Our Sex Offender Laws are CRAZY

Hi Readers — This story was just sent to me and I am stunned and going out of my mind. A 34-year-old Nevada woman who was convicted of making a 13-year-old boy touch her breasts — I agree, gross and totally wrong — was sentenced to MANDATORY LIFE IN PRISON.

She will be eligible for parole in 10 years.  As her public defender said:  “She is getting a greater penalty for having a boy touch her breast than if she killed him.”

No one — Free-Range or not — is in favor of adults molesting minors. But the idea that “public lewdness”  can carry a mandatory life sentence just highlights  the hysteria of the times we are living in — times when we are so sex offender-obsessed we fail to consider whether we are really making children any safer with our over-the-top laws and our “zero tolerance” for common sense. As one commenter named “justthefacts” wrote beneath the original news story:

Humor me please…a man leaves a bar intoxicated, gets behind the wheel of his vehicle, chooses to drive off and ultimately gets in an accident and kills a 13 year old boy, unintentionally, but still is blatently guilty of vehicular manslaughter. He is charged with the following in Nevada: $2000-$5000 fine, 25 years – Life prison sentence with a possibility of parole after 10 years. This is the actual sentence for a crime of this caliber. With that being said, should this woman really, seriously, get the same exact sentence?

Wouldn’t community service and some rehab or therapy have made a lot more sense? Or maybe a week in jail? We’ve got to change these laws. If anyone is more versed than me in how we go about this, tell all.  — Lenore

Way to go, Nevada.

81 Responses

  1. So, why did the kid do it? Why didn’t he just refuse and go on his way?

  2. First we have to tone down the destructive political rhetoric.

    No matter what the intent is, anyone trying to re-inject sanity into this process will be tarred as being “soft on crime” and wanting to release “pedophiles” and “rapists” into the community.

    Even if we get someone in who is willing to sponsor a bill which is so totally and obviously career suicide for a politician, nobody will vote for it.

  3. And yet tattooing “Poor Impulse Control” to her forehead would be cruel and unusual.

  4. “So, why did the kid do it? Why didn’t he just refuse and go on his way?”

    She physically forced him to.

  5. Jury Nullification. It is probably the best way the “little people” can bring sanity to the system. Laws are driven by activists, often just a few people with money. Juries are sat (right term?) by regular Joes.

    I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to sit on a jury to take it. Every sane person seated helps. But before you go, become a Fully Informed Juror


  6. A week seems light for such a rude act. It shows a serious problem with the person’s mental health. Minimum five years in treatment, minimum. I agree that life in prison is hysterical.

  7. I had lost all hope that we would grow up and be more mature with our sex-offender laws, but here in Colorado our legislature is offering a glimmer of sanity.
    In Colorado, if you are arrested for public urination, you will be placed on a sex offender registry–even if you are trying to be discreet and desperate.

    A few legislators have introduced a bill to make it a misdemeanor without being registered as a sex offender provided there is no proof of intentional exhibitionism.

  8. I don’t know. I guess I’m still in favor of heavy duty punishment for this kind of thing. But this may be a bit too heavy. I’m curious to see what others have to say.

  9. Sounds more like attempted rape than something as minor as a consensual touching of breasts. Life seems like a lot, but if a adult man forced a 13 yr old girl to touch his penis then “rough housed” with him and “asked” her to have sex with him…would you have the same reaction?

  10. While I think that life in prison is a bit harsh for this particular incident, I also think we (as in the universal “we”) see this incident as less harming because it was a 13 year old BOY who was forced to do it. If it had been a 13 year old girl who had been forced to touch a man’s penis, would you have the same feelings of over-doing it? Most people wouldn’t.

  11. I agree that this woman sounds monstrous, and maybe we’d view this differently if the genders were switched. But I agree with Lenore that a sentence worse than a murderer would get is ridiculous. And I intend to use this story to tell my own young son to avoid drunken creeps of either gender.

  12. Yes, a sentance worse than murder is bad, but the alternate sentences suggested by Lenore (community service or a week in jail) really points to the difference in opinions about what happens to boys when they are molested or rape, especially in the teenage years. This makes it much more difficult for young men to recover, as well as report. She should get the same sentence as any attempted rapist. It shouldn’t be a light sentence because she was drunk. And suggesting that warning your son to avoid drunks smacks to me of blaming the victim. We don’t know if this kid could have avoided or what his relationship to her was. We do know that it was reported somehow and that he felt violated.

  13. “Taylor, who lived in Jackpot, Nev., at the time of the crime, kissed a friend’s child, forced him to touch her breast and asked him to have sex with her in February 2008.
    Taylor claimed she was intoxicated and doesn’t remember what happened that night. She told jurors she roughhoused with the boy, but didn’t force him to touch her inappropriately.”

    I’m sorry but I have to disagree. This sounds like she tried to pressure the boy into having sex with her. If it was a man, people would be upset that he had the possibility of parole and not a straight down life sentence.

    Have you seen the South Park were Ike (Stan’s 5-year-old brother) is having sex with his teacher? Stan keeps complaining about it to the police but the police just say, “nice.” Instead of arresting the lady that is going down on a 5-year-old. I think we have a case of “Nice” syndrome here.

    And to answer, “So, why did the kid do it?” Because he is a 13 year old boy. 13 year old boys would kill to touch some boob.

    – A Comment From Nevada

  14. There is no reason that sexual molestation should carry heavier penalties than manslaughter.

    Yes, she should be punished – no question about it… but the punishment should fit the crime, regardless of the sex of the criminal or the victim.

