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July 20, 2011

NJ appeals court upholds lifetime sex offender registration based on buttocks horseplay by 14-year-olds

A helpful reader altered me to this notable sex offender registration news story coming from New Jersey, which is headlined "2 N.J. teens labeled sex offenders for life after 'horseplay' incident."   Here are the basics:

Call it bullying or call it horseplay. Either way, a state appellate court panel says roughhousing with a sexual connotation by a pair of 14-year-old Somerset County boys was a crime that requires them to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

In a decision handed down Monday, the three-judge panel acknowledged the severity of its decision, but said it was bound to uphold the law. "We are keenly aware that our decision may have profound lifelong ramifications for these two boys as well as others similarly situated," Judge Jose Fuentes wrote.

One of the boys, whose case went to trial, said he had sat on the faces of a pair of 12-year-old schoolmates with his bare buttocks in November 2008 "cause I thought it was funny and I was trying to get my friends to laugh," he told a family court judge.

But an act is considered criminal sexual contact if it is done for sexual gratification or to degrade or humiliate the victim, and punishable by lifetime registration — even for juveniles — under Megan’s Law, which requires a person convicted of a sex crime against a child to notify police of changes of address or employment.

The trial judge concluded the teenager intended to humiliate or degrade his victims and found him guilty of criminal sexual contact. The second teenager who was implicated pleaded guilty to criminal sexual contact, and received the same penalty.

The full appellate court opinion in this case is available at this link.

July 20, 2011 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

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Comments

The appellate court is to be congratulated for having the discipline to follow the statute as written. Courts have no portfolio to re-write statutes, good or bad.

That said, you have to wonder. This is classic 14 year-old behavior. Was it designed to humiliate? Of course! Welcome to the schoolyard, guys.

Every now and again, and this is one instance, the law, like the kids' display, is an ass.

Executive clemency should be reserved for very unusual cases. This is one of them.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 20, 2011 12:10:56 PM

Its a great day when I agree with everything Mr. Otis says! I second the sentiment that the appellate court should be applauded for showing discipline (however reluctantly) in this case.

Most grown men in America know of the "Atomic Sit-up". This situation may not have been conducted in the same manner, but the point remains the same. Lifelong registry as a sex offender because of this asinine behavior (being legally designated as Criminal Sexual Contact) seems far more damaging to a young life than the deviant act in question.

That, IMHO, is punishment disproportionate to the crime in question.

Posted by: Eric Matthews | Jul 20, 2011 12:22:37 PM

I'd say this is a good case to fire the district attorney. Good thing the 12 year olds didn't throw a punch afterwards, or they might have served time for assault.

Seriously...what the hell is wrong with prosecutors these days?

Posted by: Res ipsa | Jul 20, 2011 1:34:54 PM

Unfortunately, each of these decisions result in less respect for the criminal justice system. They also result in less support for law enforcement officers and prosecutors. Legislators do not escape judgement either. It seems ludicrous that these sex offenders should have a need for Executive Clemency. Perhaps mass clemency is in order.

Posted by: beth | Jul 20, 2011 2:20:31 PM

Borat Did the same to eminem on national tv.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 20, 2011 2:57:41 PM

Between incidents like this and the Brian Aitken case, it seems like prosecutorial discretion is dead in New Jersey.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 20, 2011 3:13:23 PM

it's CRIMINAL STUPIDITY like this that get's me all fired up about the criminal sex offender regime in this country!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 20, 2011 3:49:57 PM

SC --

Good for Borat. I can't stand eminem.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 20, 2011 3:57:26 PM

Maybe a re-reading of the definition of common sense is required by all involved in these cases and the law as written (i.e. defined as beliefs or propositions that most people consider prudent and of sound judgment, without reliance on esoteric knowledge or study or research, but based upon what they see as knowledge held by people "in common". Thus "common sense" (in this view) equates to the knowledge and experience which most people already have, or which the person using the term believes that they do or should have).

