth control, double-income households, near-100% childhood survival rates, and having less than 3 children.

Seems to me the law of statutory rape has three purposes: firstly, of preventing very young single mothers; secondly, of delaying sexual activity until life experience is gained, and thirdly of preserving virginity. In all three of these cases, there is a clear subtext expectation of the older partner being male, and clearing off pretty much the minute he has his pants back on. That's a fair expectation, but it isn't universal.

Odinsdream has hit the heart of it, in my opinion. The other state issued the marriage license. I don't know why the hell the registrar or celebrant in the state that granted the license didn't take the ten seconds it takes to warn them "Other states don't necessarily consider a marriage to be a shield against statutory rape laws, you should consider staying here if you're planning to live together", I don't know. Maybe they did, and this couple were just that dumb that they moved back.

But being dumb, horny and pumped full of anti-premarital sex propaganda shouldn't be a crime. This is a clear case where the warranted sentence should be wholly suspended with no conviction recorded.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:56 PM on February 7, 2006


My child bride will be very unhappy at this news, as soon as I read it to her.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:22 PM on February 7, 2006


Meanwhile, today, the new Cuntservative government began musing about steps it will take to Americanise Canada...

I'm dumbfounded. As far as I'm aware, our consent laws aren't really much of an issue as far as the general public is concerned. Why the hell are they starting off with a focus on the irrelevent, instead of actually taking care of real, existing problems?

Ah, well. They won't be in power for long, so perhaps it is best if they play around with unimportant things.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:46 PM on February 7, 2006


If there's grass on the field, play ball.

(Everytime I hear that saying I get grossed out. But it seems like a funny here)
posted by b_thinky at 11:55 PM on February 7, 2006


Astro Zombie, you just made me spit up my water.
posted by Windigo at 11:56 PM on February 7, 2006


so your kinderfrau is blind, Astro? or is she... retarded?

oh, wait, you mean...



you sick fucker.
posted by Hat Maui at 12:19 AM on February 8, 2006


...notwithstanding the fact that their marriage was legally celebrated in neighboring Kansas.

Why wouldn't it be? One man, one woman...that's all that matters, right?

(Oh, you knew SOMEONE was going to say it.)
posted by deusdiabolus at 12:25 AM on February 8, 2006


Look, the guy is obviously a little slow (at best) and was fully in thrall to his hormones.

As will be the next 18 year-old to have sex with a 13 year-old. So there's no real deterrence in locking the guy up.

And he did "do the right thing" by marrying the girl, and she doesn't feel like a victim, and they have a child to raise -- which he can't do while in prison, and which he'll find harder to provide for as a registered sex offender.

The grandstanding Attorney General hasn't helped anything but his political career. Built on the backs of poor misguided kids.
posted by orthogonality at 1:11 AM on February 8, 2006


So he committed a crime, but tried to make good on it... I can't say I pity the guy, but if the courts truly do have the best interest of the child and society in mind, this man should be out working to provide for his kid. Punishing him isn't as important as that. It seems a lot less predatory and a lot more youthful idiocy.

I'm a little surprised nobody mentioned his tie yet...
posted by Saydur at 2:46 AM on February 8, 2006


five fresh fish writes "Why the hell are they starting off with a focus on the irrelevent, instead of actually taking care of real, existing problems?"

That's contemporary "conservatism" in a nutshell though... a bit like the President using the SotU to get people all riled up about "animal-human hybrids".
posted by clevershark at 3:44 AM on February 8, 2006


Yes, I'm sure that NASCAR really impressed the judge too...
posted by clevershark at 3:45 AM on February 8, 2006


er, NASCAR tie*
posted by clevershark at 3:45 AM on February 8, 2006


Criminalizing sex? What will this wacky christian hypocrisy come up with next? What we need is a good bill of rights... but then, who'd stop the horny 13 year olds?
posted by ewkpates at 3:52 AM on February 8, 2006


Thank the Lord, at least this sicko won't be able to rape his wife anymore. That Judge had everyones best interests to think about and obviously that baby needs to be kept away from her pedo father. It's for their own good.

God bless America!
posted by twistedonion at 4:19 AM on February 8, 2006


> The girl was awfully young, but they already have the kid and it seems he was
> being responsible. Government doing more harm than good yet again. I think.

Totally agree, but then I'm in favor of rule by local warlords and patriarchs instead of the rule of law. If you're going to insist on the latter it's worth remembering this guy is going to jail for screwing a 13 year old when they weren't married. If you rob a bank and then somehow manage to buy the bank later, it gets you nowhere to say "Hey, it's my money now."
posted by jfuller at 4:31 AM on February 8, 2006


Maybe it was a crime against God or something because, you know, nobody married 15 year olds in biblical times. Actually, on an unrelated topic, is it legal in the U.S. for underaged kids to purchase contraceptives?
posted by Meridian at 4:32 AM on February 8, 2006


Seems to me the crime is in denying basic choice to an adolescent girl who is fully capable of making a decision which teenagers everywhere are making everyday. The problem with statutory rape laws is that protect 15 years olds the same way the protect 5 years. You would want a 13 year old to drive, but they can if they have to, and you would confine her to a stroller.
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:11 AM on February 8, 2006


Is there anyone that can give some insight as to why marriage is a states' rights issue, rather than a federal one. This sort of legal situation seems to be the exact reason why we have laws under the federal gpvernment -- the idea of being able to marry in one state, but getting arrested for that same marriage in another seems a bit ridiculous.

(All of that said with the realization that without marraige as a states' rights issue, the gay marriage struggle would be an even steeper uphill battle).
posted by VulcanMike at 5:13 AM on February 8, 2006


(Meridian — it may vary by state or locality. It was perfectly legal , if not encouraged, in the blue-state hippie outpost where I grew up.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:15 AM on February 8, 2006


Is there anyone that can give some insight as to why marriage is a states' rights issue, rather than a federal one

Fundamental design of the union. The founding fathers were trying to avoid the King and Parliment problem -- one group with absolute control. Add in the fact that there were thirteen colonies that revolted, all with differing aims.

Thus, the 9th and 10th Amendments, which state that the list of rights in the Constitution aren't comprehensive, and any power or right not explicitly granted to the Federal government belongs to the States or the People. (This is also why we have a split Federal government, or at least, we did. The branches were meant to be antagonistic to each other, to a certain degree.)
posted by eriko at 5:31 AM on February 8, 2006


The girl's parents enabled the relationship and the marriage.

The marriage, maybe, but there's mention of a protection order that they had taken out before the marriage. He had some kind of police or court order not to touch the girl, and he slept with her anyway.

I suspect Crystal's mother only let the marriage happen because the alternative, allowing her daughter to be an unwed teenage mother at 14, seemed worse. It's not a decision I agree with (but then, I'm in favour of abortion under such circumstances, and I know that many people wouldn't agree), but it's not one entirely without logic.

“A child is a child” in Nebraska law, he said earlier, and cannot give his or her consent to have sex with an adult, “regardless of love.”

This, to me, is the crux of the issue. We protect 13 year olds from having sex with adults because they're not mature enough to make decisions about things like having sex. "But I'm in love with him/her," is not a valid excuse. Of course the teenager thinks they are in love, that's how the adult convinces them to have sex in the first place.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:55 AM on February 8, 2006


If he wants to live by Kansas law then he should move to Kansas. I have a really hard time sympathizing with someone who thought that fucking a 13 year old was ok.
posted by bshort at 5:55 AM on February 8, 2006


I have a really hard time sympathizing with someone who thought that fucking a 13 year old was ok.

Definately, but what good does it do the child putting his father in prison for a year and a half of his life?
posted by twistedonion at 6:19 AM on February 8, 2006


(the childs life that is)
posted by twistedonion at 6:19 AM on February 8, 2006


He boinked a 13 year old. Ok, bad.
but why the hell is he the focus here?

Now the rest of us are incurring the cost of putting him up in prison. Half of that new families earning power is destroyed in the short term and severely hampered by his criminal record in the long term. They are a new family, the state married them. Hell, they are even trying to do "the right thing."

The victim of his crime wants him home with his baby.