  15. Ridiculous. I DON’T condone that kind of behaviour. But the punishment DOES NOT fit the crime. If that were my son, I’d be very upset and would want something to be done. But a mandatory life sentence? No. IMO, a fair punishment would be up to 30 days jail time, or a 60-90 days in rehab – wherein she would not be released until the doctor deems her fit to be put back into society, and at least a 2 year year probationary period where she is not allowed to be alone with a child.

  16. Mandatory life in prison is a gross overreaction. You could get less for actually killing someone. Unfortunately, we don’t know the whole story, but the sentence should depend on how the boy experienced it. Did he initiate the contact? Lower sentence, sometimes it’s hard to say no even if it is the right thing to do. If he’s scarred and says so himself without parental coaching, then the sentence should be higher. But no, not life in prison…

  17. Ah, the criminal “justice” system. Funny how we punish people instead of working to better them. I wish the series Oz was still running…

  18. I’m also of the opinion that community service and a week in jail is too light. But I think it’s closer to the appropriate sentence than mandatory life. Because, from the article linked at least, this wasn’t even close to attempted rape. It was forced touching of breasts and solicitation. It indicates severe character flaws in the perpetrator which *may* lead to more severe crimes, but there are far worse things that someone can do to another human being than actually happened here. And I think that’s true if the genders are switched and you up the ante to penis touching (which I’ll also point out, for those making the comparison, is *not* the male equivalent of breasts).

  19. Sad but true – I would think that in many a drinking household that this behavior is committed more than we would ever want to know. I have a 12 year old son who is taller than I am, and I have an 13 year old niece who dresses like a 24 year old hooker at times. The niece is allowed to drink Hard Mikes – which I disagree with – and hard apple cider.

    I do not think that a life sentence should be given to the offender. But I do think rehab, counseling and community service – should be given to both the “victim” and the offender.

    I agree that just about any healthy 13 year old boy would do anything to be around “moms drunk friend” to touch some boob.

    The whole family needs help.

    To answer your question though – I have no idea how to change a society that indulges in so much pain/depression/alcohol on weekends to make it through to the next day.

  20. I agree with commenter Liz. As much as I disagree with the sentence for the crime, how would we feel were it a man and not a woman? Maybe that’s why she’s getting life in prison…maybe the prosecutors don’t want to people to think it’s gender discrimination or something. I do think the sentence is a little over the top though. Look at the guy who killed Chelsea King–he was in prison for five years for molesting a 13 year old girl, not a life sentence (although her folks are now trying to put a law in place to prevent sex offenders from ever getting out of jail). I definitely think she needs some rehab or a probationary period of no drinking. It’s one thing to have a glass of wine or two, but to get drunk enough to “not remember anything”? You have a problem in that case, especially if you’re getting that drunk around kids.

  21. I have to disagree with those who say that “trying to get him to have sex” would have gotten such a severe punishment if the sexes were reversed. Community service/rehab/a week in jail is definitely too light, but first offense forcible rape of a minor doesn’t get you life in any state I’m familiar with (though there are a lot I’m not familiar with) let alone inappropriate touching plus “trying to get someone to do something” without force or threat.

    So yeah, severe punishment, but life is totally absurd, at least in the context of other things that DON’T get you life.

  22. First — eliminate the Sex Offender Registry. It quickly became the official hysteric’s way to tattoo a scarlet letter on people we don’t like.

    Second, limit the power a judge has to impose draconian punishments on people. In the case of the woman, I believe SOME jail and therapy times is appropriate, but giving a wide open choice to the judge produced a miscarriage of justice.

    Third, all such cases should be before a jury. That’s the defendant’s right and he/she should use it.

    I am not excusing this woman’s behavior, nor that of anyone who molests a child. However, the worth of a people is shown by how we treat the worst of us, and this case does not bode well.

  23. As a member of the criminal justice system, this is WAY out of line from what I would see for those same actions in my area – a very conservative jurisdiction. For whomever suggested it, this is NOT even on the same continent as attempted rape. Asking someone to have sex with you is NEVER attempted rape, whether they are 13, 30 or 300. Even if you kiss them and put their hand on your breast. If it was, over half the population who has ever dated would be serving life sentences. Equating this behavior with attempted rape is a GROSS exaggeration and exactly what sets off these crazy laws and paranoia.

    The absolute worst that I would see someone getting in my area for forcing a 13 year old touch her breast is maybe 1 year in prison (good bit of probation and still register as a sex offender). And that would be for a boy or a girl.

    But I will say that 10 years to be eligible for parole is great on a life sentence. She would have to do 30 in my state.

  24. @ Andy – Actually the opposite was the problem. The The legistature made it a mandatory life sentence under her charges. The judge had no discretion to give her anything other than life sentence. From his quotes in the article, it sounds like he was not happy with the situation.

    Mandatory minimums for all crimes should be abolished. Each case needs to be treated on it’s own merits. I assume that the legislature drafted this law with more serious actions in mind. But statutes are drafted such that they cover a large gambit of activity and if a zealous prosecutor wants to hammer someone, like they appeared to in this case, they can likely do it.

    And this case was tried by a jury. Jury doesn’t set the sentence. A jury cannot be informed of the potential sentence (well, the attorneys and judge cannot inform them, if they want to look it up themselves, they can) prior to making a verdict. A jury is exused prior to sentencing so would not even know the result until they read about it in the paper.

  25. The biggest problem I see with giving this type of crime the exact same or greater punishment than murder is that it’s an incentive for sexual predators to go ahead an MURDER there victim — that way the victim can’t talk and the punishment won’t be any worse anyway!!

