Romeo and Juliet are now Both Sex Offenders

randj

Romeo and Juliet would now both liable to lengthy prison sentences for sexual offences including “grooming”

Some months ago, young man and a young woman engaged in some snogging and even some heavy petting in his car in the North of England. It was entirely consensual; they had been exchanging messages about getting together.

Why, you might ask, is this normal if somewhat tawdry behaviour of any concern to any of us? The answer is that the intrusion of the heavy arm of the law on this occasion has proved to be hugely damaging, both the young man and the rest of us who pay tax.

The young woman in question was 15 years old, and for most of the population of most of Europe[1], the behaviour of this young couple would have been absolutely lawful; the pair of them could have snogged, heavily petted and bonked to their hearts content, so long as they were both willing. These sorts of interactions are very common; it seems that about a quarter of young English women first experience sexual intercourse before they are 16, and no doubt a much higher proportion of them experience snogging and heavy petting by that age. And although I have no hard evidence to prove this, my strong suspicion is that the vast majority of this sexual activity by 15-year-old girls is with partners who are older than them.

Unhappily, it is time to go into some more gory detail. The identity of the 15-year-old is supposed to be a secret[2]. The young man was called Adam Johnson; at the time, he was 26 years old and earning good money as a professional footballer. He had a live in girlfriend at the time, which hardly makes his assignation with the 15-year-old very attractive behaviour. We only know so much of the motives and aspiration of the 15-year-old: she was plainly very attracted to him, and may well have hoped that the snogging would in due course turn into something much more permanent. There are plenty of examples of marriages which began with snogging, heavy petting, and bonking well before the age of consent. For example Elvis Presley’s wife was only 14 when they met and started sleeping together[3]. Likewise, Gerry Rafferty’s wife was only 15 when they met. Is it right that, if these relationships had not blossomed into marriage, but the hypothetically disappointed Priscilla or Carla blew the whistle, then Elvis Presley or Gerry Rafferty should have spent many years in prison? And of course, plenty of example of admired men in public life who had underage sex, such as David Bowie and indeed one or two of my wholly respectable friends (they still happily married to the women they first slept with when they were under age): should they also have languished in jail for year after year?

Anyway, it seems that in this case, the young man in this case had no intention of leaving his live-in girlfriend, evidently fancing himself as something of a lad, indulging himself in sex with as many young women as were willing. But when it became evident the 15-year-old that she was not going to be the next Mrs Johnson, and her father was not as appoving as in An Education, she blew the whistle. There was a trial, attracting much media attention. It was common ground that they had snogged. It was common ground that they had not had sexual intercourse. She said that she had put her mouth around his penis; he denied that and the jury found that this allegation was not made out. She also said that he had put his hand in her knickers, and the jury were divided on this one – by a 10 to 2 majority, they found that he had done this.

And so to the legal position. It is worth emphasising that this is all about the legal position in England, since 2003 when the present Sexual Offences Act was enacted. In other places, and at other times, nothing illegal would have taken place. Section 9 of the Act provides as follows: –

9 Sexual activity with a child

(1) A person aged 18 or over (A) commits an offence if–

(a) he intentionally touches another person (B),

(b) the touching is sexual, and

(c) either–

(i) B is under 16 and A does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over, or

(ii) B is under 13.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section, if the touching involved–

(a) penetration of B´s anus or vagina with a part of A´s body or anything else,

(b) penetration of B´s mouth with A´s penis,

(c) penetration of A´s anus or vagina with a part of B´s body, or

(d) penetration of A´s mouth with B´s penis,

is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

In other words, if a 15-year-old girl is petting with a 19-year-old boy, and she guides his hand down to her eager vagina, the boy had better run if he does not want to risk spending the next 14 years of his life in prison. Either that, or put the car into gear and drive through the Channel Tunnel as fast as he can., because as soon as he gets to France it is absolutely fine for him to give her an orgasm with his fingers and indeed to have full penetrative sex with her (provided, of course, that she is still willing after the drive). Actually, not such a good idea. Because whilst is fine for French kids of 15 to be bonking away to their hearts content, it is only OK for English kids of 15 to do it in France if they did not think of it until they got there. Seems potty? Read on.

As it happens, the Act is so eager to send people to prison for a maximum of 14 years that it will intervene even if there is no sexual conduct whatsoever. Sections 14 and 15 provide:

14 Arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence

(1) A person commits an offence if–

(a) he intentionally arranges or facilitates something that he intends to do, intends another person to do, or believes that another person will do, in any part of the world, and

(b) doing it will involve the commission of an offence under any of sections 9 to 13.

(2) A person does not commit an offence under this section if–

(a) he arranges or facilitates something that he believes another person will do, but that he does not intend to do or intend another person to do, and

(b) any offence within subsection (1)(b) would be an offence against a child for whose protection he acts.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2), a person acts for the protection of a child if he acts for the purpose of–

(a) protecting the child from sexually transmitted infection,

(b) protecting the physical safety of the child,

(c) preventing the child from becoming pregnant, or

(d) promoting the child´s emotional well-being by the giving of advice,

and not for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification or for the purpose of causing or encouraging the activity constituting the offence within subsection (1)(b) or the child´s participation in it.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable–

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

15 Meeting a child following sexual grooming etc.

(1) A person aged 18 or over (A) commits an offence if–

(a) having met or communicated with another person (B) on at least two earlier occasions, he–

(i) intentionally meets B, or

(ii) travels with the intention of meeting B in any part of the world,

(b) at the time, he intends to do anything to or in respect of B, during or after the meeting and in any part of the world, which if done will involve the commission by A of a relevant offence,

(c) B is under 16, and

(d) A does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over.

