Law’s Limits: Regulating Statutory Rape Law
Michele Bratcher Goodwin, Law’s Limits: Regulating Statutory Rape Law, 2013 Wis. L. Rev. 481 (2013).
This Article examines statutory rape cases of the last decade and submits that both the apparatus to police sexual violence against minors — statutory rape laws — as well as their application against consenting minors create legally untenable, absurd results that frequently impose legal and extralegal burdens on minors that may exceed that of adult, convicted rapists. No coherent framework has been offered by a politician that responds pragmatically to the empirical realities of adolescent sexuality. Neither federal nor state legislatures offer a coherent, well-articulated approach to militate against the harshest criminal punishments demanded by statutory rape provisions. Indeed, judges interpret and enforce statutory rape cases in a manner that entrenches stereotypes and biases. On the other hand, few scholars wrestle with the broader contemporary applications of statutory rape law despite recent decades of absurd results and disproportionately harsh penalties against teens. The Article offers two novel ways forward to address teen sex and statutory rape.