TEENS HAVE RIGHT TO HAVE SEX, LAWYER ARGUES

Autor: Jamaal Abdul-Alim Fuente: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

When an Oak Creek woman found her 14-year-old daughter nude in the woman's bed with a 14-year-old boy, the teens didn't strike her as being overly concerned.
"They both freely admitted that their intention was to 'have sex,' " records quote the woman as saying. They "were confrontational and remorseless."
The teens even "challenged" the woman to call police. So she did.
Now, the couple's would-be sexual encounter in October has both of them facing serious criminal charges.
Their case takes a course through the intersection of morals and law, a bustling crossroads at a time when sexuality has become a greater focus of youth culture. While authorities say their prosecution is meant to help, not punish, the teens, a lawyer for one of them contends 14-year-olds have a right to privacy that allows them to consent to sex with each other, and has challenged the constitutionality of the law.
The boy is being held in secure detention on a charge of attempted second-degree sexual assault, a felony that carries a possible juvenile prison term.
The girl pleaded guilty to fourth degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor, but is charged with violating her probation; a warrant has been issued for her arrest.
Neither is being named because of their ages.
Don Linke, the boy's attorney, argues that children's privacy rights include the right to make "important decisions."
"One of those types of decisions is whether to engage in sexual relations," says Linke, who will argue his position today at Milwaukee County Children's Court. If Circuit Judge Tom Donegan rules against Linke, the case could go to trial.
But prosecutors say children have no right to have sex.
"Sex between kids is not legal," said Assistant District Attorney Lori Kornblum, who is prosecuting the case.
According to the law, "Whoever has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who has not attained the age of 16 is guilty of a Class C felony." There is no mention of consent.
Linke suggests the statute is intended to prevent older teenagers or adults from abusing or exploiting younger, more vulnerable children, not to prohibit consensual sex among teenagers.
Kornblum said that while many instances of consensual sex among minors get handled informally, she felt compelled to bring charges in this case.
"The reason I charged this case was because of their attitude," Kornblum says. "I believe they had to be brought before an authority."
Not to punish the children, she said, but to help them through various court-ordered services.
Linke says there are other ways for the court to intervene without the children having to be found delinquent, such as filing a petition for protection or services.
Beyond the teenagers' sexual activity lurk a host of other problems.
Court records reveal that both come from troubled backgrounds and struggle with the same issues, such as attention deficit disorder and parental abandonment.
Prosecutors did try to cut the teens some slack.
The boy - originally charged in October - secured a "deferred prosecution agreement" in March. All he had to do was stay out of trouble until Aug. 6 and the charge would have been dismissed. But not long after the agreement, his father reported that the boy "refuses to follow rules." That prompted prosecutors to reissue the charge.
The girl - who was not given deferred prosecution because all parties involved agreed she needed services - was placed on probation, and ordered into Wraparound, a monitoring and treatment program designed to help emotionally disturbed youths at home instead of at costlier institutions.
But after she repeatedly spent the night out without permission, a warrant was issued for her arrest Aug. 5.
It could not be determined Wednesday if she had yet been arrested.
http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/aug03/163688.asp
 
 
 
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