We're mad at him, so we invent a deterrence motive as cover for vengeance. Hell, we might even believe that deterrence was our goal. But deterrence in this situation is not a reality. Strong social taboos already exist against sex with minors and they will remain strong as they damn well should. This act by the court was not needed.

Here, all we have done is further screw the life chances of a baby and young mother who already had a rough road ahead.
posted by BeerGrin at 6:25 AM on February 8, 2006


SSinVan, don't be ridicoulous. Raising the age of consent in Canada should be a priority. The gun thing? Who doesn't want that here? And making up names for the Conservatives like that? Grow up. You've discredited yourself from the outset. If you want to fight the conservative government, which, for the record, I do, you'll have to take it off the playground.
posted by jon_kill at 6:28 AM on February 8, 2006


This, to me, is the crux of the issue. We protect 13 year olds from having sex with adults because they're not mature enough to make decisions about things like having sex.

Eh, just goes to show you how times change. In colonial Southern America men regularly married fourteen year olds to no ill effect. What's changed since then? Life expectancy has doubled, but a fourteen year old girl is still a fourteen year old girl. The decision that such people aren't mature enough to make decisions like this are based on little more than arbitrary wishful thinking. Teenage girls in Western societies are, in fact, more mature and more knowledgeable of sex than at any other time in history. This case is tragic but, as the Romans knew, if the law didn't lead to a tragedy every now and then it wouldn't be the law.
posted by nixerman at 6:34 AM on February 8, 2006


I still haven't decided who I should be outraged with

That's OK -- as long as you're outraged, that's all that matters these days.

And I would rather the government stay out of it, is all I'm saying, swell. They had the chance to voice their concern, so to speak, when they issued the marriage license.

No, "they" (meaning Nebraska) didn't have that chance -- Kansas issued the license. In fact, the couple got married in Kansas specifically because Nebraska would not have issued them a license.

For what it's worth, I agree that the law has led to an unfortunate result in this case. But many seem to be ignoring the very real policy concerns underlying consent laws. I believe many 13 year olds are ill-equipped to handle the efforts of predatory adults, and deserve attention. Unfortunately, laws are often blunt objects -- unable to make fine distinctions like the relative maturity of the minor, the legitimacy of the adult's affections, etc.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:58 AM on February 8, 2006


deserve attention protection.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:59 AM on February 8, 2006


Teenage girls in Western societies may be more knowledgeable of sex, but they are hardly mature (if I may generalize based on my observations at the mall).

But to put things in perspective, as others have already said, jail time and 'sex offender' status for this guy is just going to guarantee another single welfare mother raising a child who will likely become a juvenile ward of the state at some point. This way we get to pay for all three of them!!

And when are judges going to turn the tables and start giving similarly harsh sentences to female teachers who rape young male students? House arrest? Suspended 6-month sentences? Get real.

On preview: (pardonyou?) I would think that the parents' permission to marry should be a valuable tool in helping the law to make a fine distinction about the maturity of the minor.
posted by wabashbdw at 7:02 AM on February 8, 2006


Statutory rape is the most absurd and arbitrary law ever invented. There are already child abuse laws and rape laws for real cases of chld abuse and real cases of rape. Statutory rape is just a made up category that gives the authorities more control over our sex lives.

What can justify placing a line at 18 to say that everybody, EVERYBODY, under this arbitrary age is incapable of deciding on who to have sex with? I've been sexually active since I was 15 and I managed to become a (relatively) healthy adult. I know people in their 30s who are too emotionally immature to choose their sexual partners with any degree of "success" (for lack of a better word). Perhaps they should not be allowed to have sex either?

Fucking puritans, if only they would have all burned each other at the stake instead of going to law school.
posted by sic at 7:04 AM on February 8, 2006


On a similar note, check out the powerful Sundance short film Fourteen [embeded video, safe for work but not really if you know what I mean].

Oh, and it's hard to have any respect for a guy who wears his hair like an arctic mitten.
posted by furtive at 7:06 AM on February 8, 2006


nixerman writes "Eh, just goes to show you how times change. In colonial Southern America men regularly married fourteen year olds to no ill effect. What's changed since then? Life expectancy has doubled, but a fourteen year old girl is still a fourteen year old girl. The decision that such people aren't mature enough to make decisions like this are based on little more than arbitrary wishful thinking."

I don't really understand this argument, nor any of the arguments that suggest that because our conception of childhood and adolescence was different in the past we are wrong about our views now. Why isn't the reverse true? Certainly in the case of young girls married to older men in colonial America, the girls weren't deemed old enough to responsibly make a decision about such matters, their fathers and (future) husbands made all the decisions for them.

The larger issue, however, is that changing social norms are just that, they are changed social norms. They aren't phantasmagorical, they're how society arranges itself. Perhaps those expectations are going through a period of rearrangement, but the physical ability to have sex is not the same thing as the ability to make good choices around the issue. I don't feel particularly strongly about this situation, but I wonder how many of the people who are suggesting that 13 is a fine age to be making these kinds of decisions would also argue that 13 year olds should not be tried as adults because they lack some of the cognitive and moral sense that would enable them to get a fair trial in such a venue.
posted by OmieWise at 7:12 AM on February 8, 2006


"laws are often blunt objects -- unable to make fine distinctions like the relative maturity of the minor, the legitimacy of the adult's affections, etc."


Correct. That is why laws are adjudicated by courts instead of applied by a "Justice Agency".

A court can make sophisticated and nuanced decisions based on facts presented. Of course we hate that don't we? "Activist Judges" who dare to look at the actual human beings who are actually being effected by the decision.

the legal process is and damn well ought to be complex enough to address a complex world. legal decisions can not be judged by how well they sell in a headline on Fox news.
posted by BeerGrin at 7:13 AM on February 8, 2006


What can justify placing a line at 18 to say that everybody, EVERYBODY, under this arbitrary age is incapable of deciding on who to have sex with? I've been sexually active since I was 15 and I managed to become a (relatively) healthy adult. I know people in their 30s who...

So how young is too young? Like a previous poster said, if there's grass on the field then play all the ball you want? What about girls who enter puberty early? Are 8-year-olds fair game?

Yes, statutory rape is an arbitrary line, but we make arbitrary distinctions all the time. In most cases a 15 year old is too immature to have sex. In most cases a 30 year old is mature enough to have sex. In most cases an 18 year old is too young to drink responsibly.

So then we start drawing big broad lines and we rely on the judicial branch to determine the fine distinctions. In this case the judge decided that the husband broke the law and the right thing to do was to send him to jail. You can second guess him all you want, but you obviously don't have all the facts. You know what you (maybe) read in a newspaper article. You didn't meet these people. You didn't hear their stories.

The judge in this case put a protection order on the girl and ordered the husband to not have sex with her. And then he did it anyway. Should he get a free pass just because they're married?
posted by bshort at 7:17 AM on February 8, 2006


This seems like one of the hazards posed by leaving marital law up to the states. Always thought that was a bit bizarre. How do they do it in other countries?

Marriage is a provincial responsibility in Canada.

SSinVan writes "the new Cuntservative government "

You're coming across a bit bitter their SSinVan. You might want to scale it back a bit lest you burn out before they are booted out.
posted by Mitheral at 7:27 AM on February 8, 2006


"The judge in this case put a protection order on the girl and ordered the husband to not have sex with her. And then he did it anyway. Should he get a free pass just because they're married?"

Quite possibly. The modern erosion of "full-faith and credit" between states is really coming to the surface here. How does a court derive authority to order a legally marries couple not to have sex.

Is the girl-bride in this case a ward of the state?

Darn it, I'm proving your point about not having read the case. But I'll hit westlaw during lunch and come back!
posted by BeerGrin at 7:31 AM on February 8, 2006


bshort writes "In most cases an 18 year old is too young to drink responsibly."

This is probably a bad example, I can't think of anywhere besides the US where the drinking age is as high as 21. It's doubly foolish in the states because you allow 18 year olds to sign up to be shot at and hold all public offices but president but heaven forbid they have a beer until they are 21.
posted by Mitheral at 7:38 AM on February 8, 2006


"So then we start drawing big broad lines and we rely on the judicial branch to determine the fine distinctions."

