“But she said she was 17, your honor.”
Ignorance is no defense under the law, especially for teenagers who are unaware of how easy it is to become a convicted felon and registered sex offender. Have consensual sex with someone who is too young and you could find yourself in handcuffs.
In Connecticut, no one under the age of 16 is considered legally capable of consenting to sex, and the law prohibits older teens from having sex with younger teens.
Just last week, a local man who had sex with a 15-year-old when he was 19 pleaded guilty in a sexual assault case in New London Superior Court. The police got involved when one of the girl’s parents learned of the relationship. He was lucky, in a sense, since he was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor rather than a felony. He will not be required to serve prison time or register as a sex offender, because he is not considered a threat to public safety. Still, he will be on probation for two years, and, as the judge pointed out, will be carrying a sexual assault conviction with him for the rest of his life.
To help teens navigate the tricky topic, Kay Eyberse, coordinator of Norwich Youth and Family Services, has put together a program called “Kids, Sex and the Law.” It will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 15 at the Senior Center on Mahan Drive. Parents, professionals and high school students ages 14 and older are invited. Francis J. Carino, a supervisory assistant state’s attorney, will educate the audience on the sexual assault laws.
Eyberse said that the laws can be “kind of fuzzy” for teens and their parents, and the program will give them a better understanding and an opportunity to discuss what can be a difficult topic.
“This should be a conversation that parents have with their kids for their kids’ safety and the safety of the people they surround themselves with,” Eyberse said.
For more information on the program, call Eyberse at 860-823-3782.