Posted by: james | Jul 20, 2011 4:26:12 PM

james --

As Res ipsa suggests, although too harshly, the only thing this case needed was a prosecutor with common sense, not a re-definition of common sense.

If an agent had come to me with this "case," I would have just asked him to come in and have a seat. I then would have said something like, "Were you ever 14? Take it easy, man. Your colleagues are making jokes about you behind your back. Take a little time off, relax, come back and bring me a meth dealer. Then we'll be in business. Thanks."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 20, 2011 4:49:20 PM

This "boys will be boys" attitude is appalling. This was not a harmless school yard prank. Would people be so cavalier if the victims were 12 year old girls? Absolutely not.

This does not justify lifetime registration, but this was not an insignificant offense.

Posted by: No | Jul 20, 2011 5:02:15 PM

"Boys will be boys" is indeed unacceptable when we're talking about adults or even older teenagers. But when we're talking about boys........

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 20, 2011 5:17:45 PM

Again, Bill, would you be so quick to give these 14 year-olds a pass (which is, it appears, your view) if their victims were 12 year-old girls? I doubt it. Did you read the opinion? There was physical contact, including penis on (though not clearly in) lips.

These 14 year-olds knew they were doing something very wrong. As I said above, it does not, in my view, justify life-long sex offender registration, but it certainly merited prosecution.

Posted by: No | Jul 20, 2011 5:24:36 PM

No --

If it were a different case, it would be a different case, no doubt about that.

"These 14 year-olds knew they were doing something very wrong."

It's quite likely they knew they were doing something wrong, yes, and would not have tried it if a cop were standing five feet away.

"As I said above, it does not, in my view, justify life-long sex offender registration, but it certainly merited prosecution."

It may well have merited police intervention. In my day and in my town, there would be no prosecution, however. The cops would have taken the boy home in the back of the cruiser, which is a scary experience for a 14 year-old. They would have described to his parents, in vivid detail, what he had been up to. They then would have said that they could take it up with the DA if that's what needed to happen.

After thus getting the kid and the parents suitably worried about what might be in the offing, the cops would have said that, this time, they preferred to let the parents impose discipline, but that if there were anything like a repeat episode, no one could say they hadn't been warned. And that would be that.

For adolescents of that age, and behavior like this, parents and culture are a better answer than cops and law.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 20, 2011 5:48:01 PM

bill: "If an agent had come to me with this "case," I would have just asked him to come in and have a seat. I then would have said something like, "Were you ever 14?""

bill again: ""Boys will be boys" is indeed unacceptable when we're talking about adults or even older teenagers. But when we're talking about boys........"

me: I have to agree with "no" - did you actually read what these defendants did? if you consider what was described in that opinion to be "normal" school yard behavior, I am glad that did have to share a playground with you because the opinion clearly shows that this was a vicious sexual assault by a group of teenaged boys against smaller, weaker children. One of the victims was noted to be gasping for breath after the defendants got off of him. Oh and perhaps you should tell one of the defendants that he was only engaging in innocent school yard play given that he gave the victims $10 to not report what he did. He tried to also stop the reporting by calling and texting the victim's older sister. Its pretty clear that the defendants knew what they did was wrong.

Yes a lifetime on the sex offender registery is a harsh penalty, but it is absolutely warranted in this case. We have defendants who think that humilating through sexual assault of people who are smaller and weaker then themselves is "funny" and then try to pay off the victims to be quiet - that is the very nature of predatory behavior that sexual assault laws are met to address - and if the 14 year old defendant knows that what he did was wrong enough to try to cover it up, he is absolutely guilty. Perhaps if they receive counseling and live a law abiding life for a period of time, they could be removed, but society should not have to coddle sexually preadatory behavior just because the perpertrator is a "boy." Maybe the defendants are just jerks and bullies, but mayhbe they are budding icky pervs or sadists. Society should not have to take the chance after such an appalling assault.