Honest question: Isn't the judicial branch becoming less and less capable of determining (considering) the fine distinctions? Between mandatory sentencing guidelines and following precedents, it seems to me that judges continue to have less control than ever.

Besides, isn't statutory rape one of the best examples of this? It is 'rape' precisely because of an arbitrary statute that was designed to prevent judges from considering the 'fine distinctions' of thousands of cases a year? It seems like the system is more interested in consistency than justice (which are not always one-and-the-same, in my opinion).
posted by wabashbdw at 7:38 AM on February 8, 2006


So then we start drawing big broad lines and we rely on the judicial branch to determine the fine distinctions. In this case the judge decided that the husband broke the law and the right thing to do was to send him to jail.

Well, yes and no. When the legislature enacts a statutory scheme--assuming it passes constitutional muster, of course--the job of the job is the apply that statute to the facts, not carve out exceptions. Where the law is clear that a 21-year old man commits statutory rape when he has sex with a 13 year-old girl, the judge likely has little leeway. More importantly, at least for purposes of this case, is the fact that Koso pleaded guilty. The judge may have some discretion is sentencing, but again, that is largely determined by the statutory scheme. The party with the most discretion in a case like this is the prosecutor.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:45 AM on February 8, 2006


The judge also said Koso had a history of pursuing underage girls, including 12- and 14-year-old girls Koso tried to date when he was 19.

This line kind of bothered me. I don't care how immature they claim he is, I seriously doubt the ladies in the 12-14 age range are mature enough to make up for him.

That being said, I think the prosecution is ridiculous. If they can marry, they can screw (and hopefully also raise their child).
posted by Flamingo at 7:47 AM on February 8, 2006


The modern erosion of "full-faith and credit"

This is really the most damaging precedent that this particular prosecution creates. Obviously Nebraska doesn't have a marriage exception in its statutory rape laws. But this is an area where a judicially carved exception to the bright-line rule would not only be fairer to the parties involved but consistent with the original puritan values that prompted the law's enactment in the first place. There's nothing "activist," to use the horribly loaded term, about that.

I'm also surprised that Koso hasn't mounted a Griswold-style constitutional challenge to the statutory rape law. A couple who, under color of state law, has been granted a marriage license is constitutionally entitled to the utmost privacy within their marital relationship. Statutory rape within marriage is, by definition, impossible. By contrast, non-consensual "ordinary" rape is an act of violence, not sex, and falls outside of the regulatory purview.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:51 AM on February 8, 2006


Can someone tell me why this man goes to prison while dozens of Mormons in Colorado City, AZ marry their 13-year old nieces with impunity?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:52 AM on February 8, 2006


In most cases a 15 year old is too immature to have sex.

Define your criteria for "too immature". When I was having sex at 15, my partners were also 15. Many people I knew were having sex as well at the same age, some even younger. As far as I know all of them turned out to be "normal" adults (that is, adults with tons of problems, strengths and weaknesses, etc.).

I think you are correct in that a court should define whether a minor has been abused or raped, but they should do so using child abuse laws and rape laws as a guide, NOT statutory rape, which is a ridiculous and arbitrary, yet inflexible law.
posted by sic at 7:52 AM on February 8, 2006


In most cases a 15 year old is too immature to have sex. In most cases a 30 year old is mature enough to have sex. In most cases an 18 year old is too young to drink responsibly.

bshort, where do you get this from? Do you have any sort of, say, evidence for these positive assertions? How many 15 year olds do you even know? This is just wrong. Most 15 year olds are more than mature enough to have sex. I say this based on experience but the rest of the world, which has younger and far more relaxed consent laws, agrees with me. Only in America would anybody seriously propose such a ridiculous assertion.

I don't really understand this argument, nor any of the arguments that suggest that because our conception of childhood and adolescence was different in the past we are wrong about our views now. Why isn't the reverse true?

The absence of a law doesn't require any justification. In this particular case, if you are going to rip apart this family, then you must make a positive argument for the law. The reasoning is quite simple: America got along just fine for a long time with non-existent or unenforced consent laws. It's only very recently that you get this sort of obsessive need to "protect" children.

Look at people like pardonyou? who think that consent laws "protect" 13 year olds. I mean, seriously, is it an established fact that 13 year olds need protection? Is it the case that if there were no consent laws then legions of sexual predators would descend upon the malls to seduce and destroy nubile young women? Or is this just your fantasy?

The real crux of the matter is that for most people the law is just an excuse not to think. This is unfortunate since, at least since God got out of the tablet-making business, it's not clear at all whether various laws do more harm than good. But a lot of people will look at a case like this, where it's very clear that the law isn't protecting anybody, and will insist on some silly justification because the law is, well, the law.
posted by nixerman at 7:55 AM on February 8, 2006


In most cases a 15 year old is too immature to have sex.

That's one opinion and it's debatable. In many other countries the age of consent is 14.

After all, such laws are intended to set an arbitrary minimum age, not a rule about the age everyone should start having sex.
posted by funambulist at 8:06 AM on February 8, 2006


The most absurd thing here (ok apart from the judge following the law to the letter even when it's obviously doing no one any good in this case, but maybe there wasn't much choice to grant an exception) is they were allowed to marry.

I can't get my head around laws that state you have to be 21 to have a beer, but you can get married at 14. How crazy is that?
posted by funambulist at 8:12 AM on February 8, 2006


Should he get a free pass just because they're married? Umm, yes?

That is the whole point of this thread you know, whether he should get that free pass. You say it like it is absurd that he should but nothing you said before makes it seem absurd, at least to me. If they are legally married, please let them be.

Frankly, in addition to the whole nanny state, paternalism issues wherein the government decides how you should live your life, I think an additional consideration is the full faith and credit in marriage, and what that might mean if some later marriage is between two men.
posted by caddis at 8:12 AM on February 8, 2006


In colonial Southern America men regularly married fourteen year olds to no ill effect.

To no ill effect to who? Are you honestly contending that conditions for women in colonial Southern America were ideal?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:23 AM on February 8, 2006


bshort, where do you get this from? Do you have any sort of, say, evidence for these positive assertions? How many 15 year olds do you even know?

Look, I'm not saying that I think that any of these assertions are true (or false). I'm saying that that's the way our current law works. Arbitrary distinctions are made all the time. You can argue about where the line should be, and that's fine, but a line will invariably be drawn somewhere.

Honest question: Isn't the judicial branch becoming less and less capable of determining (considering) the fine distinctions? Between mandatory sentencing guidelines and following precedents, it seems to me that judges continue to have less control than ever.

You're absolutely right on the sentencing guidelines part. I think following precedent, though, is a fine idea.
posted by bshort at 8:24 AM on February 8, 2006


That is the whole point of this thread you know, whether he should get that free pass. You say it like it is absurd that he should but nothing you said before makes it seem absurd, at least to me. If they are legally married, please let them be.

He broke the judge's order. At the very least the judge could hold him in contempt, and considering his past record, and the fact that he plead guilty I'm not at all surprised that the judge sentenced him to jail.

So, to those of you that don't think a 13 year old is too young to be engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with a 21 year old, what about if she were 11? What if she were 8?
posted by bshort at 8:27 AM on February 8, 2006


The most absurd thing here is they were allowed to marry.

Well, they were allowed to marry in Kansas. And if they had stayed in Kansas it would have been fine, but they didn't. They lived in Nebraska, where this situation is statutory rape.
posted by bshort at 8:33 AM on February 8, 2006


So, to those of you that don't think a 13 year old is too young to be engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with a 21 year old, what about if she were 11? What if she were 8?

I think Everyone is different. If it is consensual and both people are fully sexually developed, why not? Because they are "mentally immature"? I know 30 year olds who are mentally immature. Should we stop them having sex too (and I'm not talking about mentally retarded, just immature).
posted by twistedonion at 8:44 AM on February 8, 2006


You can argue about where the line should be, and that's fine, but a line will invariably be drawn somewhere.

It's still not clear that the line should be drawn anywhere. You can simply say, "well that's the law!" and that's fine. For a lot of people, the question ends with the law. But don't pretend that there is any sort of justification for such a law. Don't pretend that in this particular case--where the law is so clearly misguided--that the law is helping anybody. You can postulate all you want about the many theoretical 11-12-13 year olds that must be protected from lecherous older men but don't pretend that this constitutes any kind of rational basis for a law.

