Blurred Lines

The Delaware County Fair was a few weeks ago, and in the aftermath, a statutory rape accusation that allegedly took place between a 20 year old fair worker and a 14 year old attendee.

In the aftermath of the story breaking in one of the local papers, I happened to remark that it was creepy to think that this happened at the fair…a place that up until then, I felt fairly confident was employed by non predators.

After I made the comment, I was “reminded” that the alleged rape was “statutory”, therefore implied that it wasn’t really a rape because the 14 year old child said yes. Allegedly.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I was 14 I was pretty naive and my self esteem at that point was all but non existent. I’d love to say for sure that I would not be tempted by an older guy paying attention to me, but I very well may have fallen into the same situation. A teenage girl’s psyche is a very delicate thing and the word yes is sometimes, often, the easy word to say when put into a situation that has somehow gotten out of control.

A person’s brain is not developed at 14. It is prone to make rash decisions, that carry dangerous and life altering consequences. At 14, it is difficult to detect those risks in the moment. This is why there are laws against smoking or voting before age 18, why its illegal to drink in the US before 21 (and 18-19 in many other places). This is why there is such thing as an age of consent, here in the US…it’s to try to allow time for brains develop before having to face adult decisions such as deciding whether or not to have sex.

The 14 year old was not mature enough to say yes. The 20 year old, however, was mature enough to know better. Statutory or not, rape is rape.