Proposed changes to Idaho’s statutory rape law that would make consensual sexual contact between 16-year-olds were approved by the Idaho Senate unanimously Monday. The change from Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to have sex with partners up to three years older than them.
Hill said he doesn’t condone premarital sex, but that the current state law is too harsh. “Sometimes our kids still make mistakes, and we pray that those mistakes won’t ruin their lives,” he said. “The last thing we need is for the state to step in and accuse either one of them of being a rapist [and] to guarantee that their lives will be destroyed.” Hill pointed out that all of Idaho’s neighboring states have age of consent for sexual intercourse at 16-years-old. “Still, I felt like there needed to be some protection for those 16- and 17-year-old girls,” he said. He added that the protection wouldn’t apply to teenage boys who are abusive. “If somebody uses force, it’s still rape, regardless of age.”
Sen. Edgar Malepeai, D-Pocatello, a former high school teacher, said he’s dealt with several situations of teenagers accused of statutory rape. “It’s a sad situation in each of those cases when that has happened,” he said. A recent Idaho Department of Education report said that 48 percent of high school seniors have had sex.