By D. J. Webb
NB This article is not intended the sway the Jury in any case presently before the courts, but is a purely abstract discussion of how to approach issues related to the age of consent.
I have to register my distaste with the legal case against Adam Johnson, a 28-year-old footballer, or ex-footballer now, with Sunderland, who kissed a 15-year-old and denies doing more than that, although the girl now says otherwise.
Who cares? Why is this man being persecuted? He is not a dirty old man in a rain mac hanging round schoolchildren. He is actually a footballer in his physical prime, actively sought out by girls well past the biological onset of puberty. How could anyone believe that this girl was anything other than lucky to score him?
It is a little surprising that he didn’t know the legal age of consent was 16 and forensic experts — clearly without major cases to solve — have examined his computer and determined he searched Google to find out. Surely everyone knows the age is 16? And if the police in his area do not enforce a prohibition against sex between 15-year-olds, there is no good reason for hauling him over the coals either.
The Telegraph today states the jury in the case were handed photographs of Johnson’s “groin area” found on his phone, as if titillating the jury plays any part in handing down a just verdict. This in itself is an abuse of any due process. The spitefulness of all of this seems to come down to a certain amount of jealousy among the police and prosecutors, most of whom would like to have nearly-16-year-old girls throw themselves at them.
We need to bring in considerations of 1) the likelihood that a child/young woman of her age will be engaged in sex: most 15-year-olds are at it, whereas 13- and 14-year-olds are less likely to be. She’s not beyond any meaningful capacity to give consent. Courts should rule, if necessary, based on real capacity to give consent, and not on some arbitrary age. A mentally handicapped 20-year-old might be deemed incapable, whereas nearly all 15-year-olds would be capable. The age of consent should not be set in law, but determined by case law based on prevailing sexual habits of the age cohort concerned: “15-year-old has sex” is not a shocking news flash, so 15 cannot be considered too young. Any police investigation would probably find all the other girls of 15 in her school have also had sex…
2) The status and attractiveness of the man is relevant too. He’s not exactly handsome, but an overweight 50-year-old loser and a fit 28-year-old high-earning footballer are two different kettles of fish — realistically speaking, girls would be queuing up for a quickie with him.
He does not fit my definition of a “groomer”: a paedophile who seeks out vulnerable children to befriend with the aim of coaxing them into sex. This man isn’t even a paedophile! He didn’t groom the girl at all: if anything, she groomed him.
I have to agree that the law seems to treat, as equivalent, a case between a man and a 10 year old, and a man and a girl of 15 years and 364 days. As with trials of rape, it seems to be all or nothing, and woe betide the man who says that some rapes are less heinous than others. But on the case of the age of consent, I think it’s right that there is a defined age. Perhaps under that age, the onus could be on the defendant to prove that the young person has informed consent. No cut off age can be exactly right in all cases, or even in most cases. I’m sure there are 14 year olds with sufficient maturity to be able to fully consent; and I know for a fact that there are people in their 20s who lack the maturity to do so.
This seems a reasonable approach to take.
This is obviously ridiculous, but part of the current Sex Panic we are going through, primarily stoked up by the feminist movement; for whom all responsibility always lies solely with men. It is always ignored that the age of criminal responsibility is 10, which means that this young lady could be charged with commissioning a criminal act.
As to looking up the age of consent, it is possibly because it is not as clear as it used to be, since in some circumstances it is 18.
This is the problem when people ignore physical reality. 15 is not childhood in sexual terms. If it is, I should be arrested for numerous acts of sexual abuse which I perpetrated on myself before my 16th birthday.
Not just feminists, but moralizers of all stripes, including old-fashioned evangelical ones. Good point about her being old enough to be held criminally responsible.
The law cannot substitute for moral education, but the welfare state doesn’t help, since it trains people to avoid responsibility for their actions.
It is worth noting also that according to official statistics, about 1/3 or current Britons lost their virginity before the legal age of consent.
If they lose their virginity to someone in their age cohort, which seems likely, then there isn’t a legal issue.
And that is why the law and hysteria is so weird. Why is sex only harmful if it’s with somebody older? What the statistic demonstrates is that sexual activity is commonplace and normal among teenagers.
He’s not the only victim of hysteria against footballers. Look at the Ched Evans case.
Well, he’s been found partially guilty and the judge has gleefully declared that the book will be thrown at him.
The interesting part perhaps of this is that in the “victim statement”, it is clear that the girl’s trauma and distress was not caused by the sexual encounter, but by her getting drunk, telling friends, and it then becoming gossip and her being “shamed” on the internet.
He was obviously foolish to do this, but talk of “paedophilia” and “grooming”, in which the Daily Mail is of course wallowing as usual, is ridiculous. A girl gives a footballer a BJ (or not, whatever), boasts to he friends about it, then when it gets on the gossip mill she suddenly turns into a “groomed child”. It’s absurd.
I don’t have an enormous degree of sympathy for him, since he knew the consequences and should have controlled himself. But human sexual emotions are very powerful, and we should take that into account. It’s easy to say someone should control themselves when one is not, like them, in a position where desirable women are throwing themselves at one all the time. It is well known that there are some young women for whom attempting to bag footballers and other celebrities is a way of life. Still, he really should have known better.
Yes, Ian. And the judge is thinking of 4-10 years in prison!! There is little reason why one person gets sent down for a year for a major crime and a minor crime attracts a long sentence – all this brings the law into disrepute. If he had been a Muslim, things would have been different, I fear….
Not everyone on the Mail’s payroll agrees with that paedomanic nonsense: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3480476/KATIE-HOPKINS-away-rope-Adam-Johnson-broke-law-girl-knew-EXACTLY-doing-s-not-paedophile-doesn-t-deserve-prison-Twitter-lynching.html
It seems female detective have quotas to fulfil and are encouraging cranks who previously would be given a cup of tea and warned not to waste police time. My colleague is at present doing 150 hours of community work after being fined £15,000 by a judge who believed a lying 35 year woman that she was a traumatised victim of assault in a gallery. She was never cross questioned as to how this could have happened when another person was in the immediate vicinity.
This person stated he had neither seen nor heard any assault or cries from the alleged victim. a beefy woman he had talked to minutes earlier and who was only 10 steps distant.