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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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61 Responses

  1. mightydoll
    mightydoll June 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm |

    oh that poor little girl! :(

    I’m concerned about the charge of “concealing the death of a child”. How far along was she? Charges of concealing the death of a child suggest that a fetus is a child, and fsck stuff up further!

  2. Faith
    Faith June 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm |

    “I don’t believe that sex between a 30-year-old and a 13-year-old can ever be consensual; we also know that many extreme age-disparate relationships involve rape.”

    Not many extreme age-disparate relationships. If a 30-year-old man sticks his penis in a 13-year-old girl, he is committing an act of rape. It is impossible for it to be anything else.

  3. Clarissa
    Clarissa June 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm |

    This story is heart-breaking. This poor child has been violated in the most egregious way. Imagine the horror of finding yourself pregnant and with no access to abortion services as a result of such horrific abuse. How can we call ourselves a civilized society if we allow such things to happen?

  4. Jackie
    Jackie June 7, 2010 at 5:24 pm |

    Mission Accomplished. I’m sure the anti-women crowd is celebrating. This is only going to continue as the Democratic Party pays only lip service to women’s rights groups and the Republican Party continues in its success of chipping away at Roe.

  5. Lance
    Lance June 7, 2010 at 5:38 pm |

    Sickening. Disturbing implications in this line: “The girl believed he was the father, according to police.” If she’s not sure, then that means there’s at least one other rapist out there. I sincerely hope the police are looking for him/them. I generally think child neglect statutes are overused as weapons against poor parents, but I’m hard-pressed to understand how this could have gone on for over a year– with a pregnancy– without her parents or guardians either endorsing it, being aware of it or acting so negligently that they have no business raising a child. Criminal prosecution of them seems highly justified based on what we know now.

  6. El Perro
    El Perro June 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm |

    Now this kid is one of us, a woman, destined to spend her life weighed down by guilt, shame and blame based entirely on her genital configuration.

    Welcome to our world young woman, I only wish you’d had time to be a child first.

  7. Lasciel
    Lasciel June 7, 2010 at 6:11 pm |

    “I don’t believe that sex between a 30-year-old and a 13-year-old can ever be consensual;”

    That’s nice that you believe that, but I don’t see any evidence backing it up. Sure, regardless of consent or not it’s counted as rape in the United States.

    Because teens are morons and can’t make their own decisions about their sex lives and bodies? Wow, I really expected to find that in a feminist blog.

  8. Ami
    Ami June 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm |

    @mightdoll I’m curious about this as well. It sounds like the charges come from the fact that her actions caused labor/contractions to begin and she “delivered” but the question still remains at what stage of development the fetus was.

  9. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 7, 2010 at 6:34 pm |

    Disturbing implications in this line: “The girl believed he was the father, according to police.”

    That could just be an “innocent until proven guilty” thing… until paternity is established they can’t really say he is the father. *crosses fingers that’s all it is*

  10. Lasciel
    Lasciel June 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm |

    @Lance-apparently the boyfriend has already been apprehended and arrested.

  11. Lasciel
    Lasciel June 7, 2010 at 6:47 pm |

    Also, if the other guy is under 18, and it was consensual, they’re not searching for another rapist. They’re searching for her boyfriend.

    I’m dubious that there’s a any other man at all. There is nothing to suggest that, other than a snerky little “believed to be the father” in there, probably to cast her as an evil baby-killer who loves to sleep around with older men.

  12. Andrea J.
    Andrea J. June 7, 2010 at 7:17 pm |

    The charges surrounding the fetus worry me as well. Shouldn’t the police be focusing on the fact that this thirty-year-old man was raping a child, rather than on the fact that she terminated her pregnancy, however unsafely, and however late?

  13. Jay
    Jay June 7, 2010 at 7:23 pm |

    Tragic.

    For my own emotional health, I usually avoid the comments section on news stories, especially when they involve reproductive rights or other feminist-related issues; but the first comment on the story is just infuriating – it’s some dude blubbering about how making abortions safer and easier to access would just be making it ‘easier to murder’ the innocent fetuses.

    Yep, that’s right – after reading the story, the first innocent child he thought about was a fetus that was probably about as sentient as a tomato; not the living, feeling 13-year-old child who was raped, scared to death, and hospitalized.