it may be unfair to single out bill for attention here, but he's been the most vocal about the "boys will be boys" thing. Its obviously unusal for me to be on the prosecution side and bill to be on the defense side, but I suspect that is because bill was never sexually assaulted in the schoolyard.

ginny :)

Posted by: virginia | Jul 20, 2011 6:15:27 PM

bill saving his best for after i started posting my last post: "In my day and in my town, there would be no prosecution" "For adolescents of that age, and behavior like this, parents and culture are a better answer than cops and law."

me: if people ever wonder why rape and sexual assault victims still do not always come forward, here is your answer. Prosecutors who are living in some mythical past where violent sexual assaults based entirely on power that the defendant tried to cover up by giving the victim money are just matters for the parents to handle because "boys will be boys." I sincerely hope that you merely have failed to read just how appalling the actions of the defendants were in this case and that you do not really believe that a 14 year old should have impunity to sexually assault younger children because it is "funny."

ginny :)

Posted by: virginia | Jul 20, 2011 6:29:40 PM

ginny --

You don't have to be either on the prosecution side or the defense side to understand that a LIFETIME as a registered sex offender for a 14 year-old, for an episode like this, is way overboard.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 20, 2011 6:32:53 PM

I am a member of RSOL and its Texas affiliate, Texas Voices, advocacy groups for the creation of sensible and effective sex offender legislation.

A lifetime on the sex offender registry because of schoolboy horseplay that, from all appearances, had no element of sexuality in it? This was a "kiss my butt," gesture, a this-is-the-worst-thing-I-can-think-of gesture, a I'm-trying-to-impress-my-friends gesture, not a sexual gesture. The boys were bullies; they deserve discipline, punishment, grounding, apologies to those they bullied, community service, a month of hard labor, whatever you can come up with. They do NOT deserve any application of Megan's Law or the sex offender registry. This cannot stand. This is obscene. The lives of two boys will be destroyed over something they did when they were 14. The punishment does not fit the crime.

Posted by: Shelomith Stow | Jul 20, 2011 8:33:11 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8wFuPPPL9g&feature=player_detailpage

Disgust alert. But not a crime.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 21, 2011 12:44:04 AM

Ginny: Do you have a remedy for false allegations by feminist lawyer entitled girls and women? All judges, including the running dogs of he feminist lawyer believe them automatically. I know they generate massive investigation costs for slow shuffling, government, lazy, sinecure sitting investigators, especially feminist, female investigators. However, the tax payer spends $thousands and gets nothing in return. No one may even verbally criticize these liars.

I propose a registry of feminist lawyers. No service or product provider may serve them. Shun them until they leave the country alone.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 21, 2011 12:51:08 AM

Have read the opinion, and totally agree that punishment for the boys is warranted, but the LIFE TIME label, and the harsh results that follow for youths found to be "offenders" (by whatever pretzel logic the court can find) is entirely too harsh. There is a grassroots effort by parents across the country to try and extract kids and even young adults from indiscretions such as sexting and consensual underage sex---to read more on the subject, google "the accidental sex offender marie claire" This horseplay, though quite offense, should not result in a lifetime sanction of this magnitude.

Posted by: folly | Jul 21, 2011 8:25:02 AM

This type of garbage was done in every shower after every gym class when I was growing up.

The problem is that we are teaching our children to be perpetual victims with no resiliency. I am almost certain that this incident dragging on for two years (with everyone in the community talking about it) is far more humiliating to the 12 year olds than the actual incident.

Back when I was a kid, the 14 year olds would have received a one week suspension and a whooping from dad. Of course "dad" is not seen as an important part of a family anymore, so today the whooping would have to be issued by the step-dad, the "baby's daddy" of the mother's other kids, the "partner", etc, if spanking is even allowed anymore in New Jersey.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 21, 2011 9:33:40 AM

TarlsQtr --

Excellent point. Although I'm for robust application of criminal law, I don't delude myself that law can replace family. Attempts to get it to do so will inevitably be blunderbuss, as they were in this case.

