Ricky Blackman was put on the sex offender registry — where he was “designated the highest level of risk possible” — for having consensual sex with a 13-year-old girl, who’d claimed she was fifteen, when he himself was sixteen. Now, color me silly, but it seems to me that the “highest level of risk possible” should be reserved for forcible rape, not merely statutory rape, regardless of the ages of the people involved. No matter how wrong it is for someone to have sex with an underage person, it’s worse if they force it, right? So if the highest level of risk is applied to consensual sex, what’s left for the actually violent rapists?

And seriously, this was two teenagers having sex. We’re not talking about some creepy forty-year-old luring little girls with candy. :/ The whole point of designating people under a certain age as minors is to indicate that our culture believes they’re not yet old enough to take full responsibility for their actions — that’s what “minor” means, after all. So this sixteen-year-old minor was lied to by a younger girl, and did something he had no reason to believe was wrong. Maybe he should have stood back and coldly analyzed the situation and… what? Asked to see her ID? What if she’d had fake ID? Grown men have been convicted of statutory rape when the young woman they were with had fake ID saying she was over eighteen. So what should he have done?

The moralists would say he shouldn’t have been having sex at all. That’s not realistic, though, nor helpful, nor is it any kind of justice to put a minor on the sex offender registry for succumbing to his hormones with a willing young woman he believed was old enough. Punish him, sure — some sort of education, community service, anything like that would’ve been appropriate. But even the young woman’s parents weren’t interested in prosecuting Ricky, given the circumstances. And yet the DA decided that it’s justice to ruin a young man’s life for having consensual sex with a young woman only three years younger, whom he thought was only one year younger.

In Ricky’s case, justice was eventually served and his name was taken off the registry through his mother’s diligent efforts. This kind of crap happens regularly, though, and there are plenty of people still on the list who should never have been put there. The value of the registry as a list of truly dangerous sexual predators is compromised to worthlessness when young people like Ricky are added.

Thanks to Free-Range Kids for linking to this.


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Angela Benedetti lives in Seattle with her husband and a few thousand books. She loves romance for the happy endings, for the affirmation that everyone who's willing to fight for love deserves to get it and be happy with someone. She's best known for her Sentinel series of novels, the most recent of which is Captive Magic.