I’m Off for a Day on the Town with a “Sex Offender” (And His Mom!)

Hi Readers! I’m very psyched because tomorrow I am going to meet a young man named Ricky and his mom, Mary Duval. Ricky is a Tier 3 Predator Status Sex Offender, on the list for life. Or at least he was, for almost four years.

How he finally got off that list this year is a story of a mom’s tenacity. How he got ON it is a story of a country that has passed sex offender laws that just don’t mesh with what we need. We NEED to keep child rapists away from our kids. We HAVE laws that make our children into rapists. Case in point?

Ricky.

When Ricky was 16 he had consensual sex twice with a girl he met at a teen club. She told him she was 15. Turns out she was just 13. Long story short: Even though the girl and her parents did not want Ricky prosecuted, he was. He admitted the “crime,” and thus he ended up one of America’s nearly 1 million registered sex offenders.

I’ve written about his story, but never with the same frankness and detail as on the website he and his mom put together, Rickyslife.com .  The story is so outrageous and the mom has been so good at bringing attention to the issue of teens branded as predators for having sex with other teens, that the media have paid attention. Now the mother and son are coming to New York from Oklahoma to tape an episode of John Stossel’s show. It’ll air later in the week.

Tomorrow, though, I’m showing them the sights. (Well, showing them to Ricky and describing them to his mom, who recently went blind from Marfan Syndrome. Did that stop her? Clearly not.)

So no posts from me Tuesday. I’ll be on the town with a mom and son I can’t wait to meet. — Lenore

61 Responses

  1. This is why I tell my brother he was darn lucky. He was 16 and the girl was 13. She lied about her age. She looked 16 when I met her! It’s ridiculous.

  2. Your Marfan link is broken.

    The whole registry thing is mental. There should only be actual rapists or pedophiles on them, not teens who have sex with other teens, not people who urinate in public, nor people who were naked in their own house & someone happened to see them. It just feeds the fear that there’s child molesters around every corner.

  3. Send a hello and support from your readers!

  4. Too bad John Stossel isn’t including some of your insight in the segment for the show. Just as well, a cousin that works as in the TV industry has found it can be difficult working with him.

  5. Stories like his are why I will one day be having the “Birds & Bees & Sex Offender Registry” discussion with my child.

  6. These zero tolerance policies are sickening with whom they snare. The only way to get them changed is to constatly hound your congress critter. Unfortunately I do know a few people who like the law the way it is. They feel that anything to keep children from having sex before marriage is good. If scaring them about disease doesn’t work maybe this story will.

  7. Just a bumpety bump, your post on parentdish about car decal stickers needs a little help from the sanity patrol. It’s full-on panic over there.

  8. The problem with the registry is a political problem. Politicians use sex offender registries to gain and keep office. “I’ve put (large number) of people on the registry, thus keeping your children safe. So vote for me!”

    If any politician tells the truth, that a lot of people on the sex offender registry aren’t sex offenders, his political opponents will instantly denounce him as anti-child, for the rights of violent criminals, against families, etc.

    And back in the real world, actual sex offenders are lost in the noise, free to strike again.

  9. I was once told that a fairly large percentage of the “sex offender” registry was men caught having consensual sex with other men (in states where that’s illegal, or in places where it’s considered obscenity). that’s not so helpful either!!

  10. Young people everywhere are finding themselves in this dilemma. My brother will be on the sex offender list for life. He has a hard time finding places to live or a job because of it. His neighbors refuse to speak to him because he’s a registered sex offender. All because of this situation: He was 21 and in college and met some other students at a national park while camping and met a girl who claimed to be 18. When game wardens checked in on their late night camp party, he and the girl were engaged in “sexual activity.” When everyone’s i.d.’s were checked, the girl turned out to be only 16. My brother was arrested and charged with “indecency with a child.” The girl and her parents DID NOT press charges. The local police department did. And now this will follow him for the rest of his life. He is not a monster, but he is treated like one.

  11. A few years back one of my flatmates was in a pub. Met a girl there. She said she was 18 (reasonable presumption as she was drinking in a pub). They went home, had sex.
    Next morning I go to kick him awake for work (not realizing he has picked up) and I recognize the girl.

    She wasn’t 18. She was 15 with a fake ID.
    He was 18.
    He would have been screwed for life in the US!
    (She did look about between 17-19 years old).

    Instead I informed her I would destroy her life if it ever got out (she was a Youth Leader in the church – her dad a minister, that sort of thing) and to not pull that stunt ever again, at least wait until she was legal (16 in our state).

  12. I wonder how many people have had sex across an age barrier that is now considered illegal. How many high school seniors have knowingly had sex with freshmen or sophomores? How many college freshmen have knowingly had sex with high school juniors or seniors?

    Given our insane treatment of people who have engaged in that activity, I doubt it would be possible to collect the data honestly.

  13. My great-grandfather was 21, my great-grandmother was 16 when they got married.

  14. I guess the bigger issue here is that sex with a near stranger is never a good thing, eh? If he actually KNEW the girl, he would have discovered that she was only 13. BIG mistake, eh? Huge maturity difference in the ages. I know plenty of adults now who, in hindsight, are now realizing how close they came to making mistakes that would change their lives. Not sure how I feel about that either way. And… for the record…. I think all those marriages from long ago (hubby and I both have great aunts / aunts who were 15 when they married – one a much older man of 25, and… have to say…. the wedding photos are pretty creepy – she looks like a child because she is).

  15. Sorry – did not finish the above thought….. those marriages were not a good idea – usually a dominant male looking for a suitable woman to bear children, cook for him, etc. I’m not saying these weren’t good men, but… the premise behind it all is extremely limiting for the young girls they married or got pregnant – whatever. I think sexual boundaries are a good thing (which means age boundaries also a good thing for the very young) – respect for yourself and others, a good thing….. Grow up a little … find yourself… then engage in all sorts of relationship crap – totally meant for adults.

  16. “I was once told that a fairly large percentage of the “sex offender” registry was men caught having consensual sex with other men (in states where that’s illegal, or in places where it’s considered obscenity).”

    That is not true. Male homosexual sex is not illegal in any state. The Supreme Court invalidated those laws several years ago and even prior to then it was rarely prosecuted.

    The vast majority of people on the sex registry are there for statutory rape – consensual sex with a person under the age of consent.

  17. As a genealogist, I’ve run into plenty of young marriages, and from what I can tell, they mostly worked very well. Both boys and girls (actually, men and women) were well-prepared by their parents for adult life, able to support themselves and a family, to run a home and rear children. Marrying “young” actually makes more sense, physically: the women then bearing children at the healthiest age, and the men with a legitimate outlet when their sexual urges are the strongest.

    I’m not saying that it isn’t good to take time for education in today’s society — though we do drag out the process more than it needs to be — but there’s no denying we keep our young people dependent, immature, and irresponsible long after their ancestors were full-fledged, highly capable members of society. (Remember Admiral David Farragut, who commanded his first ship at age 12?)

  18. What a nightmare for this family. I wonder if there are people challenging these laws under the “cruel and unusual” punishment clause of the constitution. I’m no lawyer but I would think the states could be liable for the damage a life sentence of sorts that’s imposed on people for these types of “crimes.”

  19. @ Sherri – I agree with all those things – that sex is something that you should wait to engage in, find yourself, etc. HOWEVER, I strongly disagree that we should criminalize, imprison and stigmatize people who do not agree with that point of view. Even worse, we only criminalize, imprison and stigmatize ONE member of the required twosome not both. The young women are agreeing to engage in sex – often encouraging the attention – and then are not punished one bit while the lives of the young men are completely destroyed. There are many things that I don’t want my child to do before a certain age, sex is just one. I don’t think that her co-perpetrators need life sentences because she made a bad choice.

    Many teenagers want to have sex. The age of the onset of puberty is going down so teenagers are physically ready for sex earlier. The fact that we, as adults, don’t believe that their minds are ready is no reason to brand one willing participant – and only one willing participant – as a pervert for life. While there are other things that we do set age limits for (drinking, smoking), the penalties for violating those laws are: (a) extremely minor and not lengthy prison sentences followed by a life sentence on a registry; and (b) are levied on the actual minor so that there is some discouragement for the behavior. For sex, minors are entitled to engage in sex willy nilly with no penalty while their partners are thrown in prison for years.

  20. I have to admit…I was a girl who lied about her age. I “developed” early. So by the time I was in 8th grade was a generous C cup. I often said I was 16 but didnt have my license yet…and no one ever questioned it. Granted I wasn’t having sex, but I did like the male attention…I think back now and shudder, those poor guys. You get a slightly hormonal teenage girl who is just discovering the boy girl thing and you could end up on a sex registry.
    There are genuine victims in statatory rape and genuine predators…just not in most cases of teen on teen dating…It really is ridiculous.

  21. My daughter was just 13 when she got into a relationship with a 16 year old guy at school. They were caught in a compromising situation by some other kids at the school, which brought the whole thing to our attention. We worked with his parents and the school to ensure better supervision, and were very grateful they hadn’t been caught by the police (they were in a public park) because the consequences for him would have been huge. There has got to be a better way.

  22. My thought on a better way is to accept that some teenagers want to have sex whether we like it or not and to require a lack of consent to get a sex crime conviction. Lack of consent need not be force or even verbalized. It could be proven by showing: the age of the victim, the age of the defendant, the power situation between the 2 individuals, the state of mind of the victim at the time, threats or coercion on the part of the defendant. Ultimately leave it up to the jury to decide if the victim consented and if that consent was valid. It would not only allow, under the right circumstances, for the prosecution of a principal who has sex with a 11 year old student but also a principal who has sex with a mentally-challenged 16 year old student (not a crime in my state unless by actual force) or a boss who threatens to fire a single mother of 3 who is one paycheck from homeless if she doesn’t have sex with him and stops prosecuting horny young men as predators.

  23. @Donna – I totally agree – I guess was trying to make the point that the REAL issue is not a criminal one at all – but merely a mistake we’ve all made before (well, most of us) in not getting to know a partner – a potential companion – whatever – well before moving forward and / or not listening to our own inner voice regarding what’s right – what’s reckless, etc. I do not think what he did was criminal – probably should have clearly stated that. His mistake was….. well…. like I said a judgment thing. It’s not always the young men getting in trouble either – sometimes, it is the other way around. In the teen years, there is a fine line between consensual and not consensual sex too…..

