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  1. #1
    jbsmith Guest

    Question Girl lied about her age - criminal charges were filed. Can I sue for damages?

    I'm in Georgia, a state where "reasonable mistake of age" is not a defense - basically despite the fact that she lied (and admitted to lying) about her age is not a defense to the criminal charges. I've been sentenced to a felony: statutory rape. As a result of this, I'll be imprisoned for three months, and then I'll be a registered felon for 10 years, which is the length of my probation. I qualified for First Offenders, which means that after my probation is up the felony will be removed from my records.

    Ten years is a long time. Not to mention that I've spent over $10,000 in legal fees and fines, and will spend another $10,000 in fines before this is all over. I'll have to spend time in a detention center, my entire community regards me as a pariah, I've been kicked out of my church and lost my job - and all of this because I beleived the girl I was dating when she said she was 16. I was only 19 at the time, and I'll be well into my thirties before I can put this all behind me.

    I would like to know if there are any civil remedies to this problem. I am not out looking for "revenge" however I do feel that if I have to pay for this mistake, perhaps I shouldn't bear the burden alone. This young woman's dishonesty is what caused the crime to occur in the first place.

    Thank you for any help.
    Last edited by jbsmith; 04-20-2002 at 03:02 PM.
  2. #2
    tkern1230 Guest
    I don't have an answer to your question, but it is a very good one.

    It appauls me the number of young girls that are sexually active and either lie about their age, or claim that they were forced to cover up the fact that they are sexually active. Unfortunately, this is a gender biased crime that puts the burden of accuracy of age on the male.

    If you were only 19, why such a stiff penalty, especially as a first time offender? I have seen teachers in Cherokee County that have been prosecuted for having sex with students get sentenced to 5 years probation? What county did this happen in?

    I would think that perhaps the parents of your ex-girlfriend are liable for negligence. If they knew that she was sexually active, that she had a boyfriend, and that she could potentially be having sex with you, they should be held somewhat responsible I would think. They failed to protect her in some way maybe?

    Keep the results of your findings posted on here if you don't mind...I would like to see other's opinions.

    Good luck!
  3. #3
    Vincent Cosent Guest

    Civil remedy

    Perhaps an attorney could challenge this long probation on grounds of cruel and unusal punishment. He may also be able to motion the court for some change. As for your community you might get permission to speak to seniors in high schools about this problem. You might try TV talk shows like Opera Winfrey as this might gain support for this issue and you in particular.
    Blame is not the answer. You can blame her parents, your parents, the child,the courts,your lawyer,her lawyer,the town,city,and state but that wont get you anywhere.

    To error is human, to forgive is devine
  4. #4
    ninalou is offline Member
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    It sure sounds to me like someone is out to make an example of you. . . especially if the girl admitted she lied.

    If I were you, I would get a second legal opinion on your conviction. And I agree, go public. You are basically being punished for her lie.
  5. #5
    JETX is offline Senior Member
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    You have certainly gotten a lot of personal opinions and 'Wowies', but no legal answers.

    Let me try....
    "I would like to know if there are any civil remedies to this problem. I am not out looking for "revenge" however I do feel that if I have to pay for this mistake, perhaps I shouldn't bear the burden alone. This young woman's dishonesty is what caused the crime to occur in the first place."

    How old was the girl?? If she was a minor (which we assume was so), then she couldn't be held civilly liable for the predicament you put yourself into... even if there was a cause of action. So, it appears that any hope of civil action or recovery is DOA in any case.

    I think that you are still not accepting the fact that this was YOUR problem and not the 'girls'. Especially considering the 'no excuse' laws in Georgia, you should have taken particular care in confirming the age, if she misrepresented it to you. You say that your 'downfall' was "all of this because I beleived the girl I was dating when she said she was 18." How long had you dated this girl?? Or was this just a 'one-nighter'??? Had you taken any opportunity to 'actually know' her?? Did you meet her family??