  14. La Lubu
    La Lubu June 7, 2010 at 7:55 pm |

    You know what else makes me sick? That there’s only a $50,000 bail bond on this worthless piece of shit rapist.

  15. Faith
    Faith June 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm |

    “I generally think child neglect statutes are overused as weapons against poor parents, but I’m hard-pressed to understand how this could have gone on for over a year– with a pregnancy– without her parents or guardians either endorsing it, being aware of it or acting so negligently that they have no business raising a child.”

    Lance,

    I’m guessing you don’t know many young teenagers. Teens can be quite crafty and inventive when it comes to hiding relationships and all other sorts of activities that their parents do not approve of. I was hiding sexual relationships from my parents at the age of 13 and did so throughout most of my teen years. The same goes for several of my friends at the time. My parents, at least, were quite far from being neglectful.

    While it is possible that the parents were aware or just not doing their job, my guess is that the 30-year-old rapist is the only one to blame in this situation.

  16. orgostrich
    orgostrich June 7, 2010 at 8:18 pm |

    Look at this article, specifically the quote from Bryan Kemper:
    http://www.lifenews.com/state5163.html

    Does he really believe we (pro choice people) wouldn’t care about this had she used safe methods? Her lack of access to safe care made the situation worse, but it was so incredibly terrible to begin with…

  17. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig June 7, 2010 at 8:26 pm |

    Sick. I hope something really really unpleasant happens to the man. Also, furthur proof that law enforcement officers have their heads up their asses.

  18. eilish
    eilish June 7, 2010 at 8:41 pm |

    Unwanted pregnancy resulting from a consensual relationship can be an isolating and fear-inducing experience for an adult woman.
    Imagine what that little girl experienced. We don’t have a system that works for adult women who are raped: damn sure we don’t have one for children.
    This is what we get when we make abortion shameful and difficult to access.
    We also really need the media to start using the words rape and assailant when reporting tragedies like this.

  19. E
    E June 7, 2010 at 8:41 pm |

    That poor girl. I can’t even imagine how painful that must have been. At least it didn’t take place in Utah. This is exactly the kind of behavior that they just criminalized a few months ago.

  20. bleh
    bleh June 7, 2010 at 9:08 pm |

    This is so sad.

  21. Miki
    Miki June 7, 2010 at 9:09 pm |

    This is so sad.

  22. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe June 7, 2010 at 9:10 pm |

    mightydoll: That “concealing the death of a child” stuff might just be something the cops and prosecutors are hammering this guy with to get him to plead out. Cynical and nasty, yes, but criminal law ain’t beanbag.

    I just hope the system deals gently with that poor kid.

  23. Jennifer
    Jennifer June 7, 2010 at 9:13 pm |

    @Lasciel, yeah, I took that to be a dig at the girls supposed ‘sluttiness’, too; an implication that she somehow deserved this, and could have brought it on herself by sleeping around with much-older men.

    @Lance, I understand the concern you’re expressing in regards to her family, but the truth is, until we know more information, positioning them as probably guilty isn’t necessarily fair. For all we know, they’re innocent.

    In general, I echo the horror everyone else expressed, particularly the part where they seem to care more about charging the man for ‘concealing the death’ of a fetus than the part where he raped a 13-year-old girl for ~a year.

  24. Athenia
    Athenia June 7, 2010 at 9:58 pm |

    From the article, it sounds like she must have been quite far along! Surely a social worker could have step in before this happened????

  25. Jackie
    Jackie June 7, 2010 at 10:40 pm |

    This is even worse than the abortion scene from the Home episode of X-Files. I won’t go into details, because it’s very graphic, people who have seen it will know what I mean though. I mean it was so graphic, it was included as an extra on the X-Files DVD of the episode, not shown in the TV version.

  26. Jenn
    Jenn June 7, 2010 at 11:50 pm |

    re: “concealing the death of a child”. From the news story, it’s unclear how far along the pregnancy was and whether or not she could have delivered a live infant. She used the term “abortion” but it really sounds like she ended up inducing labor and giving birth to the baby (possibly living, possibly not, probably won’t know until the autospy), and then the ‘boyfriend’ disposed of the body.

  27. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 8, 2010 at 12:39 am |

    Wow, I really expected to find that in a feminist blog.

    So the idea that adult men fucking young girls (and clearly doing it without protection, lovely) is rape is not something you expected to find on a feminist blog? It’s not a novel concept, nor particularly controversial (except with Mr. Who-doesn’t-want-to-fuck-13-year-old-girls Polanski.)

