At the end of August, a young prep school student was found not guilty of felony rape charges against a fellow student in New York. This case had a huge media following, since it involved an elite prep school, and alleged that the school had a culture whereby older male students would engage in what they called a “senior salute”, wherein they would attempt to have a final sexual conquest with a younger female student.
The older student was charged with several felony and misdemeanor charges, and was exonerated of the felony rape charge, but eventually convicted of having sex with a girl that was too young to consent to sex, endangering the welfare of a child, and a felony charge involving using a computer to lure a minor.
This case resonated with me, in that we often see people in our practice who are charged with the crime of Rape of a Child. Rape of a child sounds like a horrendous offense involving a forcible rape of a child, however this is simply what our legislature renamed the previously named crime of Statutory Rape.
We regularly see young men and women who engage in, or are at least alleged to have engaged in sexual contact or intercourse with those too young to legally consent, even if they actually did consent. Sometimes these cases are brought due to parental pressure or other reasons.
In the New York case, the female student was 15 years old when the allegation was alleged to have occurred, while the defendant was 18 years old at that time.
The age of consent in Washington is sixteen years old. Additionally, in Washington a youth between the ages of 14-16 can legally consent to have sex with someone less than 48 months older than them. Therefore a 15 year old having sex with an 18 year old would be perfectly legal in Washington.