    Could you imagine how the courts would ever determine who was telling the truth if they simply allowed a defense to be "she told me she was XX of age"?? That is why the legislature made the laws as they are... it is incumbent on YOU to verify that your 'partner' is of age.... they sure can't after the fact.
  6. #6
    tkern1230 Guest
    I don't think that he is denying that criminally he is responsible. In Georgia, where many of these laws are dated back to the Civil War, the criminal piece is clear. The burden is on the male to confirm the age of the female, regardless of whether or not she tells the truth. Clearly, he is being punished for it - harshly if you ask me.

    This young man could set a precedent in the civil arena by challenging the status quo...The girl and/or her parents should be held responsible for her lying and/or engaging in the act of sex. Criminally in Georgia, there is a law agains juveniles engaging in "fornication." Rockdale County, where several years ago a group of teens contracted Syphillis after they engaged in orgies, recently prosecuted a juvenile for fornication and charged her boyfriend for statutory rape after they were caught having sex in a stahl in the bathroom of a high school. Her lawyer is claiming that the statute by which she is being prosecuted is outdated, but I disagree. Rockdale county specifically has an excessive number of teenage pregnancies and sexually active minors. Where are the parents of these sexually active girls???

    I say go for the civil action - set a precedent - make the girl and parents civilly responsible for the actions of their children. Parents are held responsible for other crimes that children commit - this one should be no different. Maybe they would take more responsibility to keep the legs of their daughters closed instead of putting 100% of the blame on the male.
  7. #7
    Vincent Cosent Guest

    Ive done a little reading

    Age of consent in Georgia is 16. So the girl had to be 15 or less in this case to be statutory rape.
    So my question is can a 19 year old male tell a girl is 15 ?
    Did he not know she was still in school or wasent he aware that this was a crime at all ?
  8. #8
    ninalou is offline Member
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    questions for jbsmith

    After reading all these posts, I am curious as to how old this girl was. How long were you dating her? Were her parents aware of you dating her?

    I am a Junior Achievement consultant for the 5th grade. And it is frightening to see the way some of these 12 yo girls dress. They are developed and wearing VERY provocative clothes. They look 16-17+! How parents can justify letting their children dress this way - but then cry foul when it leads to something is wrong.

    When you date someone you do ask them their age, but if we now have to start saying "provide some proof of that," our society is breeding distrust.
  9. #9
    JETX is offline Senior Member
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    Good questions... and already asked earlier.

    JBSMITH, where are you and are you going to answer our questions????
  10. #10
    tkern1230 Guest
    I think JB is currently serving his time in the detention center - based on the date of the original post.

    I think we are going to have to wait until he gets out to continue this discussion further.

    A comment regarding whether or not he knew this was a crime - again - he is being punished criminally for what occurred. It doesn't matter whether he knew or not - he's been prosecuted, convicted and sentanced.

    The issue now is whether or not the girl and her parents should be civilly liable for this incident as well. JB could set a precedent and wake parents up to take responsibility for the actions of their daughters.
  11. #11
    jbsmith Guest

    Lightbulb updated response... sorry for the delay!

    Thank you for your replies. JB is in fact serving his time in the detention center, this is his wife – he recently asked me to check his email, and upon finding that he has received replies to his queries, let me answer your questions.

    A more detailed explanation:

    JB was raised in a strict religious household, as a Jehovah’s Witness. If none of you are familiar with the religion, when a member of the church has an indiscretion, they are subject to being “disfellowshipped.” This basically means that they must behave in a certain manner and follow certain rules until they are allowed back into the normal congregation. They are allowed to attend church services, but are not allowed to have contact with any members of the church (otherwise these members are subject to disfellowship as well).

    At the age of 18, JB and a few male friends from the church were overcome by guilt and confessed to drinking and dating on a few occasions (all very innocent by “normal” standards.) All involved were disfellowshipped from the church. One day after a church service, two young women came up to JB and handed him a note. It basically said, “we know you aren’t allowed to talk to us in public, but call us at [number] as we want to get to know you.”

    The two young women were sisters, I’ll call them Jane and Lisa. They gave their ages to him as (Jane) 18 and (Lisa) 16. JB did contact them, and met them at their parents home on several occasions. He dated Jane for two months, and his (17 year old) friend dated Lisa. All of the relationships were kept extremely private, as getting caught dating would cause everyone involved to be disfellowshipped from the church. JB was already disfellowshipped, and attempting to get back into the church, although hiding the fact that he was dating Jane.

