Law's Limits: Regulating Statutory Rape Law

Michele Goodwin

University of California, Irvine School of Law

May 15, 2013

Wisconsin Law Review, 2013
Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper 13-23

This Article examines statutory rape cases of the last decade and submits that both the apparatus to police sexual violence against minors — statutory rape laws — as well as their application against consenting minors create legally untenable, absurd results that frequently impose legal and extralegal burdens on minors that may exceed that of adult, convicted rapists. No coherent framework has been offered by a politician that responds pragmatically to the empirical realities of adolescent sexuality. Neither federal nor state legislatures offer a coherent, well-articulated approach to militate against the harshest criminal punishments demanded by statutory rape provisions. Indeed, judges interpret and enforce statutory rape cases in a manner that entrenches stereotypes and biases. On the other hand, few scholars wrestle with the broader contemporary applications of statutory rape law despite recent decades of absurd results and disproportionately harsh penalties against teens. The Article offers two novel ways forward to address teen sex and statutory rape.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 61

Keywords: Crime, Rape, Statutory rape, Sexual predatory, Adolescents, Teens, Sex, Pregnancy, Abstinence, Punishment, Cruel and Unusual, Race, Gender

JEL Classification: H59, K14, K4, K40, K42, K49, I3, I31, J7, J71, J78, K32

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Date posted: May 16, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Goodwin, Michele, Law's Limits: Regulating Statutory Rape Law (May 15, 2013). Wisconsin Law Review, 2013; Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper 13-23. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2265567

Contact Information

Michele Goodwin (Contact Author)
University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )
401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States
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