The practical result of the ruling should cheer prosecutors.But the details illustrate, once again, that it is exceedingly difficult to prove a rape charge in American courts.
The jury also found Labrie guilty of misdemeanor sexual assault. These laws are designed to allow teens to engage in consensual sex without fear of prosecution. If you have penetrative consensual sex with an individual between ages 13 and 16 but are within four years of age, you are guilty of Labrie was 18 when he allegedly put his penis, tongue, and finger in a 15-year-old’s vagina.
The jury did not find that the girl resisted, so he isn’t guilty of felony rape.
On Friday, a jury found former New Hampshire prep school student Owen Labrie not guilty of felony rape—but also convicted him of several lesser charges.
At a glance, the complex verdict does not seem to answer the burning question at the heart of the case: Did Labrie, then 18, force a 15-year-old girl to have sex without consent?
Don’t get me wrong, I oppose the prosecution of the Florida teenager referenced in the following articles: Florida Girl, 18, Arrested and Expelled After Relationship With 15-year-old Female Classmate, New York Daily News, May 19, 2013 Florida lesbian, 18, faces 15 years in prison for having sex with 14-year-old high school basketball teammate, Bradenton Herald, May 20, 2013Kaitlyn Hunt's Charges Will Not Be Dropped, Florida State Attorney Says, Broward Palm Beach New Times, May 21, 2013 The reality is that this type of prosecution involving teenagers engaged in sexual activity is common in Florida - outrageous, but common.
The same statute that criminalizes a 60 year old who engages in non-coercive sexual activity with a fifteen year old also criminalizes sexual activity between teenagers if one is less than sixteen years of age.
Some of the articles seem to imply that the prosecution has occurred only because the teenagers are of the same sex.
See for example: Huffington Post report: Florida Teen, Faces Felony Charges Over Same-Sex Relationship As a criminal defense attorney who has practiced law in Gainesville, Florida, for more than 25 years, I’ve represented dozens of teenagers charged with sex offenses for engaging in sexual activity with another teen.
Back in 1970 when I was 20, I fell in love with a wonderful 17-year-old girl.