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May 13, 2011

"Two Truths and a Lie: Stories at the Juncture of Teen Sex and the Law"

The title of this post is the title of this interesting-looking paper on SSRN by Michelle Oberman.  Here is the abstract:

Contemporary laws governing adolescent sexuality are internally incoherent and chaotically enforced, and contemporary legal scholarship on the subject shies away from the core problem of addressing and remedying adolescents’ vulnerability in sexual encounters.  In order to posit a meaningful relationship between the criminal law and adolescent sexual encounters, one must examine what we know about the nature of adolescent sexuality both from the academic literature on the subject and also from the perspective of the adults who control the criminal justice system’s response to teens’ sexual interactions.

This essay illuminates the intersection between coercive adolescent sexual encounters and the criminal justice system via an in-depth study of a 2003 rape prosecution involving two seventeen year-olds.  Using the case as a map, I explore the broader implications of the prosecution by interviewing a variety of experts and by analyzing the contemporary literature on sexual norms among youth.  Against this backdrop, I relate a series of interviews conducted with the major players involved in the prosecution: the prosecutors, the defense lawyer, the trial court judge and both appellate lawyers.  Examining this single case from a variety of perspectives permits a deeper understanding of how the law endeavors to regulate adolescent sexual encounters and of why it fails.

May 13, 2011 at 11:21 AM | Permalink


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The most uneven, horrendous, and blatently horrendous sentencing schemes is the sex offender registration statutes. Unevenly applied bbecause (as most of you remember) there was sex between teens in highschool and one party turned 18 befoore the other which sometimes results in felony filings. What protects these participants from lifetime sex registration? We all know there are those ooffenders that should register and there is a need to protect the general population from "dangerous offenders" but many judges and prosecutors take no pride in weighing the real need for registration. California is one of those states that suffers from this uneven system. Former superior Court Commissioner and defense Attorney.

Posted by: Jack Gold | May 15, 2011 2:17:30 AM

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