- Associated Press - Monday, February 9, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Supreme Court is set to hear arguments over whether juveniles who are both under the age of consent can be criminally charged when they voluntarily have sex.

The Courier-Journal (https://cjky.it/1xY7rFs) reports attorneys will appear before justices on Thursday to argue the case.

It originated in Woodford County after the parents of a 13-year-old girl found nude photos of their daughter’s 15-year-old boyfriend on her phone.

They took out a warrant on the boy, who was charged with sexual misconduct and possessing matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor.

The age of consent in Kentucky is 16, and although the boy’s parents could have taken out charges against the girl, they didn’t.

The question before the justices is whether criminal charges against the boy should stand.

“This case matters to any parent who has a teenage child, or will have a teenage child,” said assistant public advocate John Wampler, who represents the boy. “The simple fact is that unfortunately, many young teens under 16 are having sex with each other and engaging in sexting.

“If the Commonwealth’s position is held to be correct, then approximately one third of all teenagers, according to recent statistics, could be charged with a felony sex offense,” Wampler said. “That should strike fear in the hearts of every parent who has bought their child a smartphone.”

The Kentucky attorney general’s office is defending the prosecution and says the boy’s punishment is justified because he initiated the acts and was on probation for a previous indecent exposure charge.

In addition, assistant Attorney General Gregory Fuchs says the boy lost the right to challenge the constitutionality of his conviction because he pleaded guilty.

In a friend-of-the-court brief, the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia and the Children’s Law Center of Covington say criminalizing “sexual explorations” is a bad idea.

“Dealing with sexual feelings is an important part of adolescence,” they state, adding that several other states make allowances when teens near the same age are voluntarily having sex.

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com


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