  26. Hey Lenore,

    I thought of Free Range Kids reading this blog today: http://www.mostgladly.net/cj/2010/04/discuss.html
    Twice now this mom has had paranoid neighbors freak out because she has let her children walk by themselves for short distances under controlled circumstances. The first time this happened (two years ago) someone even called CPS!!

    Which explains why it is that I worry more about worrywart neighbors and their judgments than I do about actual risks to my children. 😛

  27. Fear not my disgruntled bloggers the laws are working and another “dangerous” predator is off the streets. Cases like this are actually very common only it usually involves male “purps” rather than female.

    I recall a study from somewhere that reported the average time served for second degree Murder was 7 years? So grabbing a breast trumps murder in our country now?

    I personally know of a case where a 16 yo boy met another teen at a 16 and above teen club who lied about her age. They ended up having consensual sex and he was later arrested and labeled a sexual predator for life.


    Yes S.H. but if it saves “one child” it’s all worth it right? I have been unable to find even one story that suggests these laws have prevented a crime.

    Almost 750,000 people are on the registry now and I cannot find one single story that claims this registry has helped anyone.

    I find lot’s of stories of the horror these laws have created and the lives they have destroyed.

    American’s love their denial I am sure most families know or knew someone that had been involved in some type of sexual misconduct at some point in their lives but it’s just mentally easier for our culture to create a list of “bogymen” and grab our torches and pitchforks and hate rather than take a hard look at this problem and possibly come up with policies that could reduce the number of victims.

    Most of the ppl that dare to speak out against these useless laws are family members of SO’s who got a very rude awakening to what is going on in our country.

    Most Americans believe that if you are put on that list a Judge or panel of experts had deemed you a danger. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Like the massive failure that “mandatory minimum” drug sentencing proved to be in the 90′s sex offender laws are ALL INCLUSIVE you get convicted of anything even remotely sexual and the Judge’s hands are tied on the list you go no matter how ridiculous the circumstances may be.

    Readers? The war on drugs? Can we even keep drugs out of prisons? yet we have spent TRILLIONS on that lost cause? If we could not stop that how could you possibly stop an activity that not only feels good but is free?

    I am not talking about the abuse of a child but teen on teen sex? Did I awake on a different world than the one I grew up in? In the late 70′s early 80′s we were all doing it and despite the lack of a registry I got through it unscathed.

    Using today’s standards I was a victim of sexual abuse when at 14 a 17 yo female “predator” took advantage of me? My life has been nightmare ever since!!! Can we please all stop for a reality check? Do you really want to trust “the government” to protect your children?

    rosecutors love to get felony sex convictions they make for great “soundbites” come re election time where they can show how their protecting children from dangerous predators. The news media with an orgasmic fever loves any story RSO related as it equates to “ratings gold” and who cares if a few hundred thousand people’s lives are destroyed that are no danger to anyone? it’s sweeps week? Can’t scare them, into tuning in with the truth.

    It doesn’t matter if it was a 16 yo who had consensual sex with a 13,14,0r 15 yo girlfriend he is placed on this list right next to the 60 yo that raped a 5 yo and treated exactly the same by society and the Justice system.

    Let me do a quick unscientific study here. There are 700,000 RSO’s nationwide? If they were all these vicious murdering pedophiles with a 90% re offense rate would we not be knee deep in rape and murder stories daily?

    In a country with 350 million people we hear stories like this maybe 2-3 times per year? I think someone is trying to “duke the stats” for their own personal agenda.

    I think the Jaycee Lee Dugard case illustrates my point better than anything I could type. Here was a man on the absolute strictest RSO regulations GPS monitor and visits from his PO a few times a month and he keeps a slave in his yard for 18 years?

    I think we can all agree that this experiment known as the “sex offender registry” is a dismal failure? Is it time to think about eradicating the idea of “pre crime” and “Pre Punitive”? Do we really have to have 2-3 million people on this list before we admit the truth?

    The American People had better wake up to the fact that they or someone they know can easily end up on this registry as the Politicians and their “tough on crime” re election tactics cast a wider and wider net.

    Nobody condones the sexual abuse of a child but at some point were going have to accept that there are always going to be crimes like this and forcing those that might have made a one time mistake to suffer a penalty for what someone else has done is not justice.

    Treating the “sexter” or public urinator even a flasher the same as someone that forcibly rapes a child is not Justice is not good policy and does only harm and zero good.

    Even though you might hate and despise that group if their rights can be stripped away just how safe are yours? Drug dealer registries? Dangerous Dog registries? Meth Lab registries? when will this “political theater” end?

  28. @Carol the Long Winded — Re: Blaming the Victim

    I think this is part of the reason why it’s so difficult to get any sane ruling or laws made regarding offenses of a sexual nature in general.

    No, blaming the victim isn’t the way to go, but at the same time, there are certain precautions we can take to avoid unnecessarily putting ourselves in harm’s way, no matter what the “harm” is. Teaching my kids to be wary of people who are excessively drunk is, to me, akin to teaching them to lock the car or house door when leaving it. It’s about identifying risk factors and taking reasonable precautions.

    The problem with sex offenses is that people automatically cry “victim blaming” when anyone brings up the idea of taking reasonable precautions. We shouldn’t say something like “see? If you hadn’t been wearing X, you wouldn’t have gotten raped,” or any other such I-told-you-sos (just as you wouldn’t tell a victim of a break-in gone wrong “see? If you’d locked your doors/gotten a security system, your husband/wife/child/dog would still be alive”), but you can take that information and use it to keep yourself safer.