A 14 year-old is not an adult and is subject to impulsiveness and only partly formed self-discipline. It's just dense to think that law designed almost exclusively for older people -- usually much older -- should be applied in all its force to a person of that age.

The degrading of families and family life is a tragedy, and it will have consequences. Fathers who knew that discipline is part of love, and also part of teaching a child the lessons needed for success, are disappearing. The notion that they can be replaced by the "partner" or this week's live-in boyfriend, etc., is both false and poisonous.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 21, 2011 10:00:03 AM

Bill stated: "Although I'm for robust application of criminal law, I don't delude myself that law can replace family. Attempts to get it to do so will inevitably be blunderbuss, as they were in this case."

I agree and I do not believe that it undercuts conservative values, such as punishment fitting the crime, one bit. There is no more an ideal case of Federalism than a parent being allowed to discipline the children rather than the government, when appropriate.

I also could not agree with your last paragraph more. Spot on.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 21, 2011 10:19:49 AM

couldn't agree more with bill and tarlsqtr in this one. yea the kids are young and stupid. Last time i looked that was't grounds for lifetime punishment. Which is a pity considering the stupidity coming out of the 50 state govt's and washington lately!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 21, 2011 1:49:22 PM

Executive clemency (which is a matter of grace and not entitlement) should not be necessary here. The lifetime brand of "sex offender" is so disproportionate to the conduct -- at least when viewed in light of the extremely young age of the offenders -- that, whatever the statute says, the proportionality requirements of the cruel and unusual clause (and, arguably, substantive due process) have to provide an independent limit on the sentence. Moreover, to that extent, assuming those objections were raised, I don't agree with the praise of the court here for admirably "following the law," because the law includes the U.S. Constitution.

I agree this was serious conduct and shouldn't have been swept under the rug. Juvenile adjudication and monitoring -- perhaps even for some period after age 18 -- likely was appropriate. But a life-time brand is way too much, even under the generally deferential proportionality requirement of the 8th Amendment. This is Weems territory.

To go further, I'd say that *any* offense that is handled in the juvenile system is, a fortiori, disproportionate to a life-time sex-offender designation. After all, every State has provisions for transferring cases to adult court, usually even for very young offenders. If a case is not deemed by the Legislature/prosecutor to be serious enough to be moved to adult criminal court (where, incidentally, the defendant will be afforded the full panoply of procedural protections not available in the juvenile system), then it necessarily follows that it is not serious enough to result in a life-long condemnation to social leper-dom. (As an aside, in most States, life-long really means life-long. It usually is fantastically difficult, if not impossible, to get yourself removed from the sex-offender list, even after decades of blameless citizenship.)

These kids sound like dirt-bags and bullies now, but people can change and grow up. I'm amazed that ginny and others would defend a lifetime sex-offender designation here. I wonder if it was just an over-reaction to the trivialization of the underlying conduct. Ginny, do you really mean it? Without even, say, a hearing at age 21 to see if continuing the life term is necessary/appropriate? Their whole lives should really be defined, permanently, by this offense?

Posted by: Anon | Jul 21, 2011 2:11:49 PM

Bill I totally agree. Adolescent boys engage in pranks that are unfathonable, mindless, and disgusting. I raised three, and can barely understand their basic instincts. This should not be a matter for the criminal justice system. Families should be responsible for some remnant of remedial action

In my opinion, elevating this to the level of a criminal sex offense undermines the definition of sex crime. This does not pass the pass the test, and I must add - I resent every penny of tax money spent on this prosecution.