    At some point, he told Jane that he wanted to end the relationship. She was upset at first, then seemed to recover quickly by telling him that her sister was interested in him and that she was interested in the friend that her sister had been dating. One evening, JB took the younger sister out while the older sister entertained his friend. JB and Lisa were fooling around and had just begun to have intercourse when his cell phone rang. It was Lisa’s mother, asking when she’d be home. JB took her home immediately. A short time later he emailed the girls letting them know that he couldn’t keep dating either of them, as he was trying to get back into the church and couldn’t afford to get caught dating anyone.

    One month after his 19th birthday, the county police showed up at his home and began asking him questions about Jane. (Had he dated her, had he had sex with her.) He told them that he had, and then they asked if he’d dated and had sex with Lisa. Again he said that he had, and they arrested him for statutory rape. At the police station, one officer mentioned to him that he should’ve asked for a lawyer first, as he’d “seen the girls, and never would’ve guessed how young they were.”

    After he was released to his parent’s custody, the girls contacted him via email several times, saying that they “loved him” and were “sorry they lied about their age.” It turned out that Jane was 16, not 18 (but still at the age of consent), and Lisa was 14, not 16. He saved all emails and turned them over to his lawyer, though they did not help his case. Again, mistake of age is not a legal defense for statutory rape. His lawyer was hopeful at first, saying that he handled several cases similar to JB’s, and that he would receive a few years probation at most. As the case lingered on, however, JB’s lawyer made notice that the DA in the case had a 15-year-old daughter and was very harsh on these types of situations.

    As JB already stated, he was sentenced to detention time in a military style boot camp, as well as 10 years intensive probation.

    The portion of the situation that led us to believe that at the very least the parents should be negligible – the mother (although not the father, who was the one who called the police upon finding out) was aware of what was going on. She knew her 14-year-old daughter was going out with JB, and made no mention that she was against it, or her daughter’s age, for that matter.

    JB is now 21, and has not had contact with either girl since getting arrested just after his 19th birthday. The girls, and several of their friends, continue to email him (all emails have been saved). JB has also gotten several emails from someone claiming to be “14 and looking for someone who likes to have sex with little girls” – we believe these emails are coming from the girls’ father.

    To whoever asked if a 19-year-old male could tell when a girl is 15 (or younger) – you should see these girls. When I first saw them, *I* was shocked at their young age, and I’m a female myself.

    QUOTE: When you date someone you do ask them their age, but if we now have to start saying "provide some proof of that," our society is breeding distrust.

    Agreed. JB did ask the girls their age… I don’t know of anyone who goes further to ask to see some proof. None of the circumstances surrounding the situation led him to believe they were under the legal age of consent – the mother’s knowledge and seeming approval. JB simply believed they had to keep the situation quiet because of the religious ramifications. (Their father, as well as HIS father, were both elders in their church).

    Perhaps these answers will help with my husband’s query: are the parents of these girls liable (if not the girls themselves?)

    Thanks again for your responses.
  12. #12
    ninalou is offline Member
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    thanks for your response (jbsmith's wife.)

    I'm not an attorney, but in reading a number of threads & responses on this forum, I think the parents can be held liable for their daughters actions.

    If your car is taken - with or without your consent - and in an accident, you are responsible for damages; I also read a thread on someone who "lent her cat to a neighbor who had rodent problems" and was sued for something the cat did! I recently read a post where a minor took a car without permission and caused an accident; the response was that the parents can be held liable bc his action was deliberate and they are responsible for a minor.

    I don't know if that is true or not; But, the girls parents were clearly aware their daughters were dating your husband; based on all my interpretations of prior posts, it is my understanding that they had a responsibility to make sure he was aware of the situation.

    I would contact an attorney. I would also save all the emails sent from the girls afterward. And by the way, emails can be traced. If you believe the girls father is sending those unwanted emails; trace it, prove it, then file harassment charges.