    By contrast @ trb – I, too, was a busty teen – curvy – dressed like my peers but got a lot of unwanted attention from older men AND was the victim of a lot of rumors started by 16 year old boys. Again, not sure what my point is with that, but… these are all contributing factors to the core issue here.

    @ Linda Wightman – I still stand by my analysis of the appropriate age for marriage….. Girls who are still developing, have the telltale signs of little kid “baby fat” and have only been menstruating for a year or two are not adults. And I know – boys went off to war at 12 way back when – girls had a couple babies before 18, but…. marriages that occurred as late as the 1940’s or 50’s when people lived longer – girls were educated and grown men knew better than to approach teenage girls for dates ….. were – I’m sorry – creepy. Grown men already into their careers standing as grooms to adolescent brides who, only a few years before were playing with dolls is WRONG – should feel wrong to these people.

    I find it a little upsetting that just because certain girls look appealing to men BUT may still be very much little girls emotionally and intellectually… that it is OK for boys – a full three or four years older and much stronger …. to approach and become “involved” with them. Maybe it’s just my own past as someone who had to strenuously decline a number of unwanted aggressive approaches from both men and boys (@Donna – I’ve met the creepy boss and I’ve been the single mother approached – and I’ve met the aggressive young boy. They are the same guy.). Need to reiterate here that I do not think this boy did anything criminal, but… he did act inappropriately. For the record, most of the “sex offenders” on record in my area are teenage boys with similar offenses. As the mother of a 14 year old girl, I DO watch these people.

  24. Sherri – I don’t know the situations you mentioned because I wasn’t there. But, the man who is willing to use an imbalance of power to coerce a woman into sex is a significant step from a horny teenager who keeps pestering a fellow teen girl.

    Now, the teen boy who slips a girl a roofie, or “helps” her get stupid drunk (while staying more or less sober himself), THAT guy becomes the boss who is willing to threaten his employee into having sex with him.

    The issue is power, and a willingness to abuse it.

    What makes this all very confusing is that power makes men sexy to (many) women, and whereas post pubescent youth is sexy to (many) men. Both of these attractions make sense from an evolutionary perspective. But put these attractions together and you get 13 to 16 year old girls who are attracted to 18+ year old men, and 18+ year old men who are willing to be convinced that the girl they are looking at is actually a a young woman (legally at least).

    As for the marriages from the 50s and earlier that involved grown men and young teenage girls… remember Jerry Lee Lewis. He married his 13 year old cousin. I’m not old enough to remember that, but I’m told that he caught heat for that not because she was so young or that she was his cousin (both legal) but because he hadn’t yet divorced his first wife.

    Creepy indeed.

  25. How did this boy act inappropriately beyond your view that 16 year olds shouldn’t have sex – a subject on which intelligent minds disagree? He met a girl at a dance, he believed her to be older both because she told him she was and she was in a club for 16-20 year olds, they dated and at some point had sex twice. As soon as he found out that she had lied about her age, he broke it off. End of story. There is no indication that he had sex with her the same night that they met (and even if he did, again, intelligent minds can disagree on the morality of a one-night stand). Contrary, it was portrayed as a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. It is unclear if he had met the girl’s family but it is clear that the girl met his mother. While the girl was completely wrong to lie and to apparently sneak into a club that she was too young to enter, I don’t think the boy did anything wrong at all.

  26. @Donna – If he knew her so well, why did he not know or at least have an idea of her real age? Where do you go to school? What year were you born? Do you drive? Why not? Come on. He obviously barely knew her. One fact IS clear – he had sex with her before he knew all that. Again – not a crime BUT very bad judgment. That is all I’m saying. I agree with you. BUT – we are sort of dancing around the real issue here. He DID do something wrong. He made a HUGE mistake. Would you give an adult friend advice to proceed in a relationship if he did not know where his potential girlfriend worked, lived or had grown up? Or – further – would you be surprised if she dumped him, robbed him or got pregnant on purpose? No – because you didn’t know her – he didn’t know her – BAD situation all around. The girl absolutely did something wrong. The fact that he was prosecuted for a boyfriend / girlfriend relationship – in his eyes – is terrible – should NOT happen again. BUT – did he do something wrong? Yes. Slap on the hand – learn from it – whatever – but he shouldn’t be excused for it. Respect who you’re with. At 16, you’re old enough to start learning that. And… I never said that 16 year olds shouldn’t have sex. I think it depends on the maturity level of the person.

    @Brian J – I know…. attraction is attraction (and, for the record, I think it is fine to flirt – have fun – do whatever), BUT leering, enjoying a look or admitting attraction is one thing – acting on an impulse is another…. And, let’s face it, a lot of men / boys are constantly horny into their 20’s / 30’s; some just handle it better in terms of separating just sex from relationships (same with women).

  27. Stupid kid- or maybe just a typical kid- (debate it either way) but a sex offender? No way.

    BTW- John Stossel’s show? Good luck. Let’s just say he tells the story he wants to tell.