Are you honestly contending that conditions for women in colonial Southern America were ideal?

This seems like quite a leap. My point was that these laws are a recent invention that arose out of no clear need for them. Are you saying that there were widespread ill effects on young brides during colonial times related to the fact that they were too "immature" to handle sex?
posted by nixerman at 8:45 AM on February 8, 2006


I think Everyone is different. If it is consensual and both people are fully sexually developed, why not?

Because our society does not believe that a 13 year old is able to make choices for herself. It's the same reason why you can't vote till you're 18.

It's still not clear that the line should be drawn anywhere.

Yeah, that's where I was guessing you were going.

So, what about if she were 11? What if she were 8?
posted by bshort at 8:51 AM on February 8, 2006


bshort, you're missing the point. It's not a question of fixing a number 8, 5, 15, 18, but rather of judging people, individuals, for who they are and what they are capable of. It's about putting things into context. Using a sweeping sex prohibition for anyone under a certain age is arbitrary and dangerous, as this case seems to prove. If a 13 year old girl is being coerced into having sex by a 21 year old man, well then we can charge him with sexual abuse and rape. Those laws are perfectly capable of protecting that person, regardless of their age.

What stuns me is that so many people are comfortable with a law that does not take people or their lives into consideration, but instead reduces them to a number, in this case the number 13: "she was a 13 year old". People are more complex, you know?
posted by sic at 8:54 AM on February 8, 2006


bshort: what if she'd been 3 years old? it's a slippery slope!

If we allow teenagers to have sex at 14 without legal consequences, then obviously we must allow 8 year olds to be sexually manipulated by random strangers who picked them up outside school. Babies? They're next! hurrah.

Come on.
posted by funambulist at 9:01 AM on February 8, 2006


FIAT JUSTICIA, PEREAT MUNDUS
posted by TRAJAN at 9:04 AM on February 8, 2006


Because our society does not believe that a 13 year old is able to make choices for herself.

Good for your society. Doesn't make it right.

So, what about if she were 11? What if she were 8?

7, 6, 5 - wtf, you are straight out of Brass Eye.
posted by twistedonion at 9:08 AM on February 8, 2006


Brass Eye
posted by twistedonion at 9:12 AM on February 8, 2006


Why does Nebraska hate young sexy America?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:17 AM on February 8, 2006


Are you saying that there were widespread ill effects on young brides during colonial times related to the fact that they were too "immature" to handle sex?

Yes.

I'm hearing a lot of people saying "immature" in quotes as though it were ridiculous to say that maturity matters in determining an age for consensual sex. It's not about schoolyard maturity, where we're talking about who called who names and who was being immature about it. It's about sexual and personal identity development. Human beings do not develop a strong sense of personal identity until their mid to late teens, in an overwhelming majority of cases. Their sexuality is a major part of this development, and to say that a 13 year old is capable of deciding on a sexual partner in full knowledge of herself and the role of sexuality in her life is absurd. It's even more absurd to consider that she's experienced enough of life to be able to choose a partner in marriage by that age, and understand what that means for the rest of her life.

There are studies about female psychosexual development that you can look up if you want. I don't currently remember the online resources for finding them, but I'm going to go look for them and link them here.

If you honestly think that the maturity of a child is not a yardstick by which can measure their preparedness for sex and marriage in our society, then please understand that the reason you think so is because you don't know what you're talking about.
posted by shmegegge at 9:18 AM on February 8, 2006


Here, here, shmegegge.

A couple who, under color of state law, has been granted a marriage license is constitutionally entitled to the utmost privacy within their marital relationship. Statutory rape within marriage is, by definition, impossible.

He fucked her before they were married. He fucked a 13-year-old girl.

sic, as has been noted, in the case of statutory rape the law reduces people to numbers and distinctions are made in each individual case from there. He wasn't sentenced for marrying a 14-year-old, he was sentenced because he knocked up a child and married her to make it better.

bshort, I'm with you.
posted by youarenothere at 9:40 AM on February 8, 2006


The cascade of facts here don't justify the hard line taken with this man. This smells an awful lot like politics being played with a family. If the interest is protecting minor children, perhaps someone should've thought about the youngest minor child in the picture here, who does not benefit here in the least.

he was sentenced because he knocked up a child and married her to make it better
honorab
I think that would be better stated as "he was sentenced because he knocked up a child." Period. Their marriage was deemed irrelevant by the court in question, apparently, and that's the problem. In most situations, a couple who face an unexpected pregnancy and choose to marry and create a stable home and family situation for their child to be born into are deemed responsible and smart. It makes no sense to deride this couple for doing what many others have done for years, probably some of our parents.
posted by Dreama at 10:04 AM on February 8, 2006


nixerman writes "My point was that these laws are a recent invention that arose out of no clear need for them."

Your point is well taken about the lack of a law needing no justification, except when it does. While you may or may not be correct about the lack of damage done to young girls because of a lack of sexual maturity, I think that you're ignoring the extent to which there were no laws not because the girls were deemed to be responsible, but because they were deemed to pretty much be incapable of such responsibility (by virtue of their gender). Laws that serve to make it harder to have sex with underage girls are too narrowly understood if they are read as only about sexual maturity and not as general attempts to protect the girls from more general manipulation and abuse.
posted by OmieWise at 10:08 AM on February 8, 2006


yournothere, shmegegge, bshort...

Ok, he's a right bastard who disserves what he got.

However, what about the girl, his wife?
Do we assume that he will dump her now that the cover is blown? What if we assume she will remain married to him? Do her needs for financial support not come into the picture at all? What about the child? Are we planning to dissolve his parental rights on the basis that he is a pedophile?

The problem about nailing this guy to the wall is that doing so does NOT just punish him? Are we going to make the decision that his marriage is void, and then care for the girl like we would another victim? Are we all sated and happy because punishment was meted out and that is all we really wanted anyway?
posted by BeerGrin at 10:10 AM on February 8, 2006


Beergrin:

I can see why my above comment would seem like I think the guy should go to jail. I don't necessarily believe that, though. As I said above (there's no reason you should have noticed or remembered that comment) I honestly have no idea what to think of this. I can't parse the conflict in my head, and I've decided I'm simply incapable of figuring out the right course of action, here. Maybe they could have deported them back to Kansas? I don't know. I honestly don't. I don't think anyone wins in this situation.

I was only making the point I made because there were people who were implying or outright saying that 13 year olds and younger could possibly be emotionally and intellectually ready for sex and marriage, which I flatly disagree with.
posted by shmegegge at 10:18 AM on February 8, 2006


And when are judges going to turn the tables and start giving similarly harsh sentences to female teachers who rape young male students?

Mary LeTourneau
posted by luneray at 10:19 AM on February 8, 2006


to say that a 13 year old is capable of deciding on a sexual partner in full knowledge of herself and the role of sexuality in her life is absurd

Here's a relevant if somewhat rhetorical "what if": what if it was a 13 year old boy sleeping with a 22 year old woman?
posted by funambulist at 10:25 AM on February 8, 2006


In most situations, a couple who face an unexpected pregnancy and choose to marry and create a stable home and family situation for their child to be born into are deemed responsible and smart.

In most cases, the child is not the result of an outright adult nailing a 13-year-old.

In cases where the mother is 13 and the father has shown previous interest in nailing barely pubescent girls, it's reasonable to think that this will not be a stable home, because he's likely to run off after some new 13-year-old when she hits the ripe old age of 18 or so.

Does getting the father out of the picture for a couple of years help the girl or the kid? Maybe not, because she's denied his financial support for that time. But maybe yes, if he's enough of a bad egg that anyone is better off with him far away than with him near. Maybe yes, if getting him out of the picture for a few years helps her clear her head, see her situation more clearly, and make better choices. Maybe yes, if she had been emotionally manipulated by him and this is a chance for psychological freedom from him.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:36 AM on February 8, 2006


still not okay, in my book. still not okay according to law outside of kansas. how about 16?
posted by shmegegge at 10:37 AM on February 8, 2006


In that case, funambulist, the prosecutor would have dropped the case and high-gived the boy as "living the dream". They'd made gauzy-filmed movies about the boy, reminiscing about the wonders of initiation by an older woman.