    No one said or implied this girl is stupid. As a child she is very vulnerable to being taken advantage of, and she was. By both her “boyfriend” the 30-year-old rapist and, apparently, the legal system. That’s a bad thing. Simple concept.

  28. Lasciel
    Lasciel June 8, 2010 at 12:45 am |

    Faith, I’m curious, and don’t answer if it seems like prying. But you said you had relationships at 13 and then went on to lay all of the blame on the boyfriend. Did you feel taken advantage of and like all the responsibility lay on your boyfriends?

    @Jill, I am aware of the psychological development stages. However, people and children develop and mature at different rates. And when it comes to life experience, some 13-year olds will have more knowledge and clarity to fall back on when making judgements than a lot of 18-year olds.

    It’s ridiculous to hold every 13-year old (and anyone of any other age) by the exact same standard. It just doesn’t work that way. The actual number means nothing. Consent law in my state is 17-but it’s 18 in others. Does that mean some states are letting “children” be raped by allowing them to consent to sex?

    By judging a teen by everyone else her age you label her as more immature and inexperienced than she is by default; I just find that incredibly insulting. And you deny her choices that she may be entirely ready to make.

    I’m not denying this guy could be a rapist; but this is a pretty sketchy and information-bare case, if that article is all we have to go on. You can make inferences from a lot of the things, but there’s just not enough to know.

    For instance, the fact that he didn’t help her get an abortion is suspicious. Without knowing how far along she was though, it could be she didn’t realize she was pregnant until it was too late to obtain one. Or it could even be a case of financial hardship. We just don’t know.

  29. james
    james June 8, 2010 at 12:55 am |

    I don’t know. You consent to something if you understand a proposition and freely make a choice. If you say someone can’t consent, you’re making a factual claim about their cognitive abilities. If you’re wrong, and I think you are wrong if you make a sweeping claim that no minors have that level of intellectual ability, I can see why some people would find it offensive.

    It perfectly true there are good public policy reasons why we should protect minors from predators, and why this guy should be in jail. No-one’s arguing about that. But you don’t have to question people’s intellectual ability to get there.

  30. Sarah
    Sarah June 8, 2010 at 1:20 am |

    This is really depressing.

    The said thing about pro-life activists is that often, while they maintain that they care about the mother, really leave few options open for them because of their belief in living without the assistance for social programs. We all know that this is a common belief of the right (and they are proud of it.) So these girls are told not to have abortions, and they are also expected to live without the assistance of social programs that would help them with maintaining maternal health. Girls and women can’t win like that.

    :(

    Sarah
    donotyield.blogspot.com

  31. mamaspeak
    mamaspeak June 8, 2010 at 2:25 am |

    I think first and formost we need to remember that this is a child. She may have been “acting” grown up and participating in grown up activities (by choice or not) but she is still a CHILD.

    When I read the quote related to the her (the 13yo) saying she “guessed” he (the 30yo) was the father, my thoughts were along the lines that she wasn’t entirely clear HOW she got pregnant. NOT, that she was “sleeping around”.
    I’m going to make a guess here that this child was still a child in many respects (legally for starters) and was not completely clear, if informed at all, about how babies are made. Or, considering her age, maybe she had never gotten her period and wasn’t really clear how she could be pregnant based on that. That would be confusing to most informed 13yo girls. So now, let’s all discuss how great it is to eliminate sex ed from school too. If you consider the two subjects I just brought into the discussion it really gets things going. (C’mon you know you want to take on the “abstinence instead of sex ed.” discussion)

    Another note; in regard to the comments about her “sleeping around”. She was 13!!! If she was making an effort to engage in sexual relations it was most likely to seek approval & acceptance, not because she was a sex hungry nympho. Be real people. I look back at decisions I was making at age 20 & shutter, I can’t imagine being 13 & having to deal with the levity of her situation. She’s a KID.

  32. William
    William June 8, 2010 at 3:59 am |

    That’s nice that you believe that, but I don’t see any evidence backing it up. Sure, regardless of consent or not it’s counted as rape in the United States.

    Because teens are morons and can’t make their own decisions about their sex lives and bodies? Wow, I really expected to find that in a feminist blog.

