Statutory rape law change headed for Senate vote


Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, says it will take two years of data for an accurate comparison of health insurance rates in Idaho under Obamacare.

The Idaho Senate will vote on whether or not to extend Idaho’s age-of-consent law to allow teenagers to have consensual sex without breaking state law. The Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee unanimously supported the proposed law change after hearing opposition from prosecutors.

“Right now we have a statute that can literally destroy the life of a young man,” said Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. His legislation to amend Idaho’s rape laws would allow 16-year-old and 17-year-old teenagers to have consensual sex with partners who are up to three years older than they are. Hill said 35 states, including Idaho, all have age-of-consent laws set at 16. “Laws that have the potential to destroy the lives of innocent people need to be changed.”  The state’s forced rape laws would not be changed.

Bonneville County Prosecutor Dane Watkins Jr., president of the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association, spoke against extending the law. “Non-coerced contact between two adolescents is typically not charged without some aggravating factor,” he said. Watkins said that changing the law would close a window of opportunity for prosecutors. Watkins said that in many incidents, prosecutors have insufficient evidence to charge young men with forcible rape or other abusive behavior. “What we look for in those types of circumstances is exploitive behavior,” he said. He added that his office used discretion earlier this week not to prosecute a case of statutory rape. “I like the statute where it is. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to turn the 48 percent of juveniles that are sexually active into criminals.”

Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, asked why prosecutors should have the discretion to decide the fate of a young man. “A young victim may be in a relationship where consent might not easily be refused, where you are short on the forcible rape statute,” Watkins responded.

Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Fisher said the current law protects wayward young girls who may not have parents looking out for them. “Why make our law less protective just because Washington or Oregon has?” She said prosecutors are clearly using discretion properly. An Idaho Department of Education survey from 2009 showed that 48 percent of high school seniors have had sexual intercourse. “If 48 percent of high school students are having sex, 48 percent of them are not being prosecuted,” Fisher said.

Renee McKenzie, the wife of Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, who described herself as conservative Republican mother, supports expanding the consent law. She said she’s works for her husband’s criminal law practice, which is defending several cases of statutory rape. “These boys’ lives are ending, even before they’ve begun,” she said. “I don’t think we should condone sexual acts between teens. But sending teens boys to prison isn’t the answer either.”

Read IdahoReporter.com’s first story on Hill’s change to state rape laws here. The text of the legislation is available here.

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  1. Patricia Gearo

    Cobb County Adult Detention Center and Juvenile Detention Center in Marietta, Georgia has a lot of inmates that are teenagers involved in consensual sexual relations. Majority are Black Teen Males ages 16 and up arrested over promiscuous White Teen Females ages 14 and up. The teen females should be incarcerated too! Actually it is rediculous to arrest teenagers over non-forcible rape cases. These Statutory cases need to take the word rape from the case. When you think of “rape” you imagine by force, against the alleged victim’s will. Teenagers are allowed to date and with dating some are engaging in kissing, heavy petting, and lead to sexual acts. Why is the legal system pimping teenagers from mutual consensual acts? This is an American Tragedy! Shame on the Criminal Justice System!

  2. Pingback: Change in statutory rape law headed to House « Idaho Reporter

  3. Mrs. F.

    I had a boyfriend who had just turned 18 and I 16 at the time, and he ended up cheating on me and then going to jail because the girl did not want to be grounded for being late for her curfue so she cried rape to her mom and because they had just had sex the rape test came through. things like this are not right. He ended up spending some time in prison and through out this the girl ended up feeling bad so she told the police the truth about how he didnt rape her that it was consensual sex. they should make it so this can not happen its not right!

  4. Mary J.

    As a 17 year girl I have had many issues with the statuory rape law. It rarely protects young girls like it is meant to, and in fact often puts them in bad situations. When an underage girl is sleeping with a boy who is over the age of consent she often feels that it is her responsibility to make sure that he does not become a victim of this law. In order to keep the overage boy they are sleeping with safe from this law girls will often lie about their relationship, and terminate pregnancies if they feel that the father could get in trouble. If you ask me, this law puts young girls in bad situations much more often that it protects them.

  5. idk

    i think it should be at least four years apart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! like a fifteen and a nineteen year old… whats wrong with that?

  6. D. Bond

    My grandson is at Cottonwood now because of consensual sex with a 15 year old girl he was 18. He was charged with statutory rape. He will suffer for this the rest of his life. It seems so ridiculous when it happens all the time. Only the unlucky ones pay such a huge price.

  7. Kathy B. Fissher

    The statatory rape laws feed into the Megan’s Law creates Invaluable human beings, The leparcy of our time all at the tax payers expense. The laws were created to feed the public trouth and now the laws are robbing the public because of the expenses to incarcerrate, follow the regestrant and label the labelled as depressed or non fuctionable which makes them eligable for Social secutiry benifits because of the high number of suicides and attempted suicudes. Shouldn’t the tax payers be doing something better with there money.

  8. John Doe

    I statutory rape is just away to destroy lives and take away rights. yeah sure sex is an “adult” thing but teens are doing it. getting young men send to prison for it doesnt solve anything all it does is have a reason for more taxes, more lives ruined, babies with out a parent. I DONT THINK THIS SHOULD BE A LAW AT ALL. i think if someone is WILLING to have sex with some let them. ITS THERE FREEDOM ITS THERE BODY!! if they want to have a kid or have a little fun just let them be. they arent hurting ANYONE.