  28. @Linda Wightman–I believe I have read of several medical problems associated with very young mothers, including more Down’s and other genetic/chromosonal problems. Plus the mother’s brain and body are still growing. 18 or older is a healthier age for first childbirth, and even cultures that try to have a lot of kids postpone first childbirth.

    On the general topic, I overheard a disturbing conversation at a coffeeshop. A woman who was fostering a teen girl (I beliveve they were related by blood or friendship, so this was not an official foster home) and who was also I believe a bio mother was put on the California sex registry because the foster girl got pregnant by her boyfriend. Apparently the boyfriend was at the house a lot during the day (when the adult was at work). So the mom “contributed to” the pregnancy. So what exactly should she have done instead?

    And, as far as the likelihood of living near a sex offender, it is enormous if you live in any reasonably dense town unless you live next to a school. I have seen the Calif. maps; it is obvious that laws make offenders concentrate in the gaps between schools. The more the schools spread out, the fewer areas of town are open for offenders to live in. Not surprisingly, this means they often live in the same poor neighborhoods of cities.

  29. Mike, on July 27, 2010 at 9:07 pm Said:

    The problem with the registry is a political problem. Politicians use sex offender registries to gain and keep office. “I’ve put (large number) of people on the registry, thus keeping your children safe. So vote for me!”

    If any politician tells the truth, that a lot of people on the sex offender registry aren’t sex offenders, his political opponents will instantly denounce him as anti-child, for the rights of violent criminals, against families, etc.

    And back in the real world, actual sex offenders are lost in the noise, free to strike again.

    Linda Wightman, on July 28, 2010 at 2:30 am Said:

    As a genealogist, I’ve run into plenty of young marriages, and from what I can tell, they mostly worked very well. Both boys and girls (actually, men and women) were well-prepared by their parents for adult life, able to support themselves and a family, to run a home and rear children. Marrying “young” actually makes more sense, physically: the women then bearing children at the healthiest age, and the men with a legitimate outlet when their sexual urges are the strongest.

    I’m not saying that it isn’t good to take time for education in today’s society — though we do drag out the process more than it needs to be — but there’s no denying we keep our young people dependent, immature, and irresponsible long after their ancestors were full-fledged, highly capable members of society. (Remember Admiral David Farragut, who commanded his first ship at age 12?)

    Linda and Mike have hit the nail on the head. These INSANE sex offender laws have gone over the limit and Ricky’s story is simply one of hundreds of thousands of other similar stories where teens are listed for having sex with other teens or adults that have consensual sex with underage girls.

    Not saying that should be legal but I am saying that having everyone of the same list lets the true predators hide in the “white noise” mike described.

    I have looked and looked and looked and I cannot find one single story NATIONWIDE that even one crime has been prevented because of this registry.

    If a middle aged man looks at a hot teenaged girl and gets turned on that is NORMAL HUMAN SEXUALITY. Not saying it should be legal, Again I am saying their is a huge difference between that and raping pre pubescent children.

    Most of our ancestors would be labeled sex offenders by today’s standards It has gotten BEYOND ridiculous. As Mike pointed out this is “Political Gold” and anyone that dare introduce a fact or appose some law named after a child is branded a “pedo sympathizer” and defeated in the next election.

    The “Boom Times” are over in our country it is only now that people are actually doing a cost/benefit analysis of this problem and are slowly starting to realize that the BILLIONS spent watching otherwise harmless people is adding to all our state deficits.

    I live in Ohio and our supreme court recently struck down Ohio’s version of the Adam Walsh act where it was applied after final judicial orders had been given.

    We are 3 billion in the red and this is costing MILLIONS more to re classify 26,000 ppl that this change effected.

    Wake up and smell the damned coffee America. Put your torches and pitchforks down for a moment and check what all your efforts have produced.

    Next open your wallets and ask if you want to dump more money into a system that has not stopped even one crime from happening nationwide.

    The Jaycee Dugard case comes to mind. This animal was on the strongest possible supervision yet kept a sex slave in his backyard for 18 years?

    The evidence is in and the registry is a “dismal failure”.

  30. Find it odd and… will say it again …. creepy…. that it appears a number of middle-aged men are turned on by teenage girls. Whether you agree with the sex offender laws or not, making your point to the contrary by supporting, even celebrating taboo-ish sexual missteps and, yes, irresponsible behavior is NOT NORMAL. This 16 year old boy should treat this as a learning experience – whether or not he is an actual “sex offender”. I don’t believe he is, BUT @Sheepie Herder, if you believe that a grown man who looks at “hot” teenage girls and gets turned on does not have the potential to molest one of them, you are naive. Hot? Turned on? What happened to celebrating truly normal human sexuality – however wild, kinky and intimate it can get – between consenting adults. Teenage girls LOOK like kids despite curves and pretty faces. Keep in mind, a number of our ancestors DID have 12 year old wives at age 30 OR marry their first cousins. Now we know, medically, that none of those scenarios were emotionally or physically desirable. Back then, women had few rights and lifespans were very short. AND, rape WAS, basically, legal back then. I think you’ve lost perspective. If you dislike political agendas and supporting overly stringent sex offender laws – so be it. If you have other personal agendas, please don’t confuse the two. Most young teens that I know are not “dependent, immature and irresponsible” (@LInda Wightman & Sheepie Herder); they are strong, athletic, educated, self-sufficient, interesting people who DO discuss sex openly with peers and parents – who ARE learning the difference between like / love and lust AND who are beginning to form who and what they want to be when they reach adulthood.@Dana – YES – that conversation IS disturbing about the mother being put on the registry. Appalling -really. I’m sure the approach to such “protection” needs to be revised – and, no, I do not think it is successful, BUT let’s not confuse ourselves with all these side agendas. I’m the product of a teenage mother (who gave me up for adoption), AND I was a single mother myself for years (after a semi-successful consensual, longterm relationship, so… no agenda here) – I have NO PROBLEM with human sexuality, reproduction and / or teenage hormones; I do, however, have a problem with people who want to use excuse bad behavior – theirs or others – to make some sort of at best, “free-spirited” – at worst, uninformed – point. Semantics aside, I do NOT think this kid is a sex offender, but… if we are talking immature…. well – I think his judgment exhibited THAT perfectly. Is that not clear to anyone else? I’m out – have said my piece. A lot of good comments here – a lot of people passionate about their communities, which is an EXCELLENT thing, right?