    I’m sympathetic to the argument, but the reason sex between a 13 year and a 30 year old cannot be consensual isn’t just about maturity. Sure, thats a part of it but I think there are very good arguments against limiting the liberty of people based upon their ages (although in a case like this the limit isn’t on the child but on the adult). Thats a very useful discussion to have, but this isn’t the play for it because age isn’t really at issue here.

    The thing is, this isn’t just about age and judgment but about power, predation, and experience. There is such a significant difference in power between a 30 year old and a 13 year old that such a relationship is either inherently abusive or so incredibly likely to be so that the possibility needs to be foreclosed. Some sexual relationships are simply too problematic to be tolerated. A 13 year old doesn’t have much experience when it comes to romance, they haven’t had time to learn how to play the game of human sexual relationships. If it helps you can imagine why a game between a great high school varsity football team and a terrible NFL team would be a bad idea. The high school team is going to get knocked around, out maneuvered, out played, and will likely end up hurt. That doesn’t make them a bad team or make the players weak or stupid, all it means is that they were put in a situation way over their heads.

    I’m a psychotherapist and all of my patients are adults. Several of them have been sexually attracted to me and over the course of my career it is almost certain that many more will develop similar feelings (its pretty common). Though it hasn’t happened yet, theres a good chance I’ll eventually have a patient I’m sexually attracted to. We’ll both be adults, we’ll both have feelings, and if I try to act on them I should not only lose my license but go to prison for rape. Why? Because having sex in a relationship with that steep a difference in power is like playing poker with one player’s hand face up. There are too many opportunities for abuse. Thats the same reason a boss can’t hit on a subordinate and a teacher can’t hit on a student. The difference in power and influence makes the relationship inherently predatory because it cannot be a relationship between equals.

  33. Astrid
    Astrid June 8, 2010 at 4:44 am |

    @ Lascien (#8): as Jill says, recognizing different levels of psychosocial development, does not mean seeing teens as incapable of making their own decisions about their bodies. In fact, this whole story is about a teen who desparately tried to have autonomy over her own body. As a side note, please don’t use the word “moron”. That is ableist and degrading to people with intellectual disabilities.

  34. Corbin
    Corbin June 8, 2010 at 8:01 am |

    I hate this. I hate that it happens. I hate the way some people respond to it (“Oh, the little slut isn’t even sure he’s the father….”). I hate that she couldn’t go to a clinic and be treated appropriatly. I hate that anyone would expect her to suffer. I hate that this is the world I have to send my daughter out into.

  35. Sarah Morehous
    Sarah Morehous June 8, 2010 at 8:36 am |

    Lasciel said: Sure, regardless of consent or not it’s counted as rape in the United States. Because teens are morons and can’t make their own decisions about their sex lives and bodies? Wow, I really expected to find that in a feminist blog.

    There’s no way a 13 year old girl having sex with a 30 year old man is the same as having sex with a boy from her age group. A 30 year old has a lot of power and influence that a fellow teen doesn’t. Saying no to an adult is a lot more complicated and may well be futile or impossible. The possibility of consent is corrupted, just as it would be if your boss dangled a pink slip in front of your face and “suggested” a quickie in the mail room.

    A 13 year old from our society has aspects of adulthood, but is still mostly child. If they have reached an adult level of responsibility and stoicism, it tends to be because of extreme hardship and tragedy, and there are negative side effects that make such precocity hard to romanticize. And they simply don’t have the clout to say no and enforce it. “What are you going to do? Tell a grownup?” Between blackmail, bribery, shame, and twisting the kid’s desire for autonomy, and taking advantage of any horniness and/or a crush, an adult can get whatever they want.

    There’s a difference between having some fun with people your own age and finding yourself in a position to say yes or no to a person who has all the power that you don’t.

  36. Jill Stanek's Pro-Life & Abortion News and Information

    The pediophile and the pencil abortion – which is our fault…

    Horrible. From the Pocono Record, June 8: A 30-year-old Polk Township man is accused of raping a teen and burying the girl’s fetus after she performed a home abortion on herself, police said. Michael James Lisk told police that he……

  37. Anti-Choicers Think Botched Abortions Are Awesome « Radical Bookworm

    [...] about this story is absolutely horrifying. As Jill at Feministe points out, it is an awful reminder of just how far we still have to go before abortion is really safe and [...]

