Idaho could rewrite its statutory rape laws to exclude relationships between consenting teenagers. The changes would decriminalize sex between teenage girls aged 16 or 17 with partners up to three years older than them. The Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee agreed Wednesday to introduce the legal change introduced by Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg.
“I don’t believe that an 18-year-old boy’s indiscretion with a willing 17-year-old girlfriend ranks up there with the degenerates that rape women,” Hill said. “I was surprised to see it lumped in there with some of the most terrible crimes a person could commit.” Current Idaho rape laws list statutory rape, called sexual penetration when a woman is under 18, alongside other forms of rape. Punishment ranges between one year and a life sentence. “The law itself just didn’t seem right to me. It makes no separation between statutory rape and forcible rape.”
Hill said that he doesn’t condone any form of premarital sex, but doesn’t want Idaho laws to destroy a man’s life because of something stupid he does with his girlfriend. An Idaho Department of Education survey from 2009 showed that 48 percent of high school seniors have had sexual intercourse. The change to state law would allow consensual penetration between 16-year-old girls and boys up to age 19, and 17-year-old girls and boys up to age 20. Sexual acts with children under 16 are punishable by lewd conduct laws. Currently, only men can be prosecuted under Idaho’s rape laws. Hill said only four other states’ rape laws are not gender neutral. Hill’s proposal would change the state’s laws dealing with the rape of men to include a similar age limit.
No senators voted against introducing the plan. Hill said he worked with other lawmakers and law enforcement officials on the changes to the statutory rape law, and said that the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association opposes the plan. The text of Hill's legislation is available here.
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