Posted by: beth | Jul 21, 2011 2:24:01 PM

Anon,

Except for the cruel and unusual punishment clause to be invoked the challenged conduct has to be punishment. And at least so far most courts have ruled that such registration is not punishment. (I would tend to think otherwise, certainly at the point such things have now reached, but *shrug*)

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 21, 2011 7:52:29 PM

What does the degradation or humiliation have to do with sex? Its mind-boggling what is considered to be a sexual offense in this country. Are we that that ignorant to want to start forcing kids to register as sex offenders for bullying? What's next... a poke in the arm? Gawking?

Boys will be boys - I know this because I was once a boy and I am the father of a boy that is one year younger. There is nothing new about what these two boys did - I saw it as a teen in the gym shower in middle school - its tomfoolery for Christ sake! The fact is this should have been handled by the parents and the school, not the justice system. Unfortunately most people could give a rats ass, unless of course it is their 14-year-old who is being forced to register as a sex offender.

Posted by: Huh? | Jul 21, 2011 8:17:52 PM

huh: "What does the degradation or humiliation have to do with sex?"

me: many people believe that most forceable sex offenses such as what is involved in this case are primarily motivated by power rather than sex. The law reflects that belief by making forceable sex offenses motivated by the desire to degrade and humilate punishable the same. Otherwise, defendants like these could completely escape punishment by claiming that they had no sexual motive. If you see sex crimes as being motivated by the desire to assert power over the victim, it makes perfect sense.

huh?: "I saw it as a teen in the gym shower in middle school"

me: really? Are you and TatsQtr really saying you saw boys rubbing their anuses and penises against another boy's mouths in the shower while the victim was being held them down and then had the perpetrator who rubbed the anus and penis against the other boy's face and mouth tried to stop the other boy from reporting it by giving him money? Where exactly did you go to middle school where THAT conduct was apparently tolerated and acceptable behavor? And does this claimed past practice of middle school shower room sodomy explain why so many right wingers are so hung up on homosexuality? What happened in this case was not tomfoolery, it was not a prank - it was a forceable sexual assault.

huh?: "The fact is this should have been handled by the parents and the school"

me: this event did not take place at a school! It took place outside of the school day at a convenience store and a public park. Had you actually read the opinion you'd know that. You'd also know that the court specifically rejected the notion that this was mere tomfoolery or sexual horseplay because New Jersey courts have created an exception to the sex offense for acts t hat were mere horseplay - for example, a prior case where a 14 year old boy slapped a 14 year old girl on the buttocks once was found to not be punishable as a sex offense - it was still punishable as an assault. The conduct here went beyond horseplay - horseplay was the defendants claim and the courts rejected it.

beth: "In my opinion, elevating this to the level of a criminal sex offense undermines the definition of sex crime."

me: did you actually read the opinion and see what these sweet innocent boys actually did? If you do not consider this to be a criminal sex offense - especially in light of the one defendant's attempts to cover up the crime - what would be a criminal sex offense? These defendants while other boys were holding down the victims forceable touched their sexual organs including one boy's penis against another boy's mouth and face. They admitted the motivation to the crime was to degrade and humilate the other boys which is specifically listed in the law. They admitted paying the victims $10 and calling one of the victim's older sister in an attempt to cover up the crime. This conduct is exactly what the law makes illegal and it is absolutely not ambiguous in any way. You and the other apologists for these boys - none of which appears to have actually bothered to read the case - are the ones making a mockery of the sex crimes laws. If you let these boys off because they only had the intent to humilate their victim you are ignoring the plain language of the statute and you'd have to let any perp off simply because they claim to not have had sexual intent. Don't let the claim of "horseplay" fool you - the defendants were making a claim based on a defense recognized in New Jersey which the court specifically rejected.

anon: "Ginny, do you really mean it?"