  38. Faith
    Faith June 8, 2010 at 10:04 am |

    “But you said you had relationships at 13 and then went on to lay all of the blame on the boyfriend. Did you feel taken advantage of and like all the responsibility lay on your boyfriends?”

    I had relationships with other teenagers for the most part which is tremendously different from having sex with a 30-year-old man, which, as I’ve already pointed out, can be nothing other than rape due to the 13-year-old’s inability to give -informed- consent.

    I was preyed upon by one older man at that age. While at the time I would have told you it was consensual, I know full well now that it was not. It was predatory because I was not old enough to understand or even begin to understand why a 24-year-old man would want to have sex with a 13-year-old girl. It was also predatory because there was no way that I could have conceivably defended myself against this man in any regard due to the power imbalance. BTW, this same 24-year-old man eventually went on to attempt to prey on my niece who was 14 at the time. He was around 38 at that point. Sensing a pattern here?

    13-year-old teenagers are children. While I fully support their right to explore their own bodies with teens their own age if that is their choice, arguing that a 13-year-old girl can give meaningful consent to sex with a 30-year-old is naive at best, extremely dangerous or even potentially predatory depending on a person’s intentions at worst.

  39. Claudia
    Claudia June 8, 2010 at 10:39 am |

    My heart goes out to this girl. She has a long road ahead of her.

    William, that was a really excellent explanation. Thank you.

  40. anodyne lite
    anodyne lite June 8, 2010 at 10:46 am |

    Of course a 13-year-old could consent to sex with a 30-year-old. But that’s not the issue in stat rape cases. Yes, the laws concerning stat rape are often sexist in their application (they tend to be paternalistic and can be misused/abused by angry parents)- I’ve heard of cases where a 15-year-old girl has sex with her 18-year-old boyfriend and her parents find out and press charges. Etc. Etc. (Cue men’s rights activist rant…)

    Although it should be clear why the situation in the OP is problematic, I can see why some people just don’t get it. And by some people, I mean mostly men. Teenage girls are just as hormonal as teenage boys, but at that age, the maturity gap is huge. I remember being repulsed by most of the boys in my high school, because they acted so young and foolish. I can understand why a 13-year-old girl would feel attracted to a much older man (I was mostly attracted to older men at that age) but I also know that the asymmetry in expectation and experience can only end in serious dysfunction. Consent alone doesn’t mean much when it’s not fully informed. (Or in this case, even negligibly informed.)

    How can someone who’s had sex before and appreciates how it complicates life, who has a job and responsibilities, possibly have anything in common with a 13-year-old? Someone young enough that they most likely have no clue yet that people lie to get sex, that not all sexual attraction is love, who knows basically nothing about life… What kind of healthy adult would even want to go there with someone so naive?

    The only reason a 30-year-old could possibly be interested in such an emotionally lopsided relationship is because s/he has some sort of predatory kink or fetish for innocents. Which is exactly why they shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near them. Hebephilia is generally less frowned upon socially than pedophilia, but I can’t imagine that a healthy person would have trouble navigating the gray areas around sex with teens.

  41. matlun
    matlun June 8, 2010 at 11:07 am |

    The age of consent discussion is an interesting one.

    Just saying it is always rape is clearly an exaggeration, since some teens are fully capable of making informed judgments about their sexual choices.

    From a legal perspective we want to protect children from sexual predators and so we have to find some way to outlaw this type of behavior. Some objective criteria are needed, and the law typically just uses simple age. From a moral perspective a law like this will by necessity sometimes have unjust effects, but no one has come up with a better alternative AFAIK. (Obviously we can argue about exactly which age should be set as the limit, exceptions for cases where the age difference is small, etc, etc…)

    I agree that in this case we (at least I) do not have enough information to say with certainty what the situation is, but when we are talking about a 13 year old and a 30 year old, I would say the probability of this being an “acceptable” (ie reflecting “true” consent) relationship is very, very small.

  42. Lasciel
    Lasciel June 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm |

    @Astrid-and people try to control the sex lives of mentally disabled people, there are issues with their consent, and there have been times in history when they were forcibly sterilized to keep them from reproducing. I am well aware of the implications of the word.

  43. William
    William June 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm |

    and people try to control the sex lives of mentally disabled people, there are issues with their consent, and there have been times in history when they were forcibly sterilized to keep them from reproducing. I am well aware of the implications of the word.

