A Chicago man is fighting charges in Iowa after he allegedly had sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl. The man claimed that the parents permitted the sexual contact between him and their daughter and thus should not be charged with a crime. However, consent is not a factor in statutory rape cases, and a parent cannot consent on behalf of a child to permit a crime to be committed against them. A judge informed the defendant of this fact and refused to dismiss charges against him related to unlawful sexual contact.
Age of Consent: How Does it Work?
The vast majority of states do not have a single age of consent but rather age differentials that are considered unlawful. Iowa has an age of consent of 16 which means that anyone over the age of 16 can consent to sex. This girl was 15. However, Iowa’s minimum age is 14 which means that an individual who is 14 years of age or older can consent to have sex with anyone who is within four years of their age. In this case, the defendant was 27 at the time of the alleged unlawful sexual contact, so the statute would not apply to him and the charges would still be actionable.
In Illinois, the age of consent is 17 and the minimum age is 17. In other words, someone under the age of 17 cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse with anyone under any circumstances.
Legal Age to Marry
The legal age to marry is 18 in most states. But what if you have the parent’s consent? Then the number goes down to 16. In many states that have such laws, the legal age for girls to marry is significantly lower than for boys. In Massachusetts, a girl can be married with parental consent at as low as 12 years of age. Only Nebraska has a higher legal age to marry than 18; it is 19. Nonetheless, most Americans are waiting to get married until their mid to late 20s, if ever.
These rules were based on archaic models of marrying off girls so that the family did not have to support them anymore. In most cases, a 35-year-old man attempting to marry a 12-14-year-old girl would find it difficult to find a court willing to sign off on a marriage license even if the parents were willing to stand in front of the court and give permission for the marriage.
Nonetheless, it does beg the question. Could a married man have sex with his minor wife if the parents signed off on the marriage? Generally, rape laws do not apply between spouses. This is a problem under the law. Generally speaking, under old laws, rape crimes were not crimes against women, but the men in their lives. Traditionally, sex out of wedlock could be considered rape. The crime was against the father or the husband who had control of the woman. Hence, a husband could not rape his wife. Today, the crime of rape is seen as a crime against the woman. But the law is slow to catch up with evolving mores.
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