As someone upthread pointed out, a lot of these laws are really thinly veiled statements of "women are the weaker sex, and can't be trusted with their bodies or making decisions". When most people think of statutory rape, they think of an older male and a younger female: that's just how we're conditioned, like our Victorian forebears, to think of it. It has nothing to do with maturity or age or protecting the children, and everything to do with maintaining the notion that women are delicate little flowers who must be protected from a harsh world. And if those same delicate flowers also should be protected from ever making decisions about their own body, well all the better! That recently the female statutory rapists are actually getting sentenced more recently equal to their male counterparts is little more than a belated piece of equality, a late twist to these social mores.

This case was a complete crap decision. Even if convicted, the judge should have used some latitude in sentencing. The proper 'judgement' would have been at most some punitive measure- community service, a fine to pay off, probation, etc- that did not remove the father for 18 or more months, nor saddle him with a record that will make future employment and supporting his family far more difficult. Let's not kid ourselves with hypotheticals and theoretical abstracts to manufacture some reason why this case had to be decided this way (I mean, what if the terrorists had put the location of a nuclear bomb inside this girl, and having sex with her at 13 was the only way to get that information? You'd want Jack Bauer to have that right, surely- what are you, siding with the terrorists?!).

We all know perfectly well from previous go-rounds on this story that this case was prosecuted solely for some political wanna-be to beef up his future candidacy for elected office.
posted by hincandenza at 10:43 AM on February 8, 2006


Slate article examining the belief that women who have sex with boys are being treated more leniently.
posted by transona5 at 10:51 AM on February 8, 2006


funambulist - Well, what if she were three, but she looked at him with those big dewey eyes, in that special way...
posted by bshort at 10:55 AM on February 8, 2006


It has nothing to do with maturity or age or protecting the children, and everything to do with maintaining the notion that women are delicate little flowers who must be protected from a harsh world

More like children are delicate and must be protected from predators.
posted by shmegegge at 11:05 AM on February 8, 2006


Half of that new families earning power is destroyed in the short term and severely hampered by his criminal record in the long term. - BeerGrin

Likely he's moe than half their earning potential. Your average 15 yr old has a lot less earning potential than your average 23 year old.
posted by raedyn at 11:15 AM on February 8, 2006


"...and to say that a 13 year old is capable of deciding on a sexual partner in full knowledge of herself and the role of sexuality in her life is absurd."

A valid point but...if two 13 year olds copulate shouldn't they both be charged with sexual assault or do they "cancel each other out" since neither party can give consent?
posted by MikeMc at 11:23 AM on February 8, 2006


I find it interesting that people here are up in arms about the child & family being harmed in only this particular case. For a very large number of men and women who end up in jail, there are children & families who are also punished. But you don't hear much about it in those other cases.

As to the rest of this, I'm not sure what my opinion is.
posted by dame at 11:37 AM on February 8, 2006


I don't have the time to sort through Nexis and recreate all of Slate's research, but I do know that at least one example in the story seems to bias their results in favor of the idea that women are treated just as harshly for sexual assault on minors.
Mary LeTourneau was indeed sentenced to 7 years, but the judge suspended all but 3 months based on certain conditions (which she failed to meet). In other words, the sentences look a lot tougher until you get into the details. Maybe this is just an exception, but I have a feeling that in general men are not given as many opportunities for suspended sentences and/or short jail terms.
posted by wabashbdw at 11:38 AM on February 8, 2006


A valid point but...if two 13 year olds copulate shouldn't they both be charged with sexual assault or do they "cancel each other out" since neither party can give consent?

Well, they're both minors, so it's going to be an entirely different scenario.
posted by bshort at 11:42 AM on February 8, 2006


MikeMc: That's a good point which brings up one of the most absurd aspects of 'statutory rape' laws. I think some of them make exceptions to prosecution as long as the 'offender' is within a reasonable age difference to the 'victim'. I could be wrong about that, though.

So if you are 19 years old, it is more acceptable to society for you to go fuck a 93-year old great-grandma with altzheimer's than to take your 15-year old girlfriend to lover's lane.
posted by wabashbdw at 11:46 AM on February 8, 2006


wabashbdw writes "So if you are 19 years old, it is more acceptable to society for you to go fuck a 93-year old great-grandma with altzheimer's than to take your 15-year old girlfriend to lover's lane."

Simply not true. If the 93 year old has alzheimer's and is not compis mentis, it would be at least an investigatable offense for the 19 year old to have sex with her. But, your larger point shows that you aren't really interested in understand the dynamics here, just in reacting emotionally to the idea that there are times when sex should reasonably be forbidden between people. The 19 year old and the 93 year old are considered adults, they are considered to have reached the age of sexual maturity which lends to their choices the sanction of law. The 15 year old has not reached that legal definition of maturity.

(And, not incidentally, your rhetorical strategy of making sex with older people gross almost by definition, while younger people go traipsing off to "lover's lane" is only slightly more distasteful than your choice of a 15 year old in your example rather than the 13 year old in the story.)
posted by OmieWise at 12:19 PM on February 8, 2006


I'm hearing a lot of people saying "immature" in quotes as though it were ridiculous to say that maturity matters in determining an age for consensual sex. It's not about schoolyard maturity, where we're talking about who called who names and who was being immature about it. It's about sexual and personal identity development. Human beings do not develop a strong sense of personal identity until their mid to late teens, in an overwhelming majority of cases. Their sexuality is a major part of this development, and to say that a 13 year old is capable of deciding on a sexual partner in full knowledge of herself and the role of sexuality in her life is absurd. It's even more absurd to consider that she's experienced enough of life to be able to choose a partner in marriage by that age, and understand what that means for the rest of her life.

I can't speak for everyone, but I put "immature" in quotes because it is a word that absolutely must be defined in clear terms within this specific context if it is going to be used as a yardstick for statutory rape. Most people seem to simply equate a certain age with immaturity (>18 = immature). For instance, in your (cited) comment you don't really get into exactly why you think that it is "absurd" that a 13 year old is capable of deciding on a sexual partner in full knowledge of herself, etc. For me to understand your argument you would have to do so. In fact you would also have to also explain why it would be "absurd" for a 17 year old to do the same. You see, my contention is not whether or not in general 13 year olds are innocent or aware of their sexuality, my argument is that a law that puts a blanket sex prohibition on every single citizen under the age of 18 is itself absurd.

That's my problem with statutory rape. You (and the legislators) have decided that every single person under the age of 18 is incapable of making decisions regarding sex. I don't agree with this. I would like to see the entire notion of statutory rape done away with. Alternatively, in cases where adults have what appears to be consensual sex with "minors", I would prefer that it be proven in a court of law that the particular individual involved was somehow coerced into sex or truly incapable of making decisions for themselves (like in the case of say a mentally handicapped person).

None of us know these people, we only know their ages. Simply assuming things about people you don't know is unwise. As I said earlier people are far too complex for that.


By the way, I'd be interested in seeing those studies you were going to link to.
posted by sic at 12:27 PM on February 8, 2006


Are you saying that there were widespread ill effects on young brides during colonial times related to the fact that they were too "immature" to handle sex?

Well it depends on the age that you are talking about, but yeah, sex can hurt, you know, especially if you are a petite woman who hasn't grown to full size yet. Things tear. Things bleed. It's not fun.

Plus there's the whole dealing with childbirth well before full growth is achieved. Babies barely fit through the birth canal as it is, and you're okay with setting things up so that the female pelvis is even smaller when that little noggin comes through? And you don't think that had bad effects way back when?