  31. “Most of our ancestors would be labeled sex offenders by today’s standards ” — I must disagree. The rare case did end up in court (very helpful to genealogists — ancestors who got in trouble are easier to follow than those who stayed out of court) but the vast majority were not one-night stands with a stranger, let alone rape or child molestation, but young people who were legally married, normal citizens. There is a huge difference between a young couple accepting adult family and societal responsibilities and children — or adults — following selfish urges.

  32. This could have easily happened to my bf in high school because I was very young for my grade in fact when 9th grade started I was 13 and the first boy who asked me out was a senior who was 19 because he was held back I don’t even think I asked his age or vice versa just grade and classes.
    We didn’t have sex but jeez we easily could have and possibly ruined his life just cause we were dumb kids.

  33. Why is it always the boy who is punished? The girl had sex with a minor too.

  34. Would my high school girlfriend have been a “sex offender” I was 15 she was 18. Seems ridiculous to me!

  35. I don’t agree with the view that maybe the guy should have done some more ‘research’ before sleeping with the girl. What’s he supposed to do… ask for ID? Say ‘Really, are you sure?’ when she says her age.

    Yes, it’s wise not to sleep with someone you don’t know well, but if they’ve lied to you, it’s not your responsibility to check they were telling the truth.

  36. “Male homosexual sex is not illegal in any state. The Supreme Court invalidated those laws several years ago and even prior to then it was rarely prosecuted.”

    But even though the laws have been invalidated, those guys are *still on the list*, because there’s no mechanism for getting them off.

  37. Sherri,

    Just to address the point of stuff you find “creepy”. You seem to forget we are animals and all animals have sex to procreate. Sure we have big brains and “know better”, but we are hardwired to want to have sex. Is it creepy is an older gorilla picks a young female mate? What about when it happens with turtles or sharks?

    Getting turned on by an attractive young is not creepy, it is natural, leering, spying, or trying to get her to bed are creepy at least by today’s societal standards. 500 years ago “kids” had to get married and have sex or they wouldn’t live long enough to raise a family. It wasn’t bad choices or creepy it was necessary.

  38. No system is perfect, that’s just a fact. At first it would seem obvious that cases of consensual sex should not put someone on the sex offender list. But, where do you draw the line? Most seem to agree that 16-13 is okay, but is 19-14 still okay? 25-16? I don’t have that answer. What I’d really like to understand more about is how the registry actually prevents these crimes from happening. Does anyone have these kinds of statistics?

  39. @Claudia – Seriously? “It’s wise not to sleep with someone you don’t know well.” Wise? I generally think of “wise” as being somewhere above bare common sense, but I suppose I’m with you there, just much more emphatic about it. Correspondingly, it’s incredibly foolish (particularly for younger teens) to have sex with someone they don’t know well. But, you lose me completely at “it’s not your responsibility…”

    You read what happened to this kid right? [Yes, sex offender status and any prosecution in this case is terrible.] In light of the consequences it seems clear the poor kid took too little responsibility.

    My girls will be taught that anything related to sex is their responsibility. If you wander through life without taking responsibility for your own actions and their consequences until legally required to do so, you’ll get nowhere and mess up plenty along the way.

    Should a 16-year-old boy trust a girl he doesn’t know when she claims she’s 16 and on birth control? No! Heavens to Betsy, no! Do a bit of cost-benefit analysis looking at the legal and non-legal consequences. Take responsibility.

  40. Ricky’s story is a perfect example of the pitfalls of Predator Panic. Our laws are so hypersensitive we have placed children as young as age 10 for such behaviors as sexting or consensual sex with other teens. In regards to sexting, states are having to pass specific laws just to keep teens off the registry. The registry itself should be abolished. It is nothing more than a tool for revenge and vigilante violence.