    Again, I'm not an attorney, but it really sounds like your husband got a raw deal. They all new what was going on and should have to bear some responsibility.
  13. #13
    ProResearch Guest
    I don't usually post in this forum (although I do post in others), but found this one particularly interesting. I think someone or two are testing or not 'guarding their heart' (they'll know what I mean). The whole story (although much detail was provided, some of it was not truly relevant to the situation) sounds a bit far fetched to me. There is most likely MUCH more to the story than this.

    If everyone is agreeing that 10 years probation is too long for a crime such as this, then perhaps we should acknowledge we don't know all the facts.

    Also, it is of note, that there are reasons for some "rules" meaning, "if you can't do the time, then don't do the crime." In Biblical terms that means "don't fornicate" or "commit adultery." lol I know I know but think of all the *men* it would protect against lying underage *girls*. Maaaybe just maybe that is one rule that protects us from a lot of things (not even talking about unwanted pregnancies, STDs and AIDS, broken families and etc. etc.)

    I know this is a bit harsh for today's standards but**************

    Regards,

    ~Diane~
  14. #14
    tkern1230 Guest

    Question

    I'm not sure I understand the response from Diane...the thought process isn't clear.

    I think the facts are very simple - These two sisters lied about their ages, one sister had sex with JB, he was a young adult at the time, her parents found out, and instead of them addressing the fact that their 14 year old daughter was sexually active, they decided to give 100% of the blame to JB. This girl's parents knew that their 14 year old daughter was dating someone over 18 - they should have had a problem with THAT to begin with and wondered what an 18 year old was doing with a young girl.

    This is NOT about some older man having sex with a minor - this is about a sexually active young teenager and a young man now having this horrific charge on his record permanantly. Once again, society is ready to throw a "rapist" label on this guy, when this situation is far from rape. It's a shame that our court systems get clogged up with situations like this that could be avoided by parents taking responsibility for their minor children's actions. We are letting the real rapists get away by putting doubt regarding consent in the public's mind as a result of this kind of litigation.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - there is a shared responsibiity here. Let's not get blinded by our idealistic views that the young girl was an innocent virgin and this guy was a mature adult predator. I think the piece of the story we're missing is that this girl instigated the sex and he made a bad choice by engaging in it.
  15. #15
    jbsmith Guest
    ProResearch:

    "The whole story (although much detail was provided, some of it was not truly relevant to the situation) sounds a bit far fetched to me."

    Really? I guess it's true then when they say that fact is often stranger than fiction. If this had appeared or felt to us to be a "normal" or "fair" clear-cut case, do you think that my husband (or myself) would be spewing out personal information on a public message board? Surely not. We both feel that, given the details of what actually occurred, perhaps all parties involved in the “wrong-doing” should be held accountable for their share of what occurred.

    “If everyone is agreeing that 10 years probation is too long for a crime such as this, then perhaps we should acknowledge we don't know all the facts.”

    True, you all probably do not know all the facts. You know many more than we originally chose to give out, because we were a bit wary regarding how this situation would be looked upon. Know this, however: our new lawyer is simply aghast at the stiff penalty that had been handed down upon my husband, particularly when the very same day he appeared in court, a 40-something man was given only one year of probation after molesting a teenage neighbor. If you think that justice is always handed down fairly – you need to open your idealistic eyes my dear. Those people, the judges, lawyers, and DA’s, may take an oath to uphold the law, but that does not make them perfect or preclude them from pursuing their own agendas or simply from making errors in judgment that were based more on personal feelings than on fact. They are, after all, only human.

    I'm really not sure where you're going with the rest of your statements. *shrug*

    tkern1230 - "I've said it before and I'll say it again - there is a shared responsibility here." Thanks - and very much agreed!

    My husband and I came here for the "free advice" this forum advertises, and many of those here obliged. Thank you all for your thoughts/advice. I have contacted a lawyer regarding this entire matter, and his thoughts echo many of those posed here - particularly that the parents are responsible for their children’s actions (particularly if they "condone" them by action or lack of action).

    Thanks again. If anyone is interested in the outcome of this matter, my husband and I can be reached at the email address provided in his profile.

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