    I’ll avoid a derail belaboring the use of “mentally disabled” here and the fact that you seem to immediately associate mental disabilities (a term with baggage all it’s own) with developmental delay, but I’d really like to ask you to think about the kinds of power and privilege you’re playing with using those kinds of words as epithets.

    That said, there is a lot of similarity between the situation of consent which surrounds persons who have been deemed incompetent by the state and children. There are a lot of problems with how we restrict the liberty of persons who are perceived to be in need of help and that is a valuable critique to pursue. I’ve devoted a significant amount of my research to doing just that (not just in terms of legal responsibility but right down to social interaction). Still, I think you’re missing the point.

    Should a 13 year old be allowed to have sex? I’d be a little uncomfortable with the idea but, ultimately, it isn’t my body and it isn’t my place to make a judgment. Adolescence is fluid, maturity is often just a euphemism “sufficiently inculcated into societal and cultural norms,” and I know how aggressively society attempts to control the lives of the young for reasons that have nothing to do with the well being of restrict persons. Most days I’ll look at any exercise of authority and suspect a repugnant authoritarianism lies just beneath the surface.

    Still, thats not really what we’re talking about here. A 13 year old should certainly be allowed to do what they please with their body. That doesn’t mean that others have free reign to take advantage of that exploration and use it for their own needs and satisfaction. The limitation that society places should not be on the 13 year old but on the 30 year old. The 13 year old is allowed to choose their sexual partners, but only those partners who are not likely to be intrinsically predatory and exploitive are allowed to make themselves sexually available.

  44. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac June 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm |

    Not offtopic, but with regard to another case of child abuse:

    In 1997, a 15-year-old girl became pregnant after being raped repeatedly by Ernest Willis, an older man she knew from the Trinity Baptist Church in Concord her family and the Willis family both attended. The girl told her mother after she was made pregnant: the mother told their pastor, Chuck Phelps.

    Phelps had the rape victim go up for “church discipline” because, he told her, Willis may have been 99 percent responsible, but she needed to confess her 1 percent guilt in the situation, and that she should be happy that she didn’t live in Old Testament times because she would have been stoned. A witness from 1997 remembers “I can still see the little girl standing up there with this smile on her face trying to get through this.” The next day the witness, Fran Earle, called Mrs Phelps, who said the victim had decided not to press charges for statutory rape. Earle, who left the church in 2001, said it was “regular” to see young girls who were pregnant called to the front of the congregation to be humiliated in this way.

    Statutory rape has a statute of limitations of 22 years from when the victim turns 18 in New Hampshire, so the police are now investigating Ernest Willis. Chuck Phelps, now senior pastor at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis, says that he did not “participate in a cover-up”: after he’d phoned the police, he just had the girl shipped off to Colorado (where the woman she was sent to stay with made her write a letter of apology to Ernest Willis’s wife, for getting pregnant by her husband) to “have the baby”, which was then given up for adoption.

    Chuck Phelps’ current church is Colonial Hills Baptist Church , 8140 Union Chapel Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46240. Phone:
    317-253-5597. Fax: 317-254-2847. There’s a comments form.

    They say “We’re interested in your comments and questions.” They also say: “Colonial Hills Baptist Church is a family of caring Christians, a place where people feel like they are coming home. Through fervent prayer, the passionate and practical declaration of God’s Word, carefully presented and God-focused music, and a sincere love for the individual, Colonial Hills Baptist Church desires to help you and your family grow in Christ.”

    Presumably, Ernest Willis and his family were “helped to grow in Christ” by Pastor Chuck Phelps. Wonder how many other rapists he’s “helping” at his new church?

  45. Mighty Ponygirl
    Mighty Ponygirl June 8, 2010 at 3:04 pm |

    Of course a 13-year-old could consent to sex with a 30-year-old. But that’s not the issue in stat rape cases. Yes, the laws concerning stat rape are often sexist in their application (they tend to be paternalistic and can be misused/abused by angry parents)- I’ve heard of cases where a 15-year-old girl has sex with her 18-year-old boyfriend and her parents find out and press charges. Etc. Etc. (Cue men’s rights activist rant…)

    Yeah, you always HEAR about that stuff. Let’s see some statistics. I want to see actual numbers on 19 year olds who are locked up for fucking their 17 year old girlfriends vs. the numbers of 25 year olds who go away for fucking 14 year olds. Of course, the whole point of this is not-so subtle goalpost moving. If a 19 year old shouldn’t go to jail for fucking at 17 year old, what about a 16 year old? 15? 14? 13, do I hear 13?