    Because we’re so afraid of being accused of victim blaming, we’re ultimately harming past and future rape victims, between teaching them to essentially be a victim and then not equipping them with the means to not be a victim. In many cases (at least among women, I haven’t talked to any men who’ve been raped), we end up with women who are essentially fearful of every man and many situations they encounter.

    People are still going to get raped, just like people will still get murders and houses will still get broken into. However, most criminals in general are essentially cowards — they go after the easy targets-the unlocked car or house with no lights, the woman on the street who looks scared, the computer without a firewall or anti-virus program. By taking reasonable precautions, you can weed out a very large majority of potential threats. It’s as simple as showing confidence or having a porch light on.

    When precautions are taken, what you generally have left are the ones that are determined to commit whatever crime. A locked door won’t deter someone determined to get into your house or car, they’ll just pick the lock or break a window. The determined rapist won’t care if you look confident or even if you fight back (and, for that matter, s/he may not even go the “snatch and run” route, but instead work to gain your trust). Firewalls and anti-virus software is child’s play to a real hacker trying to get in.

    @others — Re: Gender Switching

    In this particular case, I think Lenore’s suggestions are a little skewed to the light side, though I largely blame the lack of information about what happened (as others have pointed out), as opposed to the perpetrator being female. However, both her suggestion and the woman’s sentence are on extreme ends of the spectrum.

    She’s getting a sentence equivalent to involuntary manslaughter (via drunk driving) and she didn’t get anywhere near as physical as she could have/might have gone. What kind of sentence would she have gotten if she had actually had sex with the boy?

    Also, regarding the breast-touching versus penis-touching analogy, I’m sorry, but there is a difference, and the fact that people make such a comparison is a testament to the larger social issues regarding sex and sexuality in the United States. She still acted inappropriately and (assuming the article and claims are accurate) in a sexual manner and for that should certainly be punished, but breasts are not penises. Breasts’ primary purpose is probably the farthest thing from sexual as you can get. Please stop comparing baby food dispensers to tools for intercourse. Even when considering the secondary purpose — indicator of sexual maturity and attracting a mate — they’re still a far cry from the actual organs required for reproduction (and in this day and age, not entirely necessary for finding a mate).

    Making the breasts == penis comparison is pretty much the reason her charges included something along the lines of attempted rape, probably thanks to an overzealous prosecutor looking to crack down on female child molesters.

  29. As someone who was molested by a family friend, I cannot disagree with you more. This woman is a sexual predator. The fact that you think attempting to rape a minor is worth a week in jail is vile.

  30. I am curious, what is the punishment for a convicted rapist? I seem to recall hearing several rapists convicted with MUCH shorter sentences than this woman…

    In light of that, it seems to me that penalties for crimes need to be re-evaluated all over the place.

  31. The punishment should fit the crime. If he was “forced” to touch her breasts, then she should be forced to touch his penis. After he turns 18, of course.

    Like any 13 year old boy has to be forced to touch breasts… that’s the age they first realize that girls/women are different, and those differences are VERY interesting.

  32. I usually tend to think along the same lines that this is crazy, but after what has happened in our community, San Diego, over the past few months, I think anyone that does anything sexual to a minor, using force, should be put away for life. These people are dangerous and do not get rehabilitated. If the monster that raped and killed two teenage girls in our city had been put away for life when he was first caught molesting a child, those two girls would still be alive.
    I know that I can not protect children from all of the bad guys out there, but if someone found guilty or pleads guilty, they should be put behind bars forever. We can protect are kids from those we know hurt children.

  33. This is a sadly crazy country we now live in. The thinking is correct in that our government wants to protect our children but the practice is flawed. How do I know? I’m a RSO and have been on one of the state registries for almost a decade now. In no way am I trying to justify myself and what I did but I do know firsthand that the registries do no good for anyone or their families. Just because I was a stupid person doesnt mean I still dont have a family to support. Not to mention the harrassment my family has had to suffer because of myself. Yes. I am the one guilty of my crimes but why does my family have to keep paying for it? I’m not at all against having registries. They are a great tool for law enforcement. But giving the public this much information on people is only asking for problems. Okay so because of a registry you find out you have a sex offender or several living around you. It still doesnt mean you can do anything about it. Some would say that since they have this information, they can better protect their children. Shouldnt you be doing this regardless of who you know is living in your neighborhood. Is the person on the registry really the one you should be concerned about. Hello. These people on the registry dont have the secrets anymore. I think I would be more concerned about the people who you know nothing about or the people who have not been caught yet. I’m sorry. I know this was off topic but I felt like I needed to share. But one thing I have noticed over time is how our country is very inconsistent in how we sentence people for sex related charges. I’ve seen people with completely identical charges and circumstances and they were sentenced completely differently. Differently because of the county they lived in and because of different judges. I’ve seen differences in sentences also in what kind of mood the judge might have been in on a particular day. Okay I guess I’m done now. So now I get to hear about how terrible a monster I am and that I dont deserve to live. Thats okay. After a while you get de-sensitized to these people. Thank You

  34. Am I cynical in thinking all this mandatory sentencing is linked to the growing commercial prison industry? We have got some international private prison services here too, sometimes with disastrous results.
    (Deaths in custody; recently one poor aboriginal man was transported from a rural town, in the un-air-conditioned back of a prison van, the driver’s part had aircon though. The van was old, the old man had no windows, the distress button didnt work and they drive hundreds of miles through the 100 degree heat. He was dead when they got to the city. He basically was cooked.)