  41. I think there’s a big difference between a middle-aged man having sex with an under-age girl and a slightly older teenaged boy having sex with an under-aged girl. The former is a bit “creepy” but the latter is entirely normal, because, let’s face it, boys mature slower than girls. Most 15 year-old girls find boys their own age too immature. I remember when I was a teenager a lot of girls in my class had boyfriends a couple of years older. No way should that be considered a sex crime. I believe that in UK (where I was a teenager) the law allows for sex between a couple where one is under the age of consent (16) if the other is less than 4 years older (although I’m not totally sure on this).

  42. Actually I can’t find any documentation of UK age of consent “close in age exemptions”, but Canada’s law is quite explicit: at age 14 and 15 it is legal to have sex with someone up to 5 years older, and at age 12 and 13 it is legal to have sex with someone up to 2 years older. 16 is the age of consent. Sounds quite sensible to me. And several US states apparently have similar “romeo and juliet provisions”. So what is a sex-offender registry crime in some states is not a criminal offense at all in others. Ridiculous situation.

  43. What bothers me most is the fact that most middle school and high school sex education classes do not talk about the consequences other than pregnancy and STD’s. If these laws are going to stay, it needs to be spelled out to the teens that this may happen to them. Then they can decide if it’s worth it.

  44. “Male homosexual sex is not illegal in any state. The Supreme Court invalidated those laws several years ago and even prior to then it was rarely prosecuted.”

    But even though the laws have been invalidated, those guys are *still on the list*, because there’s no mechanism for getting them off.”

    While I can’t say that there are NO men on the registry for having consensual sex with other men, there are not a LARGE NUMBER of them. There haven’t been a large number of men prosecuted for this crime since the 1800’s, let alone since sex registries came into being.

  45. “Find it odd and… will say it again …. creepy…. that it appears a number of middle-aged men are turned on by teenage girls.”

    Why do you find this odd? We are a culture that worships youth and abhors aging. I don’t find it odd at all. We live in the culture we created.

  46. “Would you give an adult friend advice to proceed in a relationship if he did not know where his potential girlfriend worked, lived or had grown up?”

    If that is what he wanted to do, sure. I’d say to make sure he had condoms but otherwise, it’s his life. I’m not opposed to the idea of one-night stands as long as everyone is on board with the idea.

    And this was NOT a one night stand. These two kids dated. She met his parents. They appear to have gone to different schools so there is nothing he knew that could confirm or deny her story of her age. I’m sure she is a capable of lying about her bithdate as she is about her age so asking her would be pointless. And she looked 16 and they met at a dance club for 16 and over so he had no real reason to doubt her age. At some point, you do accept people at face value. I’d hate to live in a world where we are all considered to have failed in some respect for not asking for documented proof of some fact from people that we care about.

  47. Quote: Elfir, on July 27, 2010 at 7:31 pm Said:
    Stories like his are why I will one day be having the “Birds & Bees & Sex Offender Registry” discussion with my child.”

    Elfir, I had that discussion successfully with my own son. I taught him to respect women, and defer to women even when they are in the wrong.

    The one thing I could NOT protect my son from was a false accusation.

    During a tantrum when she wasn’t allowed to attend a party, a younger female cousin claimed my son raped her years before. She happily attended the party , while his young life ended, forever ruined that day.

    The only proactive thing you can ‘teach’ you son is to simply not exist, Elifr. To be accused is to be guilty. To be male is to be guilty. Children don’t lie, and even when they do, rape shield laws and victim’s rights laws will trump any inconvient truths such as evidence and reasonable doubt.

    Should you ever come to Denver, Lenore, I would be proud to introduce you to my son ( the terror of neighborhood soccer moms) as well.

  48. 500 years ago “kids” had to get married and have sex or they wouldn’t live long enough to raise a family. It wasn’t bad choices or creepy it was necessary.

    That’s a common misconception. Even 500 years ago it wasn’t that bad, but I was talking about 200-300 years ago in the United States, where women frequently married in their mid-teens to early 20’s (men slightly older) and lived to be in their 70’s and even 80’s — certainly past child-rearing years. “Life expectancy” statistics are skewed by infant mortality and early-childhood deaths — people who died before contemplating reproduction.

    Occasionally I see in the records men who married much younger women, usually for second wives. Mostly, however, the pairing seems to be people of compatible ages who are not creepy, not making bad choices, not bowing to necessity in the gene-pool lottery, and not merely satisfying their sexual urges: they are living normal, adult life. The big difference between them and current teens is that their society gave them the skills, attitudes, and support needed to be fully-functioning adults at that age, and ours doesn’t.

    You can argue that our society is better — or worse. Me, I think it goes both ways.

  49. “I was talking about 200-300 years ago in the United States, where women frequently married in their mid-teens to early 20′s (men slightly older) and lived to be in their 70′s and even 80′s — certainly past child-rearing years.”

    You certainly don’t need to go back that far. My paternal grandparents married at 16 (her) and 19 (him) in the 1930’s. They were happily married for almost 60 years when she died. My maternal grandparents also married young (19 and 21 or so) but they did divorce after 20 years. Young marriages were the norm as recent as the 40’s and 50’s in the US.

    Generations prior to the 60’s didn’t have this childhood that extends well into the mid-20’s. College was not as prevalent (or necessary) and most people left school to work at a young age (only one of my grandparents has a high school diploma and yet all were middle to upper middle class). This delayed adulthood was brought on by the post WWII financial boom. Increasingly more parents could support their kids through high school and college, so attending college, rather than working, became the ideal. As the length of education increases so does the date of marriage and also the date where you have to “grow up” and handle life on your own. We are still seeing this. When I was a college student, undergrad was generally enough to be successful. Kids were expected to be grown-up at 22 (whether in college or not that seemed to be the age that you were expected to act like an adult). Now as grad school becomes more and more necessary, society’s attitude is changing to true adulthood really beginning at 25.

  50. Donna, you are certainly right. My maternal grandmother married at 19 — working in and gradually taking over the family business from her mother — and I personally observed the happiness and success of their 60-year marriage.

    I am old enough to be shocked that many people think adulthood begins at 25! I could go on and on about this, but rather than hijacking this post further I’ll just note that it can’t be good to keep lowering the age of adult privileges while raising the age of adult responsibilities.

  51. Just to bring it back around to topic (sorta), it definitely isn’t good that we are raising the age of adult responsibility while mother nature is lowering the age of sexual maturity. Back in the day, sexual maturity coincided pretty closely with adult responsibily. Girls sexually matured around 13. By then, most ran the house, raised younger siblings while parents worked and/or worked in the fields or outside the house themselves. They were left pretty much unsupervised and knew how to make adult decisions. Boys sexually matured aroung 14 and by then were working either with their fathers or at their own jobs. Again, they were already experienced in adult decision making. This doesn’t mean that 13 and 14 year olds were running around getting married and having sex. It means that they were able to use reason to make such decisions in a mature fashion.

    Today girls sexually mature as young as 8 and boys as young as 10, and yet are not expected to act like an adult until 25. There is a huge disconnect there with bodies ready for sex and minds still trapped in childhood. It’s no wonder that a 24 year old thinks it’s okay to have sex with a 14 year old; he still thinks of himself as a child! Likewise, it is no wonder that the 14 year old (who has been sexually mature for YEARS now) isn’t creeped out by the 24 year old; she considers him her peer. It’s no wonder that neither sex can make responsible decisions about sex. They have no experience making responsible decisions about anything, let alone something as biologically driven as sex.

  52. So here’s the law in New Jersey, where I live (copied from Wikipedia, admittedly not the most authoritative source):

    The age of consent in New Jersey is 16. However, minors aged 13, 14 and 15 may legally engage in sexual activities with persons up to 4 years older than them. For example, it is lawful for a 14-year-old male or female to engage in sex with a person up to 18 years of age. This also applies for 13-year-olds (up to 17), etc.

    So this case would not have even been a crime in new jersey, let alone landed him on the sex offender registry. And Iowa (where the original “crime” occurred) has a similar provision, the difference being that only 14 and 15 year olds may engage in sexual activities with someone close in age. So if the girl had been 14 instead of 13, this wouldn’t have led to prosecution. Time for some standardization across states I think! Otherwise poor kids have to become lawyers before they can have sex…

  53. Donna: Just a couple observations:

    1) The period from 1946-1960 was an exception to a trend, starting in the 1890s if I remember right, toward increasing age at marriage. People in the 1950s married considerably younger than members of the previous few generations. While most people think of the 1950s as an ultra-normative period in American life, it was really a quite unusual decade in many ways.

    2) Another factor in young marriages up to maybe 80 years ago was that by their mid-teens, a fair number of kids would have lost one or both parents.

    3) While the age of sexual maturity has in fact declined fairly steadily in the last 100 years throughout the developed world (and the same decline is seen in countries that strictly prohibit the use of hormones in the production of meat and milk), girls hitting puberty at 8 and boys at 10 are still outliers; those are simply the ages such that if a kid hits puberty below them, there’s probably some medical problem going on.

  54. I do disagree that people in the 1950’s married considerably younger than previous generations. My grandparents got married in their teens in the end of the 20’s and they both stated, when we youngsters were agast at the age at which they got married, that there was nothing unusual about it at the time. I do believe that there was a delay in marriage during the 30’s and 40’s for obvious reasons – Great Depression and many young men off fighting in WWII – but I believe that that was the unusal time period.

    I don’t disagree that the age of 8 is an outlier for puberty (nor did I indicate otherwise). The majority of females hit menarche between 11 and 15, with the average being 12. That still means that the average girl has been sexually viable for 2 years at age 14 – with all the associated hormones and drive. She still probably can’t walk to school by herself but she can have children.

  55. With such large variance of the onset of puberty in the population it’s no wonder that it’s hard to regulate and legislate teen sexual activity. I wonder how other societies manage to get by, or heck, why they don’t collapse into absolute anarchy without the same kind of draconian laws and heavy handed enforcement that we have here.

    I wonder if it wouldn’t be much better for us as Americans to adopt similar attitudes (and laws, etc) as those found throughout much of Europe. Sure, maybe the morning newspaper would be a little more boring, but at least we wouldn’t be jailing teenage boys for dating teenage girls.

    It’s become fashionable over the last couple decades to denigrate Islamic values and traditions, but take a look at the ultra-conservative fear mongers out there and tell me that you don’t see an echo of fundamentalist Islam. The helicopter moms are failures as human beings unless they deliver their children safely to the age of 18 (or 21, or 25 as re: above comments) unblemished, unchallenged, completely convinced that they are the center of the universe, and above all, virgins. Those folks are one smidgen away from ritual honor killings in the city square.

