Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Teen-Aged Boy Faces Harsh Penalty For Unfair Prosecution of "Sex Crime"

The charging of an 18-year old by the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office with felony child molestation for a sexual liaison he had with a 13-year old points up both the harshness and the disparity in the law with which “sex offenders” are treated. For Joseph Hilton, a high school senior, the consequences could not be more severe. He faces a minimum jail sentence of two years and a life time sentence of having to register as a sex offender. Just what did this 18-year old do that is deserving of such a harsh criminal penalty?

As reported in the Indianapolis Star, Joseph Hilton, along with two other teen-age girls, got into to a hot tub belonging to the victim’s family together. When the 13-year old’s friend left to go into the house, Hilton and the 13-year old engaged in consensual sex. The two stopped having sex when the girl’s friend returned to rejoin them in the hot tub. After the 13-year old related what occurred to a school counselor, police were called and Hilton was arrested on felony child molestation charges and released on a $25,000 bond.

That teen-agers are having sex with one another is no surprise. That one of the teen-agers can be charged with a felony and, if found guilty, sentenced to jail time and required to register as a sex offender, may come as a surprise to many. Many may fault Hilton for having sex with a 13-year old, but it is common knowledge that junior high school-aged girls often seek out high-school aged boyfriends, and relationships between teen-agers with that much age difference is not uncommon with or without parental approval.

The problem for Hilton is that the girl, who was just five years younger than him, was under the age of 16 and, therefore, was not legally capable of consenting to have sex with him. But worse for Hilton is the fact that the girl was under the age of 14. That makes it a Class B felony if he engaged in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with her, and it is a Class C felony if he touched or fondled the girl for the purpose of satisfying his sexual desires. There is no evidence that Hilton has any past criminal record prior to this single incident.

Contrast Hilton’s dilemma with that of Debra Lafave, the 25-year Florida teacher who had sexual intercourse on several occasions with a 14-year old male student, including one incident in a school classroom. Lefave just accepted a plea agreement that allows her to avoid jail time altogether, although she will have to register as a sex offender like Hilton if he too is convicted or enters a plea of guilt. The crimes she pled to were battery and lewd and lascivious behavior. If she had been convicted of her original charges, she would have faced up to 15 years for each count. Lafave, who boasted that her high school boyfriend was Backstreet Boy band member Nick Carter, blamed her husband’s sexual inadequacies for her sexual transgressions.

If Hilton had been a female rather than a male and his "victim" had been a male, you can bet the Hamilton County Prosecutor would have never filed charges. Unfortunately, sex crime laws are unevenly applied between male and female offenders, with male offenders being dealt with much more harshly by prosecutors. Moreover, consensual sex among teen-agers, despite age discrepancies, is rarely charged as a crime, but if it is, the person charged is typically a male.

It is completely within the discretion of the prosecutor whether to bring charges in the first instance. Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp exercised poor discretion in bringing felony charges against Hilton. She should seriously reconsider whether the life-time punishment Hilton faces is proportionate to the crime he is alleged to have committed; otherwise, she should ask the State to begin building more prisons because the number of teen-agers she will need to start prosecuting will soon fill up available prison beds.

7 comments:

kay said...

Thankfully, here in my neck of the woods you're not employed with the the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office!

Mike said...

It all begins with behavior we all find as appalling as it is rare: the violent kidnapping/rape/murder of minors. But then somehow this definition of "sex offender" expands to include consensual sex with minors, consensual sex between minors, collecting pictures of sex between minors, and lately chatting sexy on the internet with someone preceived to be a minor. A few decades ago, the behavior described would have been handled within the families, or- with many- shrugged off entirely.

At some point, you have to start asking if this about protecting minors, or is it about our finding some perverted pleasure in the stories of young peoples' sexual escapades with each other and with adults. As much as we pretend to be disgusted, we as a society keep demanding more news on the subject, demand an ever broading definition of the "sex offender." We become titilated by the whole scene, and the news stories leave just enough out- exactly what sex act took place- to let our imaginations run wild. We can replay the whole thing in our minds over and over: Was it oral sex? Was in vaginal sex? Was he feeling her? was she feeling him?

The prosecutor becomes the smut peddler, along with the local news, and the whole outraged community becomes the smut junkies-- we never get enough. Tell us one more perverted story. Please!

But we're the "good guys." We don't do the jail time or appear on the sexual offenders list.

kay said...

There is no such thing as "consensual sex with a minor." Sex with a minor is an illegal act, as illegal as the kidnapping/rape/murder of a minor!

If this reality doesn't fit into the "dating plans" of some then perhaps they'd be better advised to seek professional help

Mike said...

Funny, I had lots of sex as a minor, all of it consensual.

Your insistence that consensual sex with a minor is impossible because it is illegal makes about as much sense as saying 19th century women couldn't handle political thought, BECAUSE it was illegal for them to vote.

I encounter stupid, non-sense laws all the time. Marriage between races was illegal in South Carolina was illegal until just a few years ago.

Your idea that law defines truth is not only illogical, it is un-American. Citizens in a democracy examine and critique the acts of their law-makers, not worship them.

Anonymous said...