me: yes - these defendants committed a forceable sex offense against smaller, weaker children and then tried to cover up their crime by paying them off. If the defendants thought this was just innocent "horseplay" why did they give the victims $10 to not tell anyone? The defendants knew what they did was illegal and their actions were violent and demonstrate predatory behavior. That is the exact type of offense which the sex offender registry was intended to address and the law was intended to address. If these defenders do not get listed as sex offenders, no one should be listed as sex offenders! I am in favor of limiting the sex offender registry to only offenders who commit violent sexual offenses and adult offenders who target children but these offenders commited a violent sexual offense. Now, I have no problem with a later review - but with sexually violent offenses committed by a teenager I believe that society should not have to take the chance that these kids are budding sexual sadists or icky pervs.

bill: "A 14 year-old is not an adult and is subject to impulsiveness and only partly formed self-discipline. It's just dense to think that law designed almost exclusively for older people -- usually much older -- should be applied in all its force to a person of that age."

me: While I generally agree with this statement, I fear that you are making the right argument for the wrong defendants. This argument is stronger for consensual sex offenses involving teenagers. It is weakest in the case of a forceable sex offense which the defendants tried to pay off the victim which is sexually predatory behavior. The proper way to address those concerns with these defendants are by having a later review of the sex offender conditions if it turns out that these are not budding sexual sadists and were just stupid kids with a twisted idea of what is funny - its not to place society at risk by ignoring their sexually predatory conduct because of their age.

folly: "There is a grassroots effort by parents across the country to try and extract kids and even young adults from indiscretions such as sexting and consensual underage sex"

me: I totally agree with exempting kids and young adults from sex offender registration and prosecution for consensual sex offenses. This case has nothing to do with consensual activity - it was a forceable sex offense. I do not support exempting teenagers from registry for forceable sex offenses. To conflate these defendant's actions with teenagers having consensual sex is beyond offensive. A sexual assault committed by a teenager is just as damaging to the victim and society as one committed by adults. Society therefore has an interest in assuring that the punishment is the same. And if there is any interest in a sex offender registry at all - and I'm skeptical - the interest is the same. Yes, remove the consensual offenders from the registry, but keep these boys on it. I'll say it again, if these boys shouldn't be on the registry, then no one should be on the registry. If you say that the registry should not totally exist, fine. I disagree, but its a supportable position. SAying these boys should be exempt - or worse saying they should be exempt from all punishment - when all their entire defense really amounts to claiming "yes, we committed a forced sex act against these boys and tried to cover it up by paying them, but we aren't gay" isn't a supportable position.

ginny :)

Posted by: virginia | Jul 22, 2011 8:10:11 AM

ginny --

While I disagree with you, I want to thank you for exemplifying what this site is at its best -- argument based on analysis, not ad hominem snarking. The site could use more comments in the mold of the one you just put up.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 22, 2011 11:02:40 AM

OUCH i'm going to have to agree with bill i know i did not read the opinion just the blurb at teh top. but based on what ginny states i have to agree these two need some major therapy and watching for a while. I still think lifetime registation is over the top but till 18 or released by a certified sex offence psych would be verry appropriate.

my only big problem with the sex crime conviciton is the continual retroactive conditions that are being added EVERY YEAR.

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 22, 2011 3:32:10 PM

rodsmith --

"OUCH i'm going to have to agree with bill..."

Be of good cheer, rodsmith. The great thing about agreeing with me is that, in the words of the song, it only hurts for a little while.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 22, 2011 4:14:07 PM

Rod,

And in this case there aren't even the retroactivity issues, since as far as I know all of the relevant legislation predates the crime and certainly the court proceedings.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 22, 2011 4:37:43 PM

LOL bill the ouch wasn't for having to agree with you. we agree a lot. but for myself for letting ginny getting me on NOT reading the actual decison.

the problem as you will know soronel isn't old retroactivity issues it's the NEW ones that come every year when each local, county, state and even federal govt come up with their YEARLY new ways to go back and violate the U.S. Constution as it applies to anyone convicted of a sex crime. Which are then applied to everyone!