    Bill O’Reilly would probably make some nasty face at being compared to a radical imam, but his values are much closer to theirs than they are to Lincoln’s. 😉

  56. Sherri, on July 28, 2010 at 11:46 am Said:
    “Find it odd and… will say it again …. creepy…. that it appears a number of middle-aged men are turned on by teenage girls.”

    Your going to get me booted from the brotherhood for telling you this but my lifes experience has shown that its WAY over 90% and NO were not talking about “little girls” with curves.

    The point and thae state are moot I just stated a fact I did not say it should be legal or try to justify those that cross the line.

    I have 2 teenaged daughters myself and there are many problems with “age difference” in our modern world that did not exist in the 18th century.

    I am saying we all have a “wild side” and when a good Looking Teengirl/woman walks past a group of men it is not the birthdate listed on her ID that catches their attention.

    Did I clarify that point or just did myself in deeper?..lol The truth can be difficult but it’s still the truth.

  57. Matter of fact sometimes art and humor say it better than bland text and debates. For those that care to please enjoy the folling short film.

    http://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/267106

  58. Tell us how ur day went.

  59. My name is Christine. I have a 21 year old son in the XXXXXX Correctional Institution. I am very concerned for him when he gets out. I am going to tell you my story and I would be glad to meet with you and anyone else because I feel this is entrapment, miscarriage of justice. I also will be appealing this due to the “equal protection under the law and due process under the law”.
    My son as most young adults downloaded LimeWire and this new program that his roommate put on his computer called FrostWire. After my son’s roommate put this Frostwire on his computer whenever my son searched for adult porn other things came up and not paying attention as young adults usually don’t do he clicked on different things. What he clicked on were images of girls under the age of 18. Not realizing their ages and really not paying attention he clicked on others out of stupidity, immaturity, curiosity or whatever other reason young adults do the things they do. He thought what he saw was sick and gross. He either deleted the file or just left it on his share program not thinking anything of it. A couple weeks later he had 25 cops with guns and a battery ram at his door. They scared my son as any young person would be scared and started questioning him. In a nutshell he told them he saw some young kids and he thought it was gross and sick. He told them he did not like that and he deleted them or just didn’t pay attention.
    Well 6 months later they arrested my son, not because of anything he clicked on because it wasn’t many but because there were 166 images, vidoes of under 18 porn. Unfortunately when you are on these share ware programs and type anything in it you come up with thousands of titles and some you don’t see. He was let out on bail and had a little less than a year before he went to prison.
    My son is NOT a sex offender; he never ever touched a child. He clicked on wrong titles and that was it. There is so much talk about child porn and young adults have the curiosity and the stuipidity and don’t know that it is against the law and how much trouble they can get into.
    Anyway, my son was finally sentenced and at the sentence he was given 18 months. The judge also stated he believed my son was NOT a sex offender but because the law states he has to say that he had to say it. He was not even going to give my son probation but the prosecutor stood up and asked for it and the judge gave him one year. The judge gave me an appeal status. I will be appealing this as far as I can go on the due process and the equal protection under the law. The sex offender registry and the websites have to go away. My son was examined and tested by a psychiatrist that the state uses to convict child molesters and very well known with the judges in Jacksonville and I thought that would help my son but unfortunately it did not. The result was that my son was NOT a sex offender but he is still in prison for making a stupid mistake and he is probably going to pay for this the rest of his life.
    My son worked two full time jobs, went to school full time and was a productive member of society and now he is in prison and ruined for the rest of his life. It just isn’t fair. These laws are hurting our children and not the real child molesters out there.
    I need help for my son and I am begging you to help me change the laws not only in Florida but the United States because this is an atrocity for these kids and their family.
    The registry is not helping anyone. If the person is a child molester, one that has raped a child put him behind bars for life; he does not need to be on the streets at all. The registry will then not have to be in effect because the real molesters will be in prison where they belong not the young adults or even adults that make a few wrong clicks on the computer are ruined for the rest of their lives. Instead the registry ruins people’s chances of living a normal life.
    My son says he deserves to be in prison because he was stupid and did not understand that what he clicked on was wrong and could get him in this much trouble. I don’t believe he belongs there at all for making a mistake. When you put people behind bars for peeing in public, mooning people, having consensual sex with someone younger, clicking on wrong titles, etc and then put this sex offender status on them when they get out there is something wrong.
    I have a few things I would like you to read. The laws need to be changed. This is not a one size fits all crime. Yes people that molest children belong in prison for the rest of their lives. People that do stupid things because they don’t think its wrong or because they don’t think and they never touched a child do not. We are now going to use a public defender because our appeals lawyer stated this could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and we are not rich and my son has been declared indigent by the judge.

  60. […] Readers —  Last summer I spent a day with Mary Duval, her son Ricky, and Ricky’s wife. Mary and Ricky were in town to appear on a John Stossel show […]

  61. […] Readers —  Last summer I spent a day with Mary Duval, her son Ricky, and Ricky’s wife. Mary and Ricky were in town to appear on a John Stossel show […]

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