This also happened to my son he had just turned 18 he was a Junior in High School It was Easter weekend and a girl from his school invited him and some of his friends to her house to have a party well there was some girls there he did not know everyone was drinking and one of the girls was sitting on his lap and rubbing on him they ended up having sex the girl had lied to everyone about her age said she was 17 and her friend that was with her was 18 well 2 weeks later the police came saying they were investigating my son and was going to charge him with child molesting I couldent beleave it they did a deposition on this girl and she admitted to lieing about her age it was consensual we even had statements from other people that were there that she said she was 17 the age in indiana is 16 so it wouldent of been a problem if she hadent lied about her age I remember one of the cops telling me (if he was passed out from to much alcohol and she took his dick out and put it in her he would still be charged with child molesting I told him the law needs to be changed if that was the case) he was arrested 6 months later and was charged with child molesting he was now a Senior in High school they threatened him with 20 years because this happened twice on a friday night and sat night both times everyone was drinking well 20 years is a very long time after they did the deposition I really thought they would drop all charges because the the prosecutor even said the girl has some major problems but they continued to prosecute him he went to court May 16 2005 he ended up taking a plea bargain for 4 years suspended 4 years probation of special rules register for 10 years take A.A COUNSELING, SEX OFFENDER CLASSES A LIE DETECTOR , to witch all this costs alot of money probation is 30.00 a month for 4 years sex counseling 35.00 a week for 90 days and a lie detector for 500.00 plus court costs and fines well he is still in High school after his court date and was sentenced he was told he could not live at home with his 2 brothers because they were under 18 he would need to move to a half way house and he wouldent be able to finish high school I was so upset his court appointed lawyer did not tell us any of this the probation officer told us she would go ask the judge if he could stay at home and finish school he agreed but he could not be alone with his own brothers its amazing to me that he could live with his brothers for 18 years and one day he can not when they are both almost teenagers as well so you might be thinking he had it easy with only 4 years probation well do you think it is easy to find a job with a felony he lives on his own now because we moved out of Indiana but he had to stay there he lives without heat ,barely eats cause he cant find a job that pays much he did graduate high school by the way he had NEVER been in trouble before till this happened he wrestled and played football in school do you think he got what he deserved it has totally ruined his life he had only been 18 for 3 months it is so sad this is happenig to these kids are they really adults at 18 they are just starting thier lives do you remember when you were in high school? kids are so naive its happening all over the United States some one needs to do something to change the law for all these kids they are now on a list are they really child molesters I dont think so

jewles said...

This also happened to my son he had just turned 18 he was a Junior in High School It was Easter weekend and a girl from his school invited him and some of his friends to her house to have a party well there was some girls there he did not know everyone was drinking and one of the girls was sitting on his lap and rubbing on him they ended up having sex the girl had lied to everyone about her age said she was 17 and her friend that was with her was 18 well 2 weeks later the police came saying they were investigating my son and was going to charge him with child molesting I couldent beleave it they did a deposition on this girl and she admitted to lieing about her age it was consensual we even had statements from other people that were there that she said she was 17 the age in indiana is 16 so it wouldent of been a problem if she hadent lied about her age I remember one of the cops telling me (if he was passed out from to much alcohol and she took his dick out and put it in her he would still be charged with child molesting I told him the law needs to be changed if that was the case) he was arrested 6 months later and was charged with child molesting he was now a Senior in High school they threatened him with 20 years because this happened twice on a friday night and sat night both times everyone was drinking well 20 years is a very long time after they did the deposition I really thought they would drop all charges because the the prosecutor even said the girl has some major problems but they continued to prosecute him he went to court May 16 2005 he ended up taking a plea bargain for 4 years suspended 4 years probation of special rules register for 10 years take A.A COUNSELING, SEX OFFENDER CLASSES A LIE DETECTOR , to witch all this costs alot of money probation is 30.00 a month for 4 years sex counseling 35.00 a week for 90 days and a lie detector for 500.00 plus court costs and fines well he is still in High school after his court date and was sentenced he was told he could not live at home with his 2 brothers because they were under 18 he would need to move to a half way house in Ft wayne IN witch is 30 mins away and he wouldent be able to finish high school I was so upset his court appointed lawyer did not tell us any of this the probation officer told us she would go ask the judge if he could stay at home and finish school he agreed but he could not be alone with his own brothers its amazing to me that he could live with his brothers for 18 years and one day he can not when they are both almost teenagers as well so you might be thinking he had it easy with only 4 years probation well do you think it is easy to find a job with a felony he lives on his own now because we moved out of Indiana but he had to stay there he lives without heat ,barely eats cause he cant find a job that pays much he did graduate high school by the way he had NEVER been in trouble before till this happened he wrestled and played football in school do you think he got what he deserved it has totally ruined his life he had only been 18 for 3 months it is so sad this is happenig to these kids are they really adults at 18 they are just starting thier lives do you remember when you were in high school? kids are so naive its happening all over the United States some one needs to do something to change the law for all these kids they are now on a list are they really child molesters I dont think so

Mary said...

It does all begin with minors. (60)million Americans have experienced Child Sexual Abuse (CSA),
(50%), or 30 million will go on to sexually abuse! It's a staggering number, there are 30 million abusers in this country and we are all in hysteria concerning the 600,000 registered sex offenders who's recidivism rate is in the single digits. 95% of all new sex offenders NEVER committ a second offense.


There is an article on my website titled, "The Crux of the Problem...," Prevention through education.
We need to act, not react.
You can view the article here:
http://cfcoklahoma.org/