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.