    I read somewhere that about 10% of USA population is in prison. Lucrative dollars for the private prison industry, particularly when the prisoners are used as virtual slave-labour for industry. We have people here trying to bring in the same scourge.

    IMHO kids are more at risk of harm by getting on the wrong side of a commericalized prison industry than stranger-danger.

  35. The comparison with vehicular manslaughter was way off. There was no intent in that case, but in the woman’s case she had an intent. In the manslaughter case the victim was random, yet in the woman’s case she chose the 13 year old. I don’t agree with the sentence, but I look at this not from the victim’s POV, in which he wasn’t really affected, but from the woman’s POV, in which what was going through her mind and what else might she do in the future? Yes, life in prison is far too strong, but a strong sentence is needed here.

  36. He’s 13. He has not rights to consent. She is a child molester. Rehab won’t do it. I don’t necessarily see a huge difference between someone doing the same thing to a 10 yr old as to a 13. If they are under the age of consent, they are under the age of consent. Do we really believe that the urge to fiddle with a 13 yr old could be controlled with counseling and picking up some garbage? I don’t. THis is the first time she’s been caught – doesn’t mean its the first time she’s done it.

  37. I’m with Lenore on this one.

    And the story is a strange one with odd elements like this:

    “The jury was not allowed to know the potential sentence in this case and the Legislature doesn’t know the facts,” she said, alluding to the minimum sentence set by the Legislature in Nevada Revised Statute.”

    Doesn’t sound like justice to me. Did you actually read the story before you commented??

  38. The last sentence of my comment above wasn’t clear. I was addressing others who left comments on this story. Did “they” actually read The Story Lenore linked to?

  39. Ten years from now, American culture will be indistinguishable from those in countries like Iran. All women will be required to wear burkas those who show a boob will be stoned to death. Or something very similar to that. Religious fundamentalism and other similar fear and stupidity is to blame.

    American culture is changing, and not for the better. Forcing a child to do something sexual that they’re not mentally ready for is wrong and always will be in any culture. The sentence should be counseling and perhaps some jail time, but it certainly is not worthy of a sentence equivalent to murder.

  40. […] Freerangekids.wordpress.com: Our Sex Offender Laws are CRAZY. […]

  41. I don’t know if you have heard of us or not, but we operate blogs at constitutionalfights.org and have been fighting these increasingly draconian sex offender laws since January 2008 when Ohio became the first state to enact the Adam Walsh Act, which imposes constitutionally violating restrictions and requirements on those who have served their punishments for sex convictions – many which date back decades. Retroactively requiring these people to be subject to lifetime registration, in many cases, is resulting in a quiet storm of opposition to these laws. The other 49 states have refused to substantially comply with the Act, to this point, but with federal funding being blackmailed, some states have enacted portions of the AWA.

    Pending Ohio Supreme Court cases in Ohio will greatly influence what we will see in the near future with regard to sex offender laws in other states. These Ohio Supreme Court cases should be ruled on during May. But you asked what we can do to stop these laws.

    One thing I can recommend is posting a link to our blogs where we post action items, court cases, and direction on what to do if you are directly affected (or know someone who is) by these laws.

    While you and I may have slightly different focuses, we do share the same stance on how these sex offender laws have become crazy. I often have found your postings to be compelling and have posted links to at least three of your postings.

  42. Would I think differently if it was a 13-year old GIRL that was forced to touch a men’s penis instead of a 13-year old BOY being forced to touch a woman’s breasts?

    Well, I’m probably going to be hammered for this, but I remember from my own youth (long, long time ago 😉 when it would be the dream of nearly every 13 yo boy to touch an adults woman’s breasts (I remember boys from my school smuggling Playboys in, and going all ‘Whoa! Look at the tits on THAT one!’ and ‘Oooohh… BOOBIES!’ over the centerfolds), whilst the dreams of the 13 yo GIRLS did NOT center around men’s penises.

  43. You could not have made me touch a woman’s breast. There would have been no force at all. I would have jumped at the chance.

  44. Please consider the victim in more realistic terms. Because of his experience, this unfortunate lad could be doomed to a lifelong predilection for older women.

  45. I’m with Carol the long winded ~ “This is the first time she’s been caught – doesn’t mean it’s the first time she’s done it.”

    Under the age of consent, means UNDER the age of consent.

    Why all the outrage at the length of her sentence? It’s very well that it has been compared with her killing the victim, because in reality that is the result of sexual misconduct/abuse of children: their innocence has gone; they can never get it back.

    It is not unreasonable to suggest our first sexual encounter influences the way we view sex and relationships in the future. This is not how this boy should have started his sexual life (with a woman probably 3 times his age).

    The sentence sends a clear message – DO NOT ENGAGE SEXUALLY with a minor.

  46. Wait…. it doesn’t say what the occupation was of the 34 y.o. woman. Isn’t prostitution legal in NV? And did she force him, or did she LET him? The article assumes force, but frankly, since kids under age 18 are considered unable to consent to sex, she probably FORCED him, regardless of what really happened.

    However, I think this woman showed a serious lack of judgment, and should absolutely be punished for it. Life in jail, however, seems excessive. She probably wouldn’t have gotten as harsh of a sentence if she’d beaten him up or even murdered him.

  47. “He’s 13. He has not rights to consent. ”

    And therein lies a BIG part of the problem. For some reason we believe that society has a right to tell people what they can or cannot AGREE TO involving their own body. And then we punish, not the people who consent when they are not allowed to, but the people who accepted that consent at face value.

