The Paradox of Statutory Rape
46 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2012
Date Written: February 22, 2011
What once protected only virginal girls under the age of ten now also protects sexually aggressive males under the age of eighteen. While thirteenth-century statutory rape law had little reason to address the unthinkable possibility of chaste nine-year-old girls raping adult men, twenty-first-century statutory rape law has failed to address the modern reality of distinctly unchaste seventeen-year-old males raping adult women. Despite dramatically expanding statutory rape's protected class, the minimalist thirteenth-century conception of the offense remains largely unchanged -- intercourse with a juvenile. Overlooked is the new effect of this centuries-old offense -- a sexually aggressive seventeen-year-old raping an adult now exposes the adult rape victim to statutory rape liability. By being raped, the adult rape victim satisfies the minimal elements of the offense, lacks any defenses, and thereby commits statutory rape of her juvenile rapist. Therefore, the offense of statutory rape criminalizes being raped; that is, it criminalizes being the victim of rape. Paradoxically, while the offense of rape prohibits committing rape, the offense of statutory rape prohibits being raped. What the law of rape seeks to protect us from -- being raped -- the law of statutory rape punishes us for.
Keywords: statutory rape, rape, defense, paradox, juvenile, rape by force, rape by coercion, rape by fraud
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation