A teenage boy from Texas could see his name added to the state’s sex offenders list for life, despite having consensual sex with his legally age-appropriate girlfriend, the New York Post reports.
The unnamed 14-year-old, a reported seventh grade middle-school student, bedded his somewhat younger sixth grade girlfriend, 12, sometime this year, after the two mutually decided to take their young relationship to a new, mature level, according to the teen boy’s mom.
“He had consensual sex with his little girlfriend and he [told her he] loved her,” the boy’s mother relayed to the Houston Chronicle this week.
Incidentally, Texas is one of several American states that adhere to what is known as a “Romeo and Juliet law,” which allows young adults to copulate freely with one another, as long as one of the partners isn’t over 17-years-old, and is no more than three years older or younger than their consenting partner (for example, a 17-year-old may have sex with a 14-year-old, no matter the gender).
However, that particular legality is not attributed to anyone beneath the age of 14 — anyone 10 years or over in the state can be considered culpable of committing a crime — including the Texas boy’s 12-year-old girlfriend, which led to the older teen being arrested and charged earlier this week with aggravated sexual assault.
"They want to make him a sex offender, put him on the registry with pedophiles and child molesters" https://t.co/X7nCJ79Nlm
— New York Post (@nypost) May 18, 2017
If found guilty, the boy could be ordered to participate in treatment for adult sex offenders and have his name added to the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry for the rest of his natural life.
“Because he’s 14, they want to make him a sex offender [and] put him on the registry with pedophiles and child molesters,” the boy’s mom added.
“[Those are] really sick and dangerous people.”
On the contrary, attorney Joseph Gutheinz, the boy’s lawyer, explained to the Post that his client was the same age as his slightly younger girlfriend, he wouldn’t be considered a “sexual offender” by the law.
“It defeats the whole purpose of the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ defense where you have two people relatively close in age and maturity,” said Gutheinz.
“You would think the law would be more sympathetic as you go younger, because both parties are [emotionally] immature.”
Be that as it may, Harris County Public Defender’s Office attorney Jackie Gravois revealed that she sees many cases like the teen boy’s come across her desk regularly, even though they are more than occassionally dropped by the state just as quickly.
“I had that exact fact pattern that I fought for a year [and courts] end up dismissing it because, ultimately, everyone agreed it was a consensual act,” she offered.
“Usually, if the prosecutors can prove that it was consensual and it was not forced in any way, they typically don’t file these cases or they end up dismissing them. [However], that’s going to be up to the discretion of the prosecutor.”
In the boy’s defense, both his and the opposing legal team concur that the accused did not force the girl in way, shape or form to have sex with him, nor were there any acts of violence committed, physical or otherwise, to make the girl bend to his will.
Additionally and consequently, as the boy and girl are both middle school students and therefore, in the same age range as one another, state attorneys might be hard pressed to actually receive a guilty verdict at the boy’s sexual offense trial.
“[Judges] usually delay [sentencing] and send them to sex offender treatment [before making] a decision,” Gravois went on to add.
Nonetheless, the boy’s mother remarked that her family has been “going through hell” since his arrest.
“He was 14 [for] two months [and now], they want to ruin his life,” she told the Chronicle.
“What kind of life is he going to have if he’s [registered as] a sex offender?”
The next date in the boy’s sex offender trial was not publicly noted by the Chronicle or the Post.
[Featured Image by kierpix/iStock]