Age of Consent, Is it 16 or 18? Feb 06, But professionals tasked with wading through the web of laws will tell you it can be difficult to determine when a child is actually a child and when they're able to give consent to sex, even if the relationship is the kind that parents and other adults wouldn't approve of at the outset. That detail was something the teen's therapist was not aware of when the year-old disclosed the relationship in August The boy's father relayed as much to investigators in an interview, according to transcripts and audio recordings in the investigative file.
We're not identifying the therapist, because he was never investigated or charged with failure to report. We're not identifying the parents, because it would inadvertently identify the alleged minor victim.
So he was 16, so I figured by my reading of it, that on its face wasn't illegal so I had no obligation to go forward. The teen's father acknowledged that uncertainty saying, "I wasn't thinking criminal either, because I was thinking the whole time that this sucks because [he] was But after we met with [the therapist], that's when it hit me, I was like, 'Well, she subs over there,' and that puts her in a position of authority.
Even then, the principal was unclear if the law required reporting the relationship. I told him at that point we hadn't met with our attorney. If you don't tell me it's not true,'" the boy's father relayed. But I told him to report what he had heard. A Web of Requirements The basic law is that even though and year-olds are considered children under 18 , at 16 years old an Arkansas teen can consent to have sex. A year-old can also consent to have sex with someone who is no more than 3 years older or younger than him or her.
The same goes for younger teens, though with more variations. But then the law varies even more when you start dealing with younger adolescents, adults in authority, caregivers, sexting or soliciting sex, sending graphic images, and indecent exposure.
Once you start adding in the variations, the law can become a web of what is or isn't allowed -- and that isn't always clear. Tucker has filed a bill to close one loophole in the sexual crime and age laws that have created problems for prosecutors. Those laws made it illegal for, say, a year-old to solicit a teen for sex, while making it legal for them to actually have sex, given a certain age span.
Ultimately, because of her position as a substitute, she was charged with sexual assault. We know of numerous cases where adults are charged with sexually assaulting teens, even and year-olds, but it's only reportable when they reach that age if the alleged offender is a caregiver under the Child Maltreatment protocol , in a position of trust or authority the Criminal Statutes , or uses force or coercion which is always against the law, regardless of age range of the victim.
The law assumes, then, that these teens who are barred because of immaturity from voting, enlisting in the military, or buying cigarettes and alcohol are mature enough to decide to have sex with even a much older adult. What Should Concern You? When do You Report? Despite her years of experience talking with teens about their adult-like relationships, deciphering whether those teens are in danger can be challenging.
Regarding who is required to report, Farst said, the state of Arkansas has a fairly explicit and lengthy list. You can find that list here. Farst, deciding when something has to be reported isn't a simple task, and it can take years of experience learning what the abuse hotline considers for investigation, what it screens out, and why.
And sometimes, they can even be opposed to the idea of reporting, because they assume we're trying to get someone in trouble, when really our concern is protecting them. Farst said healthcare professionals and other mandated reporters have to try and learn about the nature of the relationship by asking the right questions to know if a child is a victim or a consenting participant. Is there anything that has been coercion or manipulation that the adolescent may not even recognize?
Just like the therapist in the Suskie case, professionals have to rely on what the teens are willing to tell them and what they observe to decide if something sinister is afoot. I can't go out and figure out if it's their neighbor or not," Patterson said. Other times, they would make a call to the hotline, where those trained in the ins and outs of the law can offer guidance on whether something is reportable or whether it would be screened out.
The decision to call is not always an easy one, Patterson said, because the therapist has to weigh issues of confidentiality and the impact the notification will have on the therapist's relationship with the patient. Patterson noted that therapists and other reporters often have to make the tough call regardless of those considerations if they believe a child is in danger.
These aren't rules that are just easy to rattle off the top of your head. It took me a lot of experience and calls to the hotline to have a firm grasp of what should or shouldn't be reported. They're the ones who have the most knowledge of what is or isn't reportable under the law.
In the Suskie case, mandated reporters eventually called the hotline multiple times, according to the interviews with the teens parents in the file, and those reporters were tasked with obtaining more details before investigators got involved.
Suskie maintained she never had a sexual relationship with the teen. She did plead guilty to misdemeanor indecent exposure and landed on the sex offender and child maltreatment registries, according to court documents.