just look at AWA which is has mandated juvie's be listed publicly! most states are still stuck on that one! Even thoough finaly the fed's have said you dont' have to list them if you don't want to. BUT that doens't mean ONCE they sucker the state into passing AWA ...THEN next year saying oh wait WE CHANGED OUR MINDS! you now have to list them!

once these boys were conviced under age or not. their lives are now OVER might as well find a politician who voted for the laws that have legally KILLED THEM and go out with a BANG along with said politician!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 23, 2011 12:03:09 AM

@ Ginny

"many people believe that most forceable sex offenses such as what is involved in this case are primarily motivated by power rather than sex. The law reflects that belief by making forceable sex offenses motivated by the desire to degrade and humilate punishable the same. Otherwise, defendants like these could completely escape punishment by claiming that they had no sexual motive. If you see sex crimes as being motivated by the desire to assert power over the victim, it makes perfect sense."

You get on the rape and force-able sex trip and plainly have an inability to think impartially. I am arguing the necessity to make every act sexual - not everything is. I don't condone the puerile behavior of a couple of bully’s, but I don't see SEX in their behavior either. Its clear that James is an asshole and seemingly has gotten away with bullying far too long - but that is a completely different issue. There are plenty of other offenses those boys could have been charged with [and I don't think they should have been] that would have better fit the act, and would not have required lifetime sexual offender registration.

"really? Are you and TatsQtr really saying you saw boys rubbing their anuses and penises against another boy's mouths in the shower while the victim was being held them down and then had the perpetrator who rubbed the anus and penis against the other boy's face and mouth tried to stop the other boy from reporting it by giving him money? Where exactly did you go to middle school where THAT conduct was apparently tolerated and acceptable behavor?”

"W.R." clearly was not sure if James' junk touched his lips, let alone if it was the outside or the inside of his lips. Maybe he and his buddy made it up? And using the fact that James tried to get W.R. to clam up as another reason why it was a sexual offense is laughable. James is a bully! Naturally he does not want some kids father knocking on his door while he is sitting down to dinner with his family.

“And does this claimed past practice of middle school shower room sodomy explain why so many right wingers are so hung up on homosexuality? What happened in this case was not tomfoolery, it was not a prank - it was a forceable sexual assault."

Sodomy? You clearly have no idea do you? Are you in need of some mental hygiene? Where did sodomy come into this? I know sodomy was not mentioned in the courts opinion, nor did I mention anything about boys having anal sex in my middle school shower room. Whether or not the actors in my middle school got away with sitting on the faces of other boys bare assed is not germane here either. The point that you manifestly can not see through your 'everything is rape and sodomy' complex is that nobody seems to know what sex IS any more.

"this event did not take place at a school! It took place outside of the school day at a convenience store and a public park. Had you actually read the opinion you'd know that. You'd also know that the court specifically rejected the notion that this was mere tomfoolery or sexual horseplay because New Jersey courts have created an exception to the sex offense for acts t hat were mere horseplay - for example, a prior case where a 14 year old boy slapped a 14 year old girl on the buttocks once was found to not be punishable as a sex offense - it was still punishable as an assault. The conduct here went beyond horseplay - horseplay was the defendants claim and the courts rejected it.

In school, out of school - apple, orange. Maybe you are a prude. Perhaps the New Jersey justice system is full of them also. What New Jersey considers an exemption, another state will not.

Case in point.

1. When I first moved to NC I remember my brother telling me that a friend of his had to register as a sex offender. His crime? Snapping his step-daughters bra. Step-daughters mother and others where in the room - everyone had a good laugh. Apparently, his step-daughter did not like him, and out of embarrassment made a complaint.

2. About 4-5 years ago I read an opinion of a case in SC where a guy had moved to SC from another state - can't remember where - and was arrested for failure to register as a sex offender. His argument was that, in the state he lived in previously he was not required to register as a sex offender. His crime? Slapping a woman on the ass. He is a lifetime sex offender as far as SC is concerned.