    Western society refuses to believe that teenagers are – and always have been – sexual beings who actually WANT sex. Adults don’t want teenagers to have sex so they insist that a 13 year old who engages in sex MUST have been forced. And that is simply not true.

    The fact is that for all except the very brief recent part of human history, people were married at 13. My grandmother got married at 16 and that was the norm for the day (1930’s so not a very long time ago). Yes, we live longer now but that has not changed when we sexually mature. Actually, we are maturing sexually earlier now, not later. It also has always been quite common for a female to marry an older male. Evolutionary and biologically this makes sense – the older male can better provide for the female and children.

    I am not advocating sexual activity amongst teenagers and will certainly endeavor to get my child too hold off until she is older. I just believe that it’s a complete falsehood to believe that teenagers don’t WANT to have sex and that the only ones who do have sex are being abused.

  48. One more example of not just stupidity in sex crime laws, but the unintended consequences of mandatory minimums that remove discretion from judges. If we want to see a different result, let’s hope it goes up on appeal pending a change in the law.

    @ the commenters who believe that we’d feel differently if the genders were reversed: Speaking only for myself, that’s nonsense. Once again, let’s stipulate that no one advocates forced sexual activity by anyone, and once again, let’s look at what really happened here: Coerced, non-penetrative sexual touching.

    Sentences for sexually violent crimes typically punish penetrative crimes more severely than fondling crimes; typically a wide age gap is an aggravating circumstance that can tack on more time (other typical aggravators are use of a weapon, prior offenses, or abuse of trust — like the teacher or the troop leader or the relative).

    It’s so tempting to put all sexual activity crimes involving minors into one bag and not look at them carefully — it’s so much easier, especially for lay people (i.e., not lawyers, judges, legislators, or medical people), to just say “It’s ALL ICKY! It’s ALL AWFUL! WE DON’T WANT TO LOOK! LOCK THEM ALL UP AND THROW THE KEY AWAY!” But this serves no one well.

    Much better to try to take the role of an intelligent legislator and try to make the punishment fit the crime, which means giving judges some leeway and recognizing that some crimes are worse than others. We might disagree about what’s worse, but we have to start by recognizing that there ARE differences in degree and in kind.

  49. Life in prison is a chilling overreaction to this situation, and would be so even if it were a 34 yo man with a 13 yo girl. The Today show this morning featured a female Kindergarten teacher also facing life imprisonment over allegations of fondling from a few years ago, another first-time alleged offense. One of the accusers is a child actress who has played, interestingly enough, a molestation victim. The accused teacher has already lost everything, including custody of her young daughter, and she hasn’t yet been convicted of anything. Hysteria over sexual molestation is the new witch-hunting. The more things change…

  50. Donna gets to the true root of this issue.

    Only very recently in human history did we decide that biological sexual maturin is a horrible thing that “children” need to be protected from.

    This hysterical nonsense is the true crime; it damages the psyche more than the touch of a breast. A breast is a body part. So is penis. So is an elbow. Your life is not over and ruined if someone touches your elbow or nose when you are five, or fifteen, or fifty. It is illogical and harmful to say, “Someone touched your breast when you were 13 so you need help now and that person has to be punished FOR LIFE!”

    IMO, the gender of those involved means nothing. What if a girl touched a woman’s breast. Nothing. Happens every day.

    We need to stop this insanity.

  51. The problem with doing away with the age of consent is that some children are NOT psychologically able to consent at those ages. Children mature at different rates.

    Better to make 13 year olds endure the horrible deprivation of not having sexual activity until they’re actually old enough to live with the consequences, than to set up a situation where some defense lawyer is trying to prove that a 13 year old “really wanted it,” don’t you think?

  52. But I agree with the “your life is not over if…” argument, also. There’s no doubt that inappropriate sexual activity is damaging to anyone at any age. We’ve gotten absolutely hysterical over this “one instance of bad touching and the kid’s life is ruined forever and the perp’s lucky not to be executed by slow roasting” thing, though. Bad things, including incidents of molestation, happen to people. Some are worse than others, and worse ones should be treated as worse ones. Less-worse ones need not be.

  53. I think a sexual relationship with an adult can be harmful and have lasting psychological consequences for a child, even if it is non-penetrative and the child in question is sexually mature or even sexually experienced. It is not about the sex in and of itself as much as it is about power imbalance, the failure of parents to protect the child, etc.

    By the same token, we all know examples of sexual relationships between teenagers and adults that were not harmful (Sadly, in some cases, they were harmless until the law got involved, or until a well-intentioned counselor tried to convince the “victim” that what happened to him/her was horrible and is the source of all his/her current problems.)

    But the law cannot make distinctions based on a victim’s perception of the events. Such criteria are too subjective. So it is left with concrete things like the parties’ respective ages. The fact that laws and the amount of leeway a judge has in sentencing can be vastly different in different jurisdictions further confuses the issue.

    Mary Kay Letourneau had a two-year affair with her 12-year-old student and had two children by him. She only served 7 years (she would have gotten away with counseling and community service if she had not violated the original court agreement.) She is now married to her victim and is talking about going back to teaching (at a private school) which apparently she is allowed to do in certain jurisdictions in spite of being registered as a sex offender.

    We don’t know all the details of this case. Has this woman propositioned the boy on more than one occasion and has the boy expressed some distress over what was happening? Has more than just touching been going on – could it be the case focused on one episode of touching because it was the only thing they could prove, the only thing someone else witnessed. Who brought the case to the prosecution?

    In most families I know, an occurrence like this if witnessed by the parents would be either laughed away or provoke a sharp reprimand for the friend. In some families, it may be grounds for dissolution of the friendship. But for the police to get involved, something else must have been going on.