    Most states have safe harbor law, where a year or two difference in age is respected if one is over the age of consent and one is under the age of consent. These are sometimes called “Romeo and Juliet laws.” But we never hear about these laws in the hand-wringing of men who are oh-so-concerned about those 19 year olds with their 17 year old girlfriends. Because the existence of those laws are problematic to their overall goal, which is to do away with statutory rape laws (and possibly rape laws themselves). It’s like anti-choicers who get uncomfortably quiet when you ask about contraception.

    Of course, the poor oppressed pederasts will always make sure that we start talking about those sad 19 year olds wasting away in jail for fucking their 17 year old girlfriends. Even in a clear-cut case when a 30 year old impregnated a 13-year-old, they want to make sure that any discussion of statutory rape is filtered through a lens of their specific scenario so that the entire law can be delegitimized so that they can go back to raping pre-teens in peace.

  46. Lasciel
    Lasciel June 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm |

    “Most states”? As far as I’ve know, it’s only a handful of them. And I don’t know if the Kansas law has been amended, but they threw a 17-year old gay teen in jail for 17 years because he had consensual sex with a 14-year old boy.

    Not to mention the sexual consent age for homosexual sex in many countries is much higher than for heterosexual sex.

  47. matlun
    matlun June 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm |

    @Lasciel: The age of consent laws in the US can definitely be criticized. (Seriously, who thinks that 18 year is a reasonable age to put the age of consent? In states without strong safe harbor laws this will mean that the majority of adults have at some time broken this law.)

    But do you agree with:
    1. There should be some form of age of consent laws on the books, and
    2. Such a law should criminalize a 30 year old having sex with a 13 year old.

    As somewhat of a (further?) derail, I would not really agree with the simple statement “That is rape”. Statutory rape is not the same crime as rape (legally speaking), and I think it is problematic trying to equate these crimes since (IMHO) it devalues the meaning of the term rape and just causes confusion. (It might be noted that “statutory rape” is actually not called that in many legal systems. For example some US states use “corruption of a minor” or “unlawful sexual intercourse”).

  48. Lasciel
    Lasciel June 8, 2010 at 5:40 pm |

    @Jill-I wasn’t comparing the two age gaps necessarily, more just addressing MightyPony’s dismissing teens getting charged for being with other teens. And I am damned relieved to hear that law was overturned and the man released.

    I’ve said pretty much everything I can say about the consent issue. I agree in many or even most cases it’s probably harmful for a 13-year to date such an older man. I will never agree with judging every single 13-30 relationship as rape or call a man in a situation I know almost nothing about a “worthless piece of shit rapist” because he was in a relationship with a minor. Getting into “every” and “all” and “never” too often lead to stereotyping and closing one’s mind.

    I would agree that any 30 year old that sleeps with a 13 year should go to jail. The needs of the many, protection against the predatory, outweigh the rights of the few mature young teens. The only alternative would be perhaps some amount of regular relationship counseling and psychological/physical analysis to determine who’s mature enough to consent; and that would be time-consuming, expensive, subject to corruption, and an actual predator would be unlikely to participate in it, while it’s existence would still lend his preying unearned legitimacy. Plus, no one cares about young teens having sexual freedom enough to create such a system in the first place.

    I have never felt any sympathy towards those that engage in law-breaking activity; and even less for those that get caught. The reason I brought it up in the first place is because it’s irritating to see the loathing and insults that a rapist deserves heaped upon someone that could only be a rapist in the legal sense.

  49. Bushfire
    Bushfire June 8, 2010 at 6:31 pm |

    I find it pretty gross that this thread has turned into a debate about the age of consent. We have a girl who was clearly mistreated, not just by her rapist, but by society in general, and people are choosing to argue about age of consent? Disgusting.

  50. Lasciel
    Lasciel June 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm |

    @Bushfire-this is a post about a specific crime. There’s a possibility that her boyfriend’s age prevented her from seeking an abortion, a pregnancy test or other care, or even kept her from discussing her pregnancy with her parents.

    It could be that she wanted to seek help or a safe abortion but he prevented her out of fear of being caught and jailed, or that she was motivated not to seek help out of fear of reprisal or shaming for being with an older man.

