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Friday, January 25, 2013

Tennessee Supreme Court considers whether minor is an accomplice in her own statutory rape

Can a minor consent to sex with an adult?

From the piece:

Believe it or not, under Tennessee common law, it is possible for a minor sex crime victim to also be an accomplice in the crime. The issue turns on whether that victim voluntarily consented to the sexual activity. If your head is swimming after that last sentence, you are not alone. The very idea of statutory rape is that some kinds of sexual encounters are legally impossible to consent to per se—such as the one between a forty-two-year-old man and a fourteen-year-old girl. Yet in Tennessee a string of cases suggest the pernicious idea that minors are culpable in their victimization is not at all a thing of the past.

The rule that a child sex crime victim can also be an accomplice in the crime committed against them first emerged from an 1895 case in which a Tennessee court found no "evidence of force" in a case involving an uncle having sex with his niece. Because there was no evidence of force, the court upheld a decision to convict them both of the crime of incest, embracing the idea that "evidence of force" is the same thing as "evidence of consent" and suggesting that even in the case of minors an absence of such evidence suggests culpability in the crime by the victim.


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