Tuesday, July 27, 2010


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.



Charles Gramlich said...

I've heard of cases like this. I was a bit worried when Josh turned 18 and his girlfriend was still 17. It is ridiculous at some point. Goes to show that laws are really about black and white while the real world has umpteen shades of gray.

Angie said...

Charles -- I was a bit worried when Josh turned 18 and his girlfriend was still 17.

I've heard of cases like that, where two teenagers are having sex, maybe for years, then the guy turns 18 and the girl's angry father decides that now's his chance to get the perv who despoiled his little girl. :/ It's ridiculous -- if it was okay (in a legal sense) for them to be having sex a year ago, then it's just as okay now. But there are plenty of guys on the sex offender registry for exactly this situation, many of whom are now married to the woman they supposedly "preyed upon."

laws are really about black and white while the real world has umpteen shades of gray

That's exactly it. [nod] In this zero-tolerance era, no one wants to have to think, or consider the individual situation before making a judgement or deciding on punishment. Being able to say you have "zero tolerance" for some type of infraction sounds so good in the marketing copy, whether you're selling something or courting voters or seeking funding. And from a legal standpoint, authorities who apply the same harsh punishment to every single similar case provides a defense against lawsuits -- It wasn't my decision; I was just following policy to the letter." [sigh]

Add in the moralists who'd love to punish everyone who has sex out of wedlock, and you end up with this kind of self-righteous garbage masquerading as justice on a frustratingly regular basis.


Suzan Harden said...

Actually those moralists who want to punish everyone for having sex (and *gasp* enjoying it) are the main reason behind a lot of these zero-tolerence laws.

Makes you wonder about these people, doesn't it?

Angie said...

Suzan -- sure, although there are zero-tolerance laws and rules in a lot of areas that have nothing to do with sex. But the reason so many of the laws and rules which do have to do with sex are so strict and rigid is, I agree, that the moralists think shrugging and saying, "Well, they shouldn't have been having sex, then" solves any problem, and relegates the people who have those problems to dirty sinners who deserve whatever happens to them.


Whitni said...

The registry to me has become a form of black listing and in some cases an all out witch hunt and to me, has failed to serve it's intended purpose. How many prison sentences have been overturned where innocent people were convicted of committing rape? And how many true sexual predetors were released only to commit their crimes again? Your life can be ruined for making a bad choice. I wish the registry really did some good. I'm just not a big fan of it when an infraction gets you on it as well as a major crime.

Angie said...

Whitni -- I agree. It might've started out as a good idea, or at least a hopeful idea, but the form it's evolved into seems to cause more harm than good. :/


Vegetarian Cannibal said...

As someone who works with rape victims on a regular basis, I cannot help but agree with you, Angie. Two kids having sex does not BEGIN to cover the "serious stuff" like incest, forced child pornography, sexual assault on the disabled, and gang rapes or date rape drugs.

I mean, c'mon!

When it comes to sex, people in America really have it wrong. They like to point their fingers at everyone but the real offenders.

In this country, you can brutally rape and torture a woman and get off with just 2yrs in jail (if ANY at all!) The rape victim is BLAMED for the offense. It goes back to male privilege, really. RAINN likes to point out the statistical numbers of VICTIMS...but what about the offenders?

If 1 in 4 girls are sexually assaulted/abused before they turn 18 you can logically conclude 1 in 4 MEN (and I say men because only 2% of rapists are female) are raping or sexually assaulting these girls! But no one goes after those guys. Nooooo, that would make too much sense!

It's much easier to go after two teenagers having consensual sex. After all, teen sex is the real hot-button issue that threatens the very fabric of our core American Christian values.


Angie said...

VC -- I agree that too many people in this country would rather point fingers of shame at the people who are having sex because they want to, than actually go after the violent predators. Putting kids like Ricky through the system is a waste of public resources IMO, resources much better spent tracking and arresting and prosecuting the true criminals.

If 1 in 4 girls are sexually assaulted/abused before they turn 18 you can logically conclude 1 in 4 MEN (and I say men because only 2% of rapists are female) are raping or sexually assaulting these girls!

Humm. Is that really accurate? I would think that someone who raped once, especially if he got away with it, would be more likely to go on to rape other people. So if 1 in 4 women have been raped, then the number of rapists would be less than 1 in 4 men. The even numbers only works if each rapist only ever preys upon one victim.

It's still too many, though. :/


Vegetarian Cannibal said...

You probably have a point about the numbers being less for offenders. We don't know as there hasn't been an ACCURATE study on that number. And it's not the politically-correct number to research, anyway. (Ask any non-profit and they'll tell you!) You're right in that many rapists/abusers target multiple victims if they can get away with their first.

However the 1/4 is accurate for girls. For boys, it's 1/10. These numbers could be higher as soooooo many people do not report rape when it happens. It's still very much a taboo.


*sigh* Makes me sad.

Angie said...

VC -- definitely true on the under-reporting. [nod] I think a lot of people would be shocked if we had any way of knowing the true totals. And a lot of other people would immediately start coming up with excuses and apologetics and counter-attacks. :/


laughingwolf said...


can't legislate against stupidity, for kids or 'adults' GRRRRRRRRR

good his ma had the necessary intelligence to seek equally intelligent courts...

Angie said...

LW -- seriously, he's very lucky in his mother. [nod] It's just a shame he needed to be.


writtenwyrdd said...

I think some places have a saner approach where if the kids are within say a year in age ot thereabouts it isn"t prosecutable as statutory rape. But it can be taken to ridiculous extremes like this one, where zero justice is served...in fact, the opposite!

Bernita said...

His inclusion destroys the value of such a registry to my mind.

Angie said...

WW -- yes, that's certainly a much more reasonable approach. [nod] There's a huge difference between a sixteen-year-old having sex with a thirteen-year-old, and a forty- or thirty- or even twenty-year-old having sex with that same thirteen-year-old. Putting a minor on the registry ignores that completely.

Bernita -- yes, exactly. And he's by no means an isolated data point, which means there's been a lot of destruction of that value.