  51. Faith
    Faith June 8, 2010 at 7:02 pm |

    “For example some US states use “corruption of a minor” or “unlawful sexual intercourse””

    That would be because we live in a society where sexual crimes are defined by a patriarchal standard. It’s also because we live in a society that is terribly hesitant to label men rapists.

    What we are talking about is rape. There is no real reason to say “statutory rape”. Rape is sex that occurs without consent. That is what rape actually is. Calling it rape is only confusing to people who insist that in order for an encounter to be rape, overt physical force or violence must be involved. Those of us who are educated about these matters know that is simply not the case and we aren’t confused by the distinction.

    And I’ll second Bushfire’s comment. That anyone is even questioning whether or not this was rape, or if similar situations would be rape, is disgusting.

  52. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers June 8, 2010 at 7:31 pm |

    I like the way William put it.

    If a therapist has sex with their patient, that is rape. Regardless of if the patient is “really in love” with the therapist. Regardless of the fact that in all other walks of life the patient is a full grown adult and considered wholly competent to make their own life choices. It’s not rape because the patient can’t consent to sex. It’s rape because the patient could not meaningfully consent to sex *with their therapist*, given the therapist’s immense emotional power over the patient.

    Same with the 30 year old guy. Yeah, the 13 year old may have thought she *was* consenting. And I’ll go so far as to say a relationship between an immature 18 year old and a mature 13 year old *might* not be exploitative, and that could be a problem with how we draw absolute lines. But a 13 year old cannot meaningfully consent to sex with a 30 year old because the power dynamic is too enormously stacked on the side of the 30 year old. “Yes” is meaningless when “no” stops being a realistic possibility, and it is entirely possible to coerce people in ways that they don’t even realize they are being coerced. Patients fall in love with therapists. Teens with 30 somethings. It happens. But it’s impossible to tell the difference between a person making a free choice and a person being coerced in a situation where we recognize that human beings can actually be pressured into *thinking* they’re making a free choice.

    I don’t see this as an insulting restriction on 13 year olds. It’s a restriction on 30 year olds. Stay away from the kids. And yeah, maybe she didn’t go get an abortion because she was afraid her boyfriend would be arrested, but there are plenty of women who are beaten by their husbands who don’t go to the cops because they’re afraid their husbands will be arrested, and that doesn’t mean they freely consented to be beaten or that the husbands had the right to beat them.

    Besides, a 30 year old’s been around the block. Surely he knows how to use birth control, and how to help a woman obtain an abortion. If he knocked her up and didn’t help her get an abortion even though she wanted one so badly she was willing to risk death for it, this was not a loving guy who just happened to be too old for her — this was a predator who didn’t care about her well being.

  53. Bushfire
    Bushfire June 8, 2010 at 8:06 pm |

    @Lasciel. Were you disagreeing with me? I didn’t really understand your last comment. There’s nothing in it I disagree with.

  54. Lasciel
    Lasciel June 8, 2010 at 9:08 pm |

    @Bushfire-not disagreement so much as pointing out that age of consent is a factor in this, so I don’t really see what’s disgusting about talking about it.

    @Faith-”There is no real reason to say “statutory rape”. Rape is sex that occurs without consent. That is what rape actually is. Calling it rape is only confusing to people who insist that in order for an encounter to be rape, overt physical force or violence must be involved.”

    No one said violence had to be involved. I am not ignorant of the matters or confused. I do not deny that if a woman is unconscious, or blackmailed, that is rape.

    That doesn’t change the fact that you are denying teenagers the right to consent to sex with whatever partner they like.

    “that anyone is even questioning whether or not this was rape, or if similar situations would be rape, is disgusting.”

    You know what I think is disgusting? Someone telling me that I am too stupid to make my own decisions and I need to be protected “for my own good”. Kind of reminds me of the old tripe that all the poor, silly, weak women needed to be protected by the menfolk for “their own good”.

    Your insta-judgement you cast on all young women is likely a factor in why this poor girl was put in such a terrible situation.

  55. Failed girls | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen

    [...] Feministe, Jill writes about a heartsickening story of a 13 year old’s self-induced abortion after being impregnated by a 30 year old: [...]

  56. Helping teenagers, or giving them easy access to contraception? | Live Action Blog – Human Rights, Abortion, and Life

    [...] sites like Feministe and Radical Bookworm blame parental consent laws and pro-life writers like Jill Stanek for failing [...]

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