Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Common-sense change


Common sense may soon become part of Idaho laws against rape.

The state's current law is strict. Girls under the age of 18 cannot consent to sexual relations—period, end of story.

That means that in a Montague and Capulet situation, a young Romeo may risk prosecution, prison time and a lifetime of derision and discrimination as a sex offender in pursuing his Juliet.

The state Legislature this week approved loosening the law on statutory rape to reflect the fact that consensual sex between people in their late teens is not always rape. The change awaits approval by the governor.

The revised law would reduce the female age of consent to 16 or 17 if the young man involved were within three years older than she. It would solve a problem that prosecutors and juries around the state face periodically when presented with rape allegations against a young man who has had consensual sex with a girlfriend of 16 or 17 years old.

Outraged parents, guardians or zealous prosecutors sometimes feel compelled to bring rape charges—rape or no rape—knowing that young males have no defense and that the law renders consenting females silent in the matter.

Statutory rape laws would remain in effect for females under the age of 16 and for adult male perpetrators aged 18 and up.

The legislation was proposed by Rep. Brent Hill, whose highly conservative district includes Rexburg and Brigham Young University North.

Idahoans should welcome the change in the law because it will inject fairness and justice where none exists today.




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