The sexual offense reasoning in this case, and your mind blowing, nit-Picking is guff. Based on your unmistakable issue with sex, I bet that if my ass unintentionally rubbed against yours while getting off a crowed bus, you would most assuredly have me in court for some sexual offense.

The point here is the ideology of self-serving politicians and the overblown fears of a naif and sexually overstrung society. We are all discussing the issue because the Federal government passed a law, that it first said would be unconstitutional, which allowed each state to pass laws that forced people to do something that seems is no longer passing muster with many state supreme courts. Prior to 1996, would this case ever have made it to a court room? Slim chance. The only reason it did is because of the sex offender registration laws.

Posted by: Huh? | Jul 23, 2011 3:28:47 PM

you hit it right on the head Huh?!

but what's so funny about it is now the general public and regular crooks are starting to scream becasue now those excemptions are now being applied to OTHER crimes!

and of course when someone says something

they get the

"it was legal when applied to sex crimes" so it must be legal for others!


kind of like paying a loan shark's illega loan by robbing the local bank!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 23, 2011 3:41:05 PM

I think its about time that we call it what it is, no matter the crime. Fact is, regardless of how many Ginny's try to say different, SEX and SEXUAL are not the same thing - especially in this case. I could give a rats ass what the courts have determined something to be - does not mean they are right.

Read this as it makes my point:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/AsSeenOnGMA/story?id=4585388

Posted by: Huh? | Jul 23, 2011 4:56:26 PM

Also see the related stories.

"Could Your Child Be a Sexual Harasser?" - http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=4588385

and

"Sexual Abuse or Kids' Horseplay?" - http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=1591633

Posted by: Huh? | Jul 23, 2011 5:04:55 PM

Oh my God. This is NOT normal 14 year old behavior! What is wrong with everyone? Does anyone realize that these boys also forced their PENISES in the mouths of teh 12 year olds?! (do your research - it's in the transcript of the appellate court decision.) The little deviants absolutely deserve to be on the sex offender list. Saves time now for when they become adult rapists.

Posted by: Concerned Citizen | Aug 6, 2011 8:24:38 PM

@ Concerned Citizen

If you were at all concerned, you would have read the decision again, and again. As I stated previously, "W.R." clearly was NOT SURE if James' junk touched his lips, let alone if it was the outside or the inside of his lips.

I think society needs to be concerned about "Concerned Citizens" like you. Don't read into things...

Posted by: Huh? | Aug 16, 2011 10:12:16 PM

I have been a law enforcement officer for over thirty years, I have investigated and filed charges against dozens of people for rape and lesser sexual assaults. To compare this ridiculous incident to any sexual crime makes a mockery of justice, and belittles the suffering of true victim’s of sexual crimes. To those people who live where this has happened, you need to vote out of office, or impeach every elected official who helped this go forward, and everyone who turned their head and looked the other way because these people do not represent or up hold what is best for our society or our children, and they have no common sense or understanding of right and wrong. To Ginny, you must be the most unintelligent worthless bitch of your generation, hell with your level of ignorance and lack of common sense you should be a Judge. Obviously you are not a parent, or you are the worst excuse for one I’ve seen in a long while because children, teenage boys, do stuff that’s almost as stupid as the mess that you’ve written here, and that’s the lamest, silliest, most inexperienced bunch of crap about how to treat children that I’ve ever read. I raised three Sons, and have four grandsons, and these boys’ do need to be punished, so they can learn a lesson from this incident. Their parents should ground them, take privileges or property from them, or spank them, or a mixture of all three. They should also be placed on juvenile probation until they are eighteen years old, during which they can be given the chance to learn from their mistakes, and grow through counseling. There should be consequences as well, like working several hundred hours’ worth of community service, but regardless of how wrong they were, their lives should not be destroyed forever.

Posted by: AngeryCop | Jun 29, 2013 1:40:53 PM

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