Look up "fistula" and "Africa" for an idea of what happens when very young girls have babies without modern medical science there to help. It ain't pretty. (And those are the ones who survive).
posted by beth at 12:38 PM on February 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Beth, that's exactly what I was thinking. 14 year olds in South America marrying (or in any culture) is an interesting lesson in socio-cultural change, but one of the reasons we have such low infant and perinatal maternal mortality is the higher age at marraige.
13 year olds who are sexualised by their culture are not necessarily mature, and yes, there are mature 13 year olds who have sex. The issue is where any particular society draws the line and Kansan did it here.
That said, it is such a political football....
posted by Wilder at 1:07 PM on February 8, 2006


sorry, higher age at marraige and childbirth, I don't equate the 2!!
posted by Wilder at 1:08 PM on February 8, 2006


Sorry, OmniWise, but regardless of how poorly you read my post, my point is still valid. I think that many people over the age of 90 suffer from some form of mental deficiency whereby they may not be fully capable to understand the decisions they make. Certainly not all, maybe not most, but enough that it would make sense for us to include 'over-90' within the statutory rape age brackets. That way it saves us from ever having to actually waste our time determining their mental competency (or consider any factors of the situation at all). I figure if it works at one end of the age spectrum, it probably applies to the other as well.

And my 'rhetorical strategy' was not misleading or distateful at all. The thought of sex with 90-year-olds IS gross by definition. And a person aged 15 years is still covered under stat.rape laws, aren't they, so if we are debating the law then what does it matter if the girl in the story was 13?
posted by wabashbdw at 1:33 PM on February 8, 2006


I think the most important question is wether or not he is being charged for conduct before, or after the wedding.

If it is conduct after the wedding, then Nebraska is saying, "we don't recognize the marriages and contracts of other states when we disagree with them" This is a profoundly bad thing to have happen in the US. It is the top of a very slippery slope.

As an aside, how can they prove sex in Nebraska? They can't make a wife testify, and the infant could have been conceived legally in Kansas.
posted by Megafly at 2:34 PM on February 8, 2006


You (and the legislators) have decided that every single person under the age of 18 is incapable of making decisions regarding sex.

16 in Nebraska, not 18. At least get the numbers right. You also seem to be ignoring that most states don't treat similar-age sex as statutory rape -- usually there's no blanket prohibition on 15-year-olds fumbling around, there's a prohibition on 25-year-olds from nailing 15-year-olds.

Nobody is saying that 13 year olds are effectively retarded, so your analogy to the mentally handicapped isn't really very good. People, or at least me, are saying that 13 year olds are, by virtue of their immaturity, easily manipulated by adults so that their apparent consent is not really consent, but merely the end-result of manipulation. And absent real and true consent, whatcha got there is rape.

No doubt there is at least one precocious 13-year-old out there somewhere who is beyond this, who actually has the emotional and psychological maturity to be basically beyond this sort of manipulation. Fine. If that person really wants to get it on with an adult, let the kid come before a judge to establish this maturity and be treated as properly consenting.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:35 PM on February 8, 2006


Nobody is saying that 13 year olds are effectively retarded, so your analogy to the mentally handicapped isn't really very good. People, or at least me, are saying that 13 year olds are, by virtue of their immaturity, easily manipulated by adults so that their apparent consent is not really consent, but merely the end-result of manipulation. And absent real and true consent, whatcha got there is rape.

What strikes me is that people in favor of this law keep arguing about 13 year olds and young people they are absolutely certain are too "immature" to make their own decisions regarding sex, but that's unfair, and in some ways beside the point. If you are going to defend this law you can't pick and choose your cases. It's easy to say "what if a 30 year old man is fucking an 8 year old girl!"

But that type of reasoning clouds sound judgement.

If you are going to defend this law you have to defend how a 19 year old woman sleeping with her 17 year old boyfriend is statutory rape with the same intensity as you defend its use to prosecute a 21 year old man having sex with a 13 year old girl. If you can't defend both cases with equal conviction maybe you have to rethink your views because this law encompasses both situations.

My argument is and always has been that if a child is being "raped" or sexually abused we can use rape and sexual abuse laws or even child abuse laws to judge the perpetrator. But statutory rape as a legal instrument lacks nuance and is inflexible, therefore it is dangerous in my eyes.
posted by sic at 3:02 PM on February 8, 2006


It's the same reason why you can't vote till you're 18.
Yet interestingly enough, if you get a job when you're sixteen and a half years old, you pay taxes. Thus, taxation without representation.
posted by nlindstrom at 3:25 PM on February 8, 2006


I'm surprised that so many of you are defending an adult who had sex with a 13 year old, when he wasn't married to her. Even if you think that marriage should immunize him from prosecution for any sexual relations that occurred during the marriage --- the fact remains that he molested a thirteen year old.

The following passage caught my eye: Kansas does not have a minimum age to marry, though parental consent or court approval is required for minors. A bill now before the Kansas Legislature, however, would ban anyone 15 and under from getting married.

So, if the article's description of Kansas law is correct, a ninteen year old could have had sex with a seven year old girl; then, under Kansas law, her kooky parents decided to let him marry her; they get married; and, by the logic of many comments here, the fact that they were now married would make the sex crime okay.
posted by jayder at 3:28 PM on February 8, 2006


Jayder's post is a good example of what I was talking about in mine.
posted by sic at 3:33 PM on February 8, 2006


Sic, it would be wonderful if every law could be applied on a "case by case basis." But that is impossible. That's why we have legislatures, to pass laws that goven classes of conduct that are defined by certain enumerated criteria.

It is hilariously naive for you to whine about how "some" thirteen year olds might be mature enough to have sex with an adult. Who would decide which ones were mature enough? Don't the benefits of outlawing sexual exploitation of children outweigh any costs there might be in preventing a tiny, tiny number of "mature" thirteen year olds, who, you seem to think, are ready to have sex with adults?

I cannot believe we are having this argument. If any law should be uncontroversial, it seems to me, it is a law prohibiting adults from having sex with young children. To put it mildly, I think your passionate defense of adult-child sex is shocking.
posted by jayder at 3:46 PM on February 8, 2006


The Full Faith and Credit Clause has always been subject to the "public policy exception," which permits states to refuse to recognize or enforce the pronouncements of another state if they have a strong public policy against doing so. This has been recognized repeatedly during the same-sex marriage debates. If Nebraska has a strong, extant, articulated public policy against adults having sex with 13 year olds (which it apparently does) it need not recognize their marriage at all.
posted by amber_dale at 3:49 PM on February 8, 2006


People, or at least me, are saying that 13 year olds are, by virtue of their immaturity, easily manipulated by adults so that their apparent consent is not really consent, but merely the end-result of manipulation.

Thank you for making this point.
posted by beth at 3:52 PM on February 8, 2006


If you are going to defend this law you have to defend how a 19 year old woman sleeping with her 17 year old boyfriend is statutory rape with the same intensity as you defend its use to prosecute a 21 year old man having sex with a 13 year old girl. If you can't defend both cases with equal conviction maybe you have to rethink your views because this law encompasses both situations.

This is why some statuatory rape laws are written with rolling age limits in place. As in, people below the age of consent can have sex with people within X years of their own age without their partners fearing prosecution. So a 14 year old could sleep with a 16 year old, and a 16 year old could sleep with an 18 year old, but an 18 year old couldn't sleep with a 16 year old.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:57 PM on February 8, 2006


If you are going to defend this law you have to defend how a 19 year old woman sleeping with her 17 year old boyfriend is statutory rape with the same intensity as you defend its use to prosecute a 21 year old man having sex with a 13 year old girl.

No, I don't.

I can easily draw a line between people very near in age, where there is less of a presumption that the minor is being manipulated. A couple who are 21 and 13 is not the same as one who is 19 and 17, or 17 and 15.

And I can easily draw a line between a 13-year-old and a 17-year old on the basis of increasing expected maturity. Indeed, most of the laws in the US already do make that distinction, viewing 17-year-olds as fully mature to decide who they want to fuck. In fact, the very law in question makes that distinction.

If you can't defend both cases with equal conviction maybe you have to rethink your views because this law encompasses both situations.

That's plain-old flat out wrong. Factually incorrect. I mean, Karl H. Marx on a pogo stick, this is right in the fucking article. Nebraska law forbids people over 18 from having sex with people under 16. It does not forbid 19 year olds from screwing 17 year olds.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:57 PM on February 8, 2006


How were they legally married in the first place then?
posted by Smedleyman at 4:13 PM on February 8, 2006


Sigh, I messed up my numbers up there and didn't notice it until I was looking at the thread in 'my comments'. But an 18 year old can't sleep with a 14 year old was where I was trying to go.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:33 PM on February 8, 2006


wabashbdw writes "enough that it would make sense for us to include 'over-90' within the statutory rape age brackets."