  9. michigan

    I agree with Patricia. I have two young men in my life who have been affected in this way. They met a young girl on-line, on a social networking site. She carried on conversation with one of the you men for about a month and presented herself as 17 yrs old when in fact she was 15. She live some 3 odd hrs away from these men and gave them directions to her house and snuck them in. After having consentual sex with both, her guardian returned home and she then yelled “rape”. The ages of the young men are 17 and 19 and the girl was 5mo from being 16. Both of the young men are now facing at least a statutory rape charge, will be on the sexual predators list, while this young girl goes on to live her life and no doubt do this again. you see the REALLY MESSED UP PART IS THAT THIS SAME GIRL DID THE SAME THING WHEN SHE WAS 13 ONLY IT INVOLVED A 20 YR OLD MAN WHO SPENT 2 YRS OF HIS LIFE IN PRISON. WHEN WILL THE TIME COME WHEN THESE GIRLS ARE ALSO HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND THESE YOUNG MENS LIVES WON’T BE RUINED BY A GIRL WHO KNOWS WHAT SHE’S DOING EVEN THOUGH THE LAW SAYS SHE DOESN’T. CLEARLY IN THIS CASE SHE DID.

  10. Maddy D.

    I am almost 18 and my boyfriend just barely turned 17 a month ago. If we were to stay together and have consensual sex would I get into trouble? The law states that it has to be an older man and younger woman but I’m not positive I wont get in trouble. His parents are very strict so I dont doubt that they would try to turn me in. If someone can answer that question for me that would be greatly appreciated. As for the new law I think its a great idea! Men are having to throw their lives away because of the old law and its ridiculus! I mean yeah rape is bad and all but why did the girl put herself in that situation if she wasnt intending on doing something? Then there are the girls who do it on purpose! Repeatedly!! This is worse than the actual “rape” case. I feel terrible for michigan’s boys. I never did anything but I am ashamed for anyone that could actually do that. Its pitiful. The three year law will be a GREAT improvement if it happens. WHEN it happens.

  11. Paula Lewis

    My son is now in jail because he believed the posted age a girl had put on her MySpace page. She said she was 19 but was really 14, four months from her 15th birthday. He was 19 when she initiated contact and “friended” him. He “friended” her back. They had consensual sex twice with her breaking into his dorm room the second time while he slept. Now he is a felon and will be on the sexual offender list. His life has ended before it had a chance to begin.

    These young men having their lives ruined and being called rapists for having consensual sex is wrong. Yes forcible rape and child molestation are heinous crimes and deserve harsh punishment. But to lump teenagers having consensual sex under the same legal umbrella is wrong.

    It is doubly wrong that in Idaho it is a strict liability offense and it does not matter if the girl lied about her age!

    If you or anyone you know is facing this nightmare please see my Blog http://www.ProtectYourSons.WordPress.com It is time the families of these young men make our voices heard. It is not enough to just complain about it.

  12. jadon

    I wonder what people would think about Romeo and Juliet nowadays. Furthermore, not to sound sacrilegious but was God a pedophile. Mary was thirteen at the time of conception. If we are a christian nation how come the drastic, ubsurd change in statutory laws in the past fifty years. Moreover, the last decade. I understand the dirty old men out there looking to manipulate a vulnerable teenage girl, but, on the flip side, there are many who are simply looking for sex themselves, and are attracted to older men. But, hey, this is new America; someone else is always to blame. Why are we not accountable for our actions. Why not blame god, biology, the innate cells in our bodies that have evolved for millenias that make us human. Everyone wants to be god. We are human, animal, and will always be. What ever happened to reason. You look at the situation and that is how you hypothesize your judgement. I spent five years in prison for statutory with a fifteen year old girl. I found out that six months prior to my situation there was another guy who had sex with her. He got twenty five years. So, tell me; who are the victims!!!

  13. Mellisa

    I just realized that Idaho’s RAPE law (18-6101) actually changed!! BTW Idaho has never actually had a stat rape law……consensual sex concerning minors was listed as a section under rape.

    I always thought that it was INSANE that Idaho’s RAPE law (strictly rape, no statutory in front of it) was defined as “sex with a female under the age of 18.”

    With that said, a 17 or 18 year old boy could go to prison for life, for having consensual sex with a 17 year old female, even it it was consensual and/or a longtime girlfriend! Usually the prosecutor would “cut a deal” and the boys would get FELONY RAPE on their record, be placed on intense sex offender probation (which was virtually impossible to not get PV’s on), have to attend and pay tons of money to the state for mandatory sex offender treatment, where they would be placed in with full blown child molesters! SICK!!! Also, a no contact order was placed between the couples, even if they were boyfriend/girlfriend, and the state had taken it on their own hands to press the charges, not the girls parents ect…

    While I don’t condone teenagers having sex ect, people face it, it happens…Did you have sex when you were a teenager? I strongly believe that the young boys lives shouldn’t be ruined because of a crazy strict law. Also, where is the accountability on the girls part when the young couple are both so close in age?

    I am Glad this absurd law is finally now outdated and can’t ruin any more young boys lives. I bet the Twin falls prosecuting attorney was not happy with this change, as he loved prosecuting these cases. It was more convictions and money for the state. The old rape law was not protecting anyone, it as being abused by people in places of power.

    GOOD JOB REPRESENTATIVE WENDY JAQUET for getting this new law put into place!

    Now my question is, what about the boys that were previously charged under the old law, does their felony rape still stand, or is this law retroactive and can undo the past conviction?

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