The Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out a sex-abuse finding against a then-13-year-old Ogden girl who became pregnant by her 12-year-old boyfriend, ruling unanimously that treating her as both a victim and a perpetrator for the same act had created an “absurd result.”
The girl, identified as Z.C. in court records, was found guilty of violating a state law that prohibits sex with someone under 14. She also was the victim in the case against her boyfriend, who was found guilty of the same violation by engaging in consensual sexual activity with her.
Writing for the court, Justice Jill Parrish said the Utah Legislature “clearly could have intended some degree of simultaneous culpability for both Z.C. and the 12-year-old boy under the fornication statute in order to discourage their admittedly reckless and age-inappropriate behavior.”
However, she added, legislators could not have meant to punish both adolescents for child sex abuse. “The primary fail-safe against the absurd application of criminal law is the wise employment of prosecutorial discretion, a quality that is starkly absent in this case,” Parrish wrote in a footnote.
Matthew Bates, an assistant state attorney general, said that neither adolescent was charged with a crime.
Rather, Weber County prosecutors filed delinquency petitions against the girl and boy as a tool to get services for them, he said. “The intent from the beginning was to help these kids,” Bates said.
What a bunch of geniuses. Now if only the courts in Georgia had this much sense. And Mr. Attorney General maybe you should check the definition of “delinquency” with which these two kids were charged with.
- From Black’s Law Dictionary (Third Pocket Edition): delinquency, n. 1. A failure or omission; a violation of a law or duty.
- From Juvenile Justice: Policies Programs, and Policies (First Edition): Delinquent act – Any behavior committed by a juvenile that would have been a crime if committed by an adult.
There are other ways to provide services to these two kids than charging them with a crime.
Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