« Domestic Violence didn't start with a boom box | Main | Cosby Show turns 25....soon »

Teenagers, Rape, Geese, and Ganders

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?


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Teenagers, Rape, Geese, and Ganders:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Ignorance of the law is no excuse. These kids know better and should have equal punishment whether male or female. I think someone should have a stern talk with the parents about being more involved. You can't control all of your kids actions but being involved is one way to make a difference in what they end up doing. I don't really know what charges other than being charged with child negligences would be applicable but public humility might help. ha ha


The double standard is pathetic as well as the charges being laid in the first place.

Odds are high as well that the male will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and face severe travel and living restrictions on this basis.

Where are the parents in all this for any of the children?


I don't see this as equal justice under the law no matter how you explain it. There is a 15 year old girl living next door with a 19 year old boy and his parents. Her parents are more than aware of it. The 16 year old up the block has his 14 year old girlfriend stay over frequently, and both sets of parents are aware of it. When I asked, I was told t was quite common these days, so I mind my own business. I'd hate to think that we'd be filling jail cells with teenagers who were having sex together.

Jeni Hill Ertmer

Well, frankly, I do think both the young man and the young woman should be charged alike -if indeed charges are warranted. And therein lies the rub -are charges of sexual assault actually warranted -in either case?
I'm not saying I think teens should be given carte blanc and allowed to go have sex willy-nilly (no pun intended there.) The fact of the matter is that teens have strong sexual urges too and maybe that is a bit of an understatement as well. I think sexual assault is a pretty strong charge to make for instances like this -provided it was actually NOT an assault, but consensual. Where are the parents? When it comes to controlling your children and their sex lives, I do think there are times when yes, parents are lax, very lax but how exactly are parents supposed to exercise TOTAL control over teens anyway? You can teach, you can lecture till the freaking cows come home but ultimately, about all you really can do is pray that they exercise self-control. Sometimes, yes -parents are to blame for various things their offspring do but speaking as a parent and now a grandparent as well, I don't think it is fair to attack, accuse parents of being neglectful because their child made what is considered a poor choice, albeit it one that many would also consider to be somewhat of a normal one too. Tough call on teens AND parents with respect to sex.

James B.

C, I think public humility is a better tool than some folks realize, especially with knuckleheaded kids. Judges should use it more often as an alternative to traditional punishments.

Wavemancali, I agree on all counts and am also curious about the parents. I don't think any charges are called for here. But if anyone should be charged with something it's the parents of the 14-year-olds. I think the 17-year-olds are too close to grown for their parents to be charged with anything, especially since the 17-year-olds were both charged as adults.

Monty, I hear ya. The thought of kids having rampant sex makes me cringe. But the thought of kids getting locked up for it might make me cringe even more.

Jeni, that is a million dollar question: when parents are or aren't responsible for their teenager's actions. If a kid is sneaking off and doing things, short of chaining that kid to a radiator in the basement, there's only so much a parent can do I'd guess.


There is such a gray area when it comes to sex in that age group. so, a birthday is going to make them an adult? What a crock.

Maybe we should lock them all up until they are 18. hmmm (:

Karmyn R

The double standard isn't right...and those kids are only getting in trouble because they got caught. How many others in America are doing the exact same thin?

However, holding the parents responsible? I have trouble with that one because I doubt many parents can control their teenage kids when they are out of the house. (I've seen this from experience with a sister - acted sweet and innocent and behaved to the parents but when she left with friends turned into someone completely different).

James B.

Pamela, Karmyn, you guys are double-teaming me again!


Pamela, I agree there is a gray area. When I was in high school we used to frown on any 17 or 18-year-old guy who dated someone younger than 15. Today, I waiver between creeped out at that scenario that scenario (17 or 18 and 15) and believing that so many "kids" do it that it shouldn't be a crime.

Karmyn, I hadn't thought about the getting caught argument. But that's very true. Those kids probably represented a very, very tiny fraction of all the teens humping in this country. As for holding the parents responsible, like I said I'm annoyed by the parents, but I can't pinpoint what, if anything, I think should happen to them. You're probably right - nothing. I know that by the time I was 17, I was fully capable of being sneaky and evading whatever "checkpoints" my parents had set up for me. So these kids' parents might be perfectly attentive. I shouldn't assume otherwise.

ɔıuʎɔıʇsɐɔɹɐs ǝɥʇ

I read both stories from the Sheboygan Press. So let me get this straight. A 17 year old girl has sex with her "179 month old" boyfriend and gets charged with a max 9 mos. misdemeanor. The 17 year old BOY, on the other hand, has sex with his "177 month old" girlfriend, and gets hit with a max 25 years felony.

Reading further in both articles, the boy "said he had sex with the girl two or three times." The GIRL, on the other hand, "admitted having sex with the boy between 10 and 15 times."

You'd better get your story straight, Jepsen, (the older boy,) Was it two times or was it three? According to Wisconsin Statute 948.025, Engaging in repeated acts of sexual assault of the same child, Whoever commits 3 or more violations under 948.02, (Sexual Assault of a Child,) within a specified period of time involving the same child is guilty of: a Class C felony if at least 3 of the violations were violations of s. 948.02 (2) (Second Degree Sexual Assault: sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who has not attained the age of 16 years.)

We already know the older GIRL is guilty of this by her own admission.



Jeez, relax people. Teenage sexual experimentation is natural and normal. What the kids need is not to be told to keep their pants on, but how to deal with their sexuality, not hide and run away from it.


The same double standard applies to teachers who bang their school children.

DJ Black Adam

Seventeen and Fourteen? There is no crime in either case in my opinion...

The comments to this entry are closed.

Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About The Miami Herald | Advertise