  54. “Better to make 13 year olds endure the horrible deprivation of not having sexual activity until they’re actually old enough to live with the consequences, than to set up a situation where some defense lawyer is trying to prove that a 13 year old “really wanted it,” don’t you think?”

    ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are not talking about 13 year olds being deprived of sex. They are having all the sex they want with absolutely no consequences to them (other than the ones that anyone faces). They aren’t prosecuted and thrown in prison for having sex. I don’t think we need to throw OTHER PEOPLE in prison because a 13 year old decided to do something that she wanted to do but society doesn’t believe that she is psychologically ready for.

    We currently have a case – 31 of them actually – involving a 14 year old girl who invited 31 men and boys to sneak in her window to have sex with her. 31 people did not overpower this girl’s will in her own home. 31 people do not need to go to prison because this kid has some serious psychological problems.

    Simply, if the State can’t prove lack of consent, no crime in my opinion. End of story. Age of the victim should be considered in determining actual consent. But there should absolutely not be an age under which someone cannot consent because that is a complete fallacy.

  55. I think you’re right. She got a longer sentence than if she had accidentally killed the boy while rough-housing with him while drunk.

    Actually, keeping with a theme here, I think she would have gotten a lighter sentence if she had cut off the boy’s winky while drunk. And you can’t tell me that’s less traumatizing than him touching her clothed boob.

  56. @River Greenway, it isn’t a problem if the jury didn’t know the potential sentence. The jury only decides guilt or innocence. The potential sentence has no bearing on that. It is the judge that does sentencing.

  57. “It is not unreasonable to suggest our first sexual encounter influences the way we view sex and relationships in the future. This is not how this boy should have started his sexual life (with a woman probably 3 times his age).”

    That’s certainly true, but I think the fact that he is somehow damaged forever because of this is a wee bit hysterical. Maybe he will be, maybe he won’t be. Maybe the fact that his mother’s friend is now going to prison for life will have an effect on his psyche, too, and his future relationships with women.

    I’m not condoning what she did, but I think life in prison is an overreaction. She didn’t force him to have sex. She didn’t even expose part of her body to him. He touched her breast. I have touched the breasts of strangers at crowded clubs when I was pushed into them, and I came away from it just fine.

    I’d also point out, not that it excuses her behavior, but the woman was drunk to the point of blacking out. This is probably not how she acts on a day-to-day basis. She needs addiction treatment, not life behind bars. What about her own family?

  58. If the kid is traumatized, it will be if he feels that because of him a woman was punished way out of proportion to her crime.

    I wonder how much of kids’ trauma over mild cases of molestation is foisted on them by their parents. I’m not talking about rape or long term abuse here. But really, if the kid is told “I know it was icky, but it wasn’t your fault, and it doesn’t have to be a big deal” that seems to be more productive than “OHMYGOD! You need 10 years of therapy! The bad guy will be locked away forever, so don’t you worry. And I’ll never ever leave your side again!! Are you ok???? ARE YOU OK?” I think seeing your folks freak out over it would send the message that you should freak out too.

  59. I’m not talking strictly about being “psychologically ready.” Anyone not old enough to hold a job and support a child is not ready for sex, period, regardless of what some people in “society” may or may not think about their psychological state.

  60. Therapy? Is she suffering from some cellular derangement? No, she suffers from a moral, not a medical, problem. Psychiatry deprives people of the moral agency and personal responsibility that this woman sorely needs. We have learned nothing from the medicalization of everything from homosexuality to childhood misbehavior, and are therefore less free range at every age.

  61. The most unusual thing about this case is that this time it is a female being accused. If she was a man, those kind of sentences would be considered “normal.” For some reason, we don’t treat women the same as men when it comes to sexual abuse (think Debra Lafave). That being said, this is more than a bit excessive.

  62. “But really, if the kid is told “I know it was icky, but it wasn’t your fault, and it doesn’t have to be a big deal” that seems to be more productive than “OHMYGOD! You need 10 years of therapy! The bad guy will be locked away forever, so don’t you worry. And I’ll never ever leave your side again!! Are you ok???? ARE YOU OK?” I think seeing your folks freak out over it would send the message that you should freak out too.”

    Yes. Serial abuse from a close, trusted person over time has got to be incredibly damaging. But screaming “lost innocence forever!” and “end of the world!” for these one-off, though still reprehensible incidents seems an over-reaction, and does seem to set the child up to be more traumatized by the reaction, than by the actual event. “I’m sorry that happened to you, that was creepy and awful, it’s upset me, too, and if you ever need to talk to someone more about it we can do that” seems a more appropriate response than assuming the kid will need to relive the thing endlessly in extended counseling lest his sexuality be forever warped.

  63. hope she had some nice knobs anyway

  64. In answer to the “What if the genders were reversed” question: I’ve never heard of a man being sentenced to life in prison for a single instance of molesting a girl. In fact, in the current “pedophile priest” scandal, I think we’ve all heard of many instances of men getting minimal or no punishment for far worse offenses on both boys and girls.

    Speaking for myself, if this story were about a 34-year-old man who had forced a 13-year-old girl to touch his penis, I admit I’d find the story even more disgusting, but I’d still think a mandatory life sentence was excessive.

  65. “Breasts’ primary purpose is probably the farthest thing from sexual as you can get. Please stop comparing baby food dispensers to tools for intercourse. Even when considering the secondary purpose — indicator of sexual maturity and attracting a mate — they’re still a far cry from the actual organs required for reproduction (and in this day and age, not entirely necessary for finding a mate).”