(2) In subsection (1)–

(a) the reference to A having met or communicated with B is a reference to A having met B in any part of the world or having communicated with B by any means from, to or in any part of the world;

(b) “relevant offence” means–

(i) an offence under this Part,

(ii) an offence within any of paragraphs 61 to 92 of Schedule 3, or

(iii) anything done outside England and Wales and Northern Ireland which is not an offence within sub-paragraph (i) or (ii) but would be an offence within sub-paragraph (i) if done in England and Wales.

(3) In this section as it applies to Northern Ireland–

(a) subsection (1) has effect with the substitution of “17” for “16” in both places;

(b) subsection (2)(b)(iii) has effect with the substitution of “sub-paragraph (ii) if done in Northern Ireland” for “sub-paragraph (i) if done in England and Wales”.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable–

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.

Before analysing this, it is worth bearing in mind the provisions of section 13:

13 Child sex offences committed by children or young persons

(1) A person under 18 commits an offence if he does anything which would be an offence under any of sections 9 to 12 if he were aged 18.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable–

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years.

So what does all of this mean? It means that if a 15-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl get together, and entirely consensually, she gives him a blowjob or he gives her an orgasm with his fingers, then they can both be sent to prison for 5 years, the same result as if they have full sex. If he is over 18, then it is 14 years. Further, if they text each other, and arrange to meet either or both of them hoping for a blowjob or for him to get his hand in her knickers, then either or perhaps both of them are liable to be banged up for up to 14 years.

Curiously, while the age of consent for hetersexual sex has been going up, the age of consent for homesexual sex has been going down:

aoc

The last points in each of these series is regional only.Thus, it is OK for a homosexual man to bugger a boy of 16 in Scotland, but in Northern Ireland it would be illegal for a heterosexual boy to give his 16 year old girlfriend an orgasm by hand. Go figure!

Adam-Johnson-house-for-Sale-sold-under-offer_0155.pngThese laws are utterly absurd. Most women are fully sexually mature long before they are 16 years old[4]. There might well be good reasons to persuade young women to wait until they are a little older before starting to have sex but these ridiculously Draconian penalties are wholly inappropriate. To equate meeting 15-year-old with a view of some heavy petting with the crime of, for example, armed robbery is not merely extreme prudery, but collective madness. In part, of course, it is all a matter of jealousy: Adam Johnson was earning good money as a footballer and owned in a pleasant house. Unlike Priscilla Presley, this 15-year-old did not “get her man” and never made it to this particular Graceland. Further, the courts might have been under pressure to make an example of him as a sacrifice to the feminists. And so Adam Johnson has been sent to prison for 6 years. At a cost to the public of some £305,000[5], not t6o mention the doubtless huge cost of endless tut-tutters buzzing around at public expense. And a much greater cost to Adam Johnson, this whole business having ruined his career.

I am not suggesting, of course, for one moment that Adam Johnson’s behaviour was admirable. But then again, neither was that of Shakespeare’s Romeo, and he did not deserve to go to prison for 14 years either. Rather, I am suggesting that the response to his behaviour (making no judgement here about the behaviour of the 15 year old) is a wholly disproportionate penalty, both for him and for the taxpayer. In her victim impact statement, she says has been let down by him and her schoolwork has suffered. That sounds like pretty normal teenage stuff – it hardly compares with being shot and being killed or seriously injured by a robber armed with a sawn-off shotgun,

There will be those who disagree with this view, I am sure, including but not limited to lesbian feminists. Then again, this legislation could be but has not yet applied to send many (if any?) lesbians to prison[6]. I am not for one moment suggesting it should be (as it happens, I value some lesbians feminists rather highly among my friends, even though I think they sometime spout the most appalling piffle) but if they did start locking up lesbians, a reform of the present legislative nonsense would be a lot easier to achieve.

 

 

[1] In Austria, Germany, Portugal and Italy the age of consent is 14, and in France, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Greece it is 15.

[2] Although Twitter is larded with her name and photographs of her (which do not look like the3 photographs of a child!). Those accounts suggest that she was bragging out her relationship with Johnson until her father found out. Who knows if this is true? If it is true, it invokes a remarkable parallel with Anna Ardin, the Swedish woman who has accused Julian Assange of “rape” – the documentary evidence shows that she was clearly bragging about it until she found out that he had bonked someone else later in the same week.

[3] There is some speculation about when they started having full sexual intercourse, but their own acknowledgements are enough to clearly show that Elvis would been liable for 14 year jail sentence under current English law.

[4] The average age of menarche in girls now 12 years and 10 months[32].

[5] Based on an estimated cost of £65,000 to get someone into prison and then £40,000 a year to keep him there. It may be somewhat less if they let him out early.

[6] At any rate, I put “Sexual Offences Act” and “lesbian” into Bailii and got no hits.

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