Well, the issue is precisely that there isn't much of a push to sexually abuse elders. Even if all of your contingent statements are true, which is by no means certain, there is markedly less danger to individual seniors. No one in the thread is arguing that any law would be a good law, just that laws that protect a group frequently the target of sexual predators is.

wabashbdw writes "And a person aged 15 years is still covered under stat.rape laws, aren't they, so if we are debating the law then what does it matter if the girl in the story was 13?"

It matters because it's harder to argue for the inclusion of older teenagers in the group covered by such a law, so talking about 15 year old girls makes the law seem more ridiculous than talking about 13 year olds might. That's why I called it a rhetorical strategy, which it is, and not an untruth, which it isn't. One can argue about the correct age at which to draw the line for statutory rape laws, but if you want to argue that such laws are stupid it's a much easier sell when you use a 15 yo in your example rather than a 13 yo.

(I don't really care what you call me, but my username is OmieWise. OmniWise suggests a level of conceit that I just don't possess, no matter how much I might disagree with you.)
posted by OmieWise at 4:47 PM on February 8, 2006


How were they legally married in the first place then?

They went to Kansas, which has no minimum age for marriage.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:29 PM on February 8, 2006


jayder

You seem to be saying that for any given law, there will be a majority of cases that it works well for, and a minority of outliers that it harms, and we should stick to it 100% even if a rational objective person would disagree with some individual cases.

Clearly, it's the child (and relatedly, the career of the father) that is going to be harmed here.

There is something called the letter and the spirit of the law, and this decision clearly violates the spirit of the law, if not the letter.
posted by Lectrick at 5:55 PM on February 8, 2006


On Manipulation vs. Love

I don't like this idea/get this distinction, that anyone below the legal age is "manipulated" while anyone above the legal age is "in love" or just f*cking legally, or whatever. What kind of arbitrary line is that??

I'm 33 and single and I can be manipulated by certain kinds of women to this day. Perhaps I'm still a bit emotionally immature, but I think that if a person had 100% defense against manipulation, that person would die alone. I have heard from countless husbands who (after the romance has died down) feel that they were blindsided into a marriage... and perhaps that's the way it should be.

You folks who have been in love- you know what it's like. It sweeps you away like a riptide.... Perhaps one would not call this kind of marriage a "mature" love, but really, it's not your business to say that, and actually, I think it's a little elitist, as there are tons of so-called "middle-class" people getting married young every day. If it felt strong enough for them to forsake all others and stand before God (or a judge) to commit for life, it should be a protected marriage.
posted by Lectrick at 6:03 PM on February 8, 2006


This is a bit of a tangent, but if you're interested, Ariela Dubler, a law professor at Columbia, has an article in the latest edition of the Yale Law Journal called Immoral Purposes: Marriage and the Genus of Illicit Sex. The abstract:
In Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court situates its opinion within the history of laws banning sodomy. Lawrence, however, is also part of another historical narrative: the history of attempts by federal lawmakers and judges to define the relationships among the genus of illicit sex, the genus of licit sex, and marriage. Viewed from this perspective, Lawrence marks the latest intervention in a legal conversation that began when Congress enacted the 1907 Immigration Act and the 1910 Mann Act, each of which prohibited the movement of women across borders—the former, international, the latter, interstate—for “immoral purposes.” In the early twentieth century, through these provisions, lawmakers and judges constructed an isomorphic relationship between marriage/nonmarriage and licit sex/illicit sex. The “marriage cure” transported sex across the illicit/licit divide. But courts and legislators came to view these curative powers as a threat to marriage’s place in the sociolegal order because individuals used marriage as a tool to evade legal penalties. Thus, they checked the powers of the marriage cure and, in so doing, uncoupled both parts of their original isomorphism. Lawrence represents the culmination of this process: the movement of a sexual relationship across the illicit/licit divide at least in part because it made no claim to marriage. This move reflects the persistent status of marriage as simultaneously powerful in its ability to confer legal privileges and to shield people from the dangers of sexual illicitness, and powerless to protect itself from the taint of those same illicit practices.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:42 PM on February 8, 2006


If you think this law is so unfair, I guess that means that a lot of laws meant to protect children are unfair ... and you'd agree with the following statements:

--- "Sure, most children shouldn't be posing for sexually explicit photographs, but SOME children are mature enough to make a free choice to do so. That's why it's so fucking puritanical to pass a sweeping law, prohibiting pornography based on the age of the model. The law should recognize that some children are ready to express their sexuality in this way."

--- "Many thirteen year olds benefit from being in school instead of working, but what about those very mature thirteen year olds who are ready to start their manufacturing careers? Why shouldn't they be working twelve hour shifts at the factory? You say that some kids would be taken advantage of by their bosses ... but so are a lot of adults!"
posted by jayder at 6:46 PM on February 8, 2006


Kansas seems to have some internal conflicts here. In related news: Kansas wants all underage sex reported as possible abuse, even consensual sex between people of similar age.

Meanwhile, age at puberty keeps dropping.
posted by dilettante at 7:22 PM on February 8, 2006


It seems like it was a different world then. Child Marriage in Ancient India:
In India during the 1860’s, marriage meant girls getting married below 8 or 9 years old. Socio-reform religious movements such as the Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj pioneered work against child marriage. Late in the 1860’s some success was met when the Indian Penal Code prohibited intercourse with a wife who had not reached ten years of age.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until 1880 that child marriage as a problem became a public issue in India during the debate on the Age of Consent Bill. Towards the end of the debate a child wife of eleven years old, Named Phulmani, died when her husband raped her. More than 500 women doctors sent a memorandum to the Viceroy requesting him to stop marriage of girls below 14 years of age. The resulting bill compromised at 12 years old.
But in some places today, things have not changed much. From the United Nations report, State of the World Population 2005 — Child Marriage Factsheet:
In some countries, more than half of all girls under 18 are married. Specifically, the percentage of girls (aged 15 to 19) married by age 18 is:

• 76 percent in Niger
• 74 per cent in the Democratic Republic of Congo
• 54 per cent in Afghanistan
50 per cent in India
• 51 per cent in Bangladesh

While age at marriage is generally increasing, it is not uncommon to find girls married before age 15.

• In Ethiopia and some areas of West Africa, some girls get married as early as age 7.
• In Bangladesh, 45 per cent of young women between 25 and 29 were married by age 15.
• A 1998 survey in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh found that nearly 14 per cent of girls were married between the ages of l0 and 14.
• In Kebbi State of northern Nigeria, the average age of marriage for girls is just over 11 years, compared to a national average of 17.
Should the government or the parents ultimately decide the age of a bride?
posted by cenoxo at 7:29 PM on February 8, 2006


jayder - well done.
posted by bshort at 7:31 PM on February 8, 2006


sic, your argument lacks a reasonable alternative to what you consider an unfair law. The only solution you've proposed is the abolition of statutory rape entirely, without providing an alternative to effectively prosecute child molestation or consensual sex with someone who is frankly too young to be doing so. While a flat age for all cases is not always fair and might be replaced by something better, I don't know what that something better is and you haven't provided it.

You say that we have to vehemently defend the right to prosecute a 19 year old who sleeps with their 17 year old partner.

funny thing is, we don't. this is a policy debate, not one of values. Real world circumstance and the lack of a better alternative very much come into play, here. For one, it is exceedingly rare for teenagers to get arrested for screwing, when they're that close in age. The reason for this is that the discretion you're seeking happens at the enforcement level, 99%+ of the time. Written law simply cannot account for every eventuality, and no one reasonable expects it to. The cops understand this, legislators understand this, but you don't seem to. Maybe it's not a perfect system, but it's the best I've heard of thus far.

those studies were easily found on my school's database, which I no longer have access to. It's proving difficult to find them online, elsewhere. If you'd like to, you may assume I'm lying about them if you'd like, no matter how wrong you would be to do so.
posted by shmegegge at 9:06 PM on February 8, 2006


so, for the people here who think that people shouldn't judge the 'maturity' of a 12/13 yr old (or less) girl to have sex with a man who is going on a decade older than her, would you be fine with it if one of these men in their 20s came calling for your 13 year old daughter, 12/13 year sister, etc? or what if someone comes for your son or brother of that age? i think not.

there is a huge difference between tween/teens (say that 3x fast) fumbling around with one another, and someone significantly older who targets someone significantly younger for sex. they are called paedophiles and bad things should happen to them.

and talking about the age of consent in the 1800s is just asinine. it's 2006, and more is known about the negative effect of this sort of shit. get your heads out of your fucking asses and grow some brains. adults having sex with kids should not be going on. and if you are an adult, and some kid does hit on you - it happens - decline politely, and make sure you're again never alone with the kid.

and yes, i was molested - that's the right word for it by the way - at 6 (many times by someone 8 - 10 years or so older) and 12 (once, by someone in their 30s, i think he was, who ALSO got his own daughter pregnant when she was 15).
posted by TrinityB5 at 9:13 PM on February 8, 2006


bshort: Well, what if she were three, but she looked at him with those big dewey eyes, in that special way...

jayder: If you think this law is so unfair, I guess that means that a lot of laws meant to protect children are unfair ... and you'd agree with the following statements... [we should legalise child porn and abolish compulsory school attendance]

Riiiight. You two are really, really funny.

Sure, just because someone disagrees with this sentence, then it means we must be supporting peadophilia, child porn, and the right for teenagers to choose if they want to go to school or not.

What kind of logic is that? You seriously don't see a difference between this case and child porn, abuse, paedophilia? No difference between a 13 year old and an 8 year old? What's that thing, what's it called, puberty, does that ring any bells?

You never ever knew anyone at 13 who was sexually active? And maybe even slept with someone who was 18, 20, or even, god forbid, 21? How extremely rare and unheard of.

No one is saying everyone should start having sex at 13. But when it's post-puberal teenagers - and puberty comes at around that age, not at 8, but doesn't come at the same exact age for everyone - it's rather obtuse to consider it impossible that any 13 year old might have consensual sex. That it must be rape just because they're 1 or 3 years under the age of consent, depending where they live (surely human beings are the same across diferent countries, only laws change). Of course they're not adults. Of course they're not mature as a 30 year old, duh. Neither is a 14 year old or a 16 year old. But they're no longer children either. They're post-puberal teenagers. I agree with the principle of an arbitrary age of consent, but I also think it should take a lot more intelligence from the part of judges who are dealing with cases brought before them, a lot more flexibility in understanding each case before deciding it's a case of rape just because of a literal application of that necessarily arbitrary law.


I understand, in this case, the judge may not have had that room for flexibility, but I still don't think this sentence is particuarly helpful because: by all accounts, theirs and their families, Crystal and Matthew Koso did have consensual sex; and they had a baby, got married (crazy as it is, and yeah, there should be a higher limit there) with the consent of the family and they're willing to stay together and raise this baby together -- no, this is not a brilliant thing to do when you're so young, and so ignorant of contraception (let's not open that door), but these are all fait accompli, and with relatively positive results: they love each other, want to bring up the baby together, etc. What good does it do to send him to jail, why disrupt their lives like this? And what about the baby?

I agree with hincandenza that while still applying the law, the judge could perhaps have opted for a different sentence, one that fully considered and accepted the peculiar circumstances of this case and the best interests of all parties involved, rather than sticking to the harshest literal interpretation just to prove a point.

If you want to read this as support for paedophilia, well, go ahead, and while you're at it please include anything else you might fancy in that ridiculous slippery slope. It's certainly not my argument you're undermining by doing that.
posted by funambulist at 12:28 AM on February 9, 2006


What good does it do to send him to jail, why disrupt their lives like this? And what about the baby?

I don't see why having this guy around is a plus. He seems a skeezeball; he's repeatedly gone after different barely-pubescent kids.

Why on earth would anyone think that this marriage, out of all of them, is going to stand the test of time? That this marriage, unlike other shotgun marriages, is a good thing instead of compounding one mistake (or crime) with another?

I think that getting him out of the picture for a while is probably a good thing, because he doesn't seem like someone good to have around. Some husbands are worse than being a single mom. Any husband in this situation is likely to walk out at some point, protestations of love notwithstanding. This husband in particular has a habit of going after very young girls, which can only make it more likely than normal that he'll walk out to look for some new seventh-grader in addition to the chance that he'll walk out simply due to the stresses or to the scales falling from his eyes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:38 AM on February 9, 2006


But in some places today, things have not changed much. From the United Nations report, State of the World Population 2005 — Child Marriage Factsheet:

In some countries, more than half of all girls under 18 are married. Specifically, the percentage of girls (aged 15 to 19) married by age 18 is:

• 76 percent in Niger
• 74 per cent in the Democratic Republic of Congo
• 54 per cent in Afghanistan
• 50 per cent in India
• 51 per cent in Bangladesh


100% in Colorado City, AZ

Sorry to harp on this point. :)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:43 AM on February 9, 2006


Lectrick writes "On Manipulation vs. Love

"I don't like this idea/get this distinction, that anyone below the legal age is 'manipulated' while anyone above the legal age is 'in love' or just f*cking legally, or whatever. What kind of arbitrary line is that??"


Yeah, that isn't at all what anyone is suggesting. The issue is whether or not we can have a reasonable expectation, based on emotional maturity (for which we only have the generalized shorthand of age), about the ability of people to tell the difference between the two, and the self-assurance to act on their conclusions. It isn't really that hard to understand, and it isn't witchcraft or dangerous paternalism. That doesn't mean that you have to agree with those of us who think statutory rape laws are a good idea, but if you stopped being amazed at the notion for long enough you might realize that even if you feel powerless in the face of love, your 30yo self has much more power than you 13yo self could ever have had.
posted by OmieWise at 7:48 AM on February 9, 2006


ROU_Xenophobe, those are not assumptions that a court can deliberate on. They applied a law on statutory rape, not a law on unwise destined-to-fail marriages with skeezeballs (eh I never heard that word).

He's gonna be out in a couple of years anyway so the law can't prevent him going back to his family.
posted by funambulist at 9:35 AM on February 9, 2006


You argued against sending him to jail on the grounds that it would hurt his family: "What good does it do to send him to jail, why disrupt their lives like this?" ROU_Xenophobe countered that it might be better for his family. If the court should deliberate on the first argument, why not the second?
posted by transona5 at 11:48 AM on February 9, 2006


Hmm, not sure if that's a fair point, because what I had in mind is that it would have been more helpful in my view to consider the actual facts and circumstances of the case and not just the letter of the law, ie. that according to all the sexual relation was very obviously consensual, that there was a marriage and a baby; what you're asking for there is for the court to establish entirely by way of assumptions if the relationship and marriage and fatherhood should continue at all in the future. It's a different thing, no?
posted by funambulist at 1:51 PM on February 9, 2006


Well, I'm assuming that the court has more insight into this than we do, and they could probably find mental health professionals who could have a more informed opinion on whether having him around is good for her (the "consensual" part is exactly where the gray area is.) I'm not sure I think they should be doing that, but if they're going to take into account the negative impact of removing his financial support, they should also take into account any positive impact of her being on her own.
posted by transona5 at 5:39 PM on February 9, 2006


But she's not going to be on her own forever, only for two years; he still is the recognised father of her baby and the marriage is still valid.

And I just don't see anything that points to the courts having deliberated on those grounds, of preventing them from ever getting back together. They just condemned the beginning of their relation because of that age issue, and yes, despite all pointers to the contrary they deliberated at that time it was not consensual. When he's out, she's going to be over 16, at which point they won't be able to do anything about it.
posted by funambulist at 1:51 AM on February 10, 2006


despite all pointers to the contrary they deliberated at that time it was not consensual. - funambulist

Statutory rape is different than other rape charges because even if the underage person wanted the sex, it is still illegal. I think the theory goes something like this: Kids are not able to make an informed decision, and are likely to be unduly influenced by the adult in the situation, so it's not possible for them to give consent. Anytime an adult is having sex with a kid, they're taking advantage of an inherent inequality of power. The idea in general makes sense to me. What year to put the cut off limit at is tricky and unclear.
posted by raedyn at 7:40 AM on February 10, 2006


« Older It's dactylfractal time.......  |  Updatefilter: George C. Deutsc... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments