I love a good debate. I know many of you do too. So chew on this story linked today on The Daily Beast:
In Sheboygan, Wis., in January, a 17-year-old boy was arrested, held in jail for a week in lieu of $1,000 cash bond, and charged with felony sexual assault for having sex with a minor - his 14-year-old girlfriend. Within days, also in Sheboygan, a 17-year-old girl was arrested for having sex with her 14-year-old boyfriend. The 17-year-old girl was charged with only a misdemeanor and released from jail almost immediately on a $1,000 "signature bond" AKA her good word.
He faces up to twenty-five years in prison, since he was charged with a felony. She faces up to nine months in jail for her alleged misdemeanor.
The same prosecutor handled both cases. And his justifications for charging the two older teens differently are that the girl has no prior criminal record and that the older girl's boyfriend would turn 15 in February, while the older boy's girlfriend wouldn't turn 15 till April. That's right, a great big two month difference.
The prosecutor doesn't say anything about whether or not the older boy has a prior criminal record. But someone in the District Attorney's Office didn't do his homework. Turns out the older girl has had at least a brush with the law. There's an unrelated criminal case pending against her for alleged battery.
The 17-year-old boy claims his young girlfriend told him she was 16, not 14. The Sheboygan Press reported that the girl, who may be pregnant, may have been a run away and may have been staying with the boy's family.
I'm generally way more uptight than is justified by my age. And I definitely don't approve of kids - that's aimed slightly more at the 14-year-olds than the 17-year-olds - having sex. But I think these prosecutions - of both the 17-year-olds - are stupid and overkill.
Both should have been lectured sternly, warned to keep their pants up and stay away from kids, and released to their parents...unless, of course, the parents knew about and allowed sex with 14-year-olds to go on under their roofs. I feel annoyed with all the parents in these cases, but I'm not sure what should happen to them.
What do you think?