When two people meet online and pursue a relationship, it is often the natural course of action that they will meet in person, and possibly have a sexual relationship. If one of the people is under the legal age to give consent in Wisconsin, it may not matter what the intention of the adult was, and he or she may be charged with statutory rape. The situation becomes even more complicated if the two people cross state lines during the period of time they are involved in order to have a physical relationship, and federal charges may be filed at this point.
Sometimes it takes the disclosure of a story occurring in another state for parents and law enforcement close to home to see if anything similar could be occurring in Wisconsin. For example, it was recently discovered that students at a high school located near San Francisco participated in a fantasy league involving varsity male athletes that awarded points for engaging in certain sexual acts with female students.
Earlier this week, we began a discussion about statutory rape charges brought against teenagers who have committed sexual acts with other allegedly consenting teenagers. Consent is a very tricky issue when paired with the concepts of age, maturity and responsibility for committing sex crimes. Some individuals mature far slower than others and states across the country wrestle with this issue by declaring different ages of "sexual majority."
Sexual acts committed by minors (and near-minors) with other minors can be complicated business. Statutory rape provisions in Wisconsin state law and state laws throughout the nation allow minors and very young adults to be prosecuted as statutory rapists, even if their alleged sex crimes were committed with a consensual partner of nearly the same age.
We have previously written that per Wisconsin's statutory rape laws, no one under the age of 16 can legally give their consent to have sex. Therefore, sex between a 15-year-old girl and her 17-year-old boyfriend could lead to statutory rape charges, even when the sex was completely consensual.
A recent case involving two Wisconsin teenagers has raised some controversy. It is a good example of the legal troubles that can befall two consenting teenagers in a romantic relationship as a result of strict enforcement of Wisconsin's sex crime laws.
We have previously written about the legal mess created by Wisconsin's statutory rape laws. Charges of statutory rape often stem from consensual sex between two teenagers who are dating or in a committed relationship.
We often post about Wisconsin's tough sex-crime laws, as well as the strict punishments which sex offenders face. But as we wrote last week, some sexual acts such as statutory rape are often considered crimes in name only.
We have previously written about the penalties associated with sex crimes. In addition to prison sentences and fines, those convicted of sex crimes must face the stigma of being listed on Wisconsin's sex offender registry.