    And the penis’ primary purpose is for urinating.

    Breasts are not food dispensers. Yes, they are used for feeding babies. But breasts are also sexual. They give women sexual pleasure. Men are sexually attracted to them. If you ask a teenager to fondle them, it is for sexual pleasure, not to share milk.

    I don’t understand why people try to argue that breasts are not sexual. I hate it, in fact. I feel it is a way to de-sexualize women. We are sexual human beings and the fact that we can feed our children with our breasts does not stop them from also being a sexual part of women’s bodies. Similarly, just because men urinate with their penises doesn’t meant that a penis isn’t a sexual part of their bodies.

    This woman committed a sexual act with a boy.(and I am assuming that she literally forced him, based on the wording of the article. I would assume it would be described as “coerced” if force wasn’t involved. I could be wrong.) She should be punished accordingly. However, the sentence that she was given was ridiculously out of proportion.

  66. Yes, this is just pure insanity. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Like Lenore said, this lady could have killed someone and got less of a sentence. This country is going to the dogs.

    I have this posted on our blog as well, a long with the hearing video, where this woman’s lawyer was in tears over the sentence.


  67. LET HER ROTE IN JAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  68. rot

  69. Damn! It shouldn’t happen.

  70. The laws are out of control…a senior in our local high school was convicted for having consensual sex with his girlfriend, who admitted she advanced on him…..he is now a sex offender!!! How about her parents that let them date, shouldnt they take some responsiabilty?..it was like handing him candy and saying dont eat it… how is listing this type of crime a sex offedner helping protect the children.. seems to me they are ruining the lives of children…

  71. […] of my daughter. I feel a little fear and a little rage. But I, like, Lenore Skenazy, the author of Free Range Kids, think that our sex offender laws are a bit nuts sometimes. And they’ve just gotten a little […]

  72. @Donna (4/29/10) THANK YOU for writing the absolute TRUTH! Parents/lawmakers/politicians WANT everyone to believe that teens everywhere are being FORCED to have sex. Are every one of those people INSANE? Have THEY forgotten being a teenager? Or were they dropped from an alternate universe where sex was never thought about until they reached a ‘state-mandated’ age & someone from the government showed up at their homes to unlock their sexual desires & gave them PERMISSION? SOUNDS STUPID, doesn’t it? BUT THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE TELLING THE PUBLIC!

    Another thing that needs addressed about teens & sex is the teen pregnancy rate & a teens ability to obtain birth control. In every state except Ohio & N. Dakota, there are laws concerning a teens ability to obtain birth control without their parents permission. THINK ABOUT THIS: What about all the parents who choose a ‘responsible’ path to their teens sexuality & place them on birth control YEARS before they are legally able to consent to sex in the first place. The parent in these cases is the CORNERSTONE of ‘contributing to the delinquency of a minor’, but it will be the person the teen is having sex with who will actually shoulder the burden of those charges. Sounds like ‘baiting’ to me .. or better yet, legally ‘pimping’ out your kid.

    On an obvious note, teen pregnancy – you can walk into any high school across the USA & find a teenage girl (or several more likely) who is pregnant. If teens are being FORCED to have all this sex, where are all the stories about the rapists? The media should be having a field day with those stories! All these teen girls are being RAPED & FORCED to carry these babies! Again, sounds stupid, but that’s what the aforementioned persons would argue is the truth!

    Tough on crime = Believe my lies about altered reality, believe only in what I tell you to be true, question not my ability to use common sense, logic, or critical thinking skills. I will protect your children by destroying their futures, sentencing them to state-run prisons, and branding them upon their eventual release. Children will be protected by their own incarceration! TRUST ME … I’m a parent/lawmaker/politician.

  73. loved the article and using it in my thesis, thank you

  74. IL is stripping sex offenders of their professional licenses through the state! Claiming their conduct is unbecoming of professionals.

    Sex offenders/felons have a tough enough time finding employment and now IL is taking away their professional licenses.

    If a professional who happens to be a sex offender can’t find employment what hope is there for sex offenders without college degrees?

  75. Reminds me of how ex-congressman Mark Foley asked a number of different kids how long their members were.

  76. Hey, what about Joshua Lundsford? He sexually molested a young girl and never went to prison for it. Why did this woman get such a harsh sentence? Where’s the justice?

  77. Charma –
    If you look up Mark Lunsford and threatens Ohio prosecutor, you will find his EXACT WORDS QUOTED. “His son IS NOT like other sex offenders and DOES NOT belong on that list. If you proceed to prosecute my son, I will spend every dime I (the Jessica fund that is!) have exposing each and every case where you have made mistakes or deals that resulted in a real criminal getting a lesser sentence or went free.”
    When asked by a reporter “What about all the others who have been convicted of the same offense your son is charged with?” HIS REPLY: “I DON’T CARE ABOUT ANYONE ELSE’S KIDS, JUST MINE”.

    I also would like you to know that Joshua had a restraining order against him, filed by his girlfriends parents (yes, the 14 y/o was his girlfriend), to keep him away from her. AMAZING what publicity can get you out of.

    It’s a tie for me which P.O.S. is more repulsive – Mark Lunsford or John Walsh.

  78. If you or your family members, or friends have been harmed by these insane sex offender laws, contact us, we have been fighting the insanity for years.
    We have provided a FORM to submit your story. CLICK HERE
    Citizens for Change, America http://www.cfcamerica.org
    Collateral Victims of Laws in America http://www.collateralvictims.com
    Together, one by one, we are gathering an army of workers and voices. Will your voice be heard?

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