Molestation and other sex crimes against children

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Background

Molestation is the persecution or harassment of someone, usually performed for a sexual gratification.[1] Closely related is the crime of pedophilia, which is a disorder consisting of a sexual desire for sexual gratification by molesting children.[2]

Model Penal Code

There is no one article under the Model Penal Code that addresses molestation against children. However, molestation of minors is covered under article 213.4, sexual assault. This section provides that a person who has sexual contact with another not his spouse, or causes such other to have sexual contact with him, is guilty of sexual assault if the victim is less than 10 years old or the victim is less than 16 years old and the actor is more than four years older than the victim.[3] It is also sexual assault when the victim is less than 21 years old and the actor is his guardian or otherwise responsible for the victim's welfare.[4] Sexual assault is a misdemeanor.[5] There is also an article that address related sexual offenses such as corruption of minors and seduction. This crime is outlined in article 213.3. Under the Model Penal Code, a male commits the offense of corruption of minors when he has sexual intercourse with a female who is not his wife who a) is under the age of 16 and the male is at least four years older than the other person or b) is less than 21 years old and the actor is his guardian or otherwise responsible for general supervision of his welfare or c) the other person is in custody of law or detained in a hospital or other institution and the actor has supervisory or disciplinary authority over him or d) the other person is a female who is induced to participate by a promise of marriage which the actor does not mean to perform.[6] This crime is a felony in the third degree.[7]

Variation by Jurisdiction

Maryland

Under section 3-602 of the Maryland Criminal Code, a parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for the supervision of a minor may not cause sexual abuse to the minor. Nor may a household member cause the sexual abuse of a minor.[8] Furthermore, the Maryland Criminal Code contains the following provision for all related sex crimes (i.e. rape in the first and second degree, sexual assault, etc.): a person 18 years of age or older may not violate the sexual crime in this section involving a victim who is a child under the age of 13 years.[9] The sections also have a clause that criminalizes sex crimes if the victim is under the age of 14 years, and the person performing the act is at least 4 years older than the victim.[10] In general, a person may not engage in a continuing course of conduct which includes three or more acts that would constitute violations of the rape or sexual assault articles over a period of 90 days or more, with a victim who is under the age of 14 years at any time during the course of conduct.[11] A person who performs this continuing conduct against a child commits a felony which is punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment.[12]

Maine

Under the Maine Criminal Code, section 254, a person commits the offense of sexual abuse of a minor when: a) the person engages in a sexual act with the victim, not the actor's spouse, who is either 14 or 15 years of age and the actor is at least 5 years older than the victim b) the person is at least 21 years of age and engages in a sexual act with the victim, not the actor's spouse, who is either 16 or 17 years of age and is a student enrolled in a private or public elementary, secondary or special education school, facility or institution and the actor is a teacher, employee or other official in the school district, school union, educational unit, school, facility or institution in which the student is enrolled or c) the person intentionally subjects the victim, not the actor's spouse, who is either 14 or 15 years of age to any sexual contact and the actor is at least 10 years older than the victim.[13] In Maine, it is a defense that the actor reasonably believed the victim is at least 16 years of age (this defense, however, does not apply when the actor is a teacher and the victim is a student enrolled in the school at which the actor teaches).[14]

Common Defenses

For sex crimes related to rape, the defendant may use similar defenses to defend against rape allegations. As for molestation or other types of sex crimes specifically against minors, a defendant may have a mistake of age defense, depending on whether or not the statute encompasses the principle of strict liability. Though a mistake of age defense will likely not clear the defendant of the actus reus (or the physical act) of the crime, it may mitigate the punishment the court imposes.

Foreign Jurisdictions

France

Under the French Penal Code, article 222-29, sexual aggressions other than rape are punished by seven years' imprisonment and a fine of € 100,000 where they are committed against minors under the age of 15.[15] Under article 222-24, rape is punished by twenty years' criminal imprisonment when it is committed against a minor under the age of fifteen years.[16]

Canada

The Canadian Criminal Code has several articles that addresses sex crimes against children. The first provision speaks to sexual interference, stating that a person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of fourteen years is guilty of sexual interference.[17] Furthermore, a person who, for a sexual purpose, invites, counsels or incites a person under the age of fourteen years to touch, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, the body of any person, including the body of the person who so invites, counsels or incites and the body of the person under the age of fourteen years, is guilty of the crime of invitation to sexual touching. Both crimes are punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years or by summary conviction.[18] In Canada, there is also an offense for sexual exploitation which states that a person who is in a position of trust or authority towards a young person or is a person with whom the young person is in a relationship of dependency and who a) for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of the young person, or b) for a sexual purpose, invites, counsels or incites a young person to touch, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, the body of any person, including the body of the person who so invites, counsels or incites and the body of the young person is guilty of sexual exploitation.[19] This crime is punishable by 5 years imprisonment or by summary conviction.[20]


See Crimes

Notes

  1. Black's Law Dictionary, 9th Edition (2009)
  2. Black's Law Dictionary, 9th Edition (2009)
  3. Model Penal Code, § 213.4 (2001)
  4. Model Penal Code, § 213.4 (2001)
  5. Model Penal Code, § 213.4 (2001)
  6. Model Penal Code § 213.3 (2001)
  7. Model Penal Code § 213.3 (2001)
  8. Maryland Criminal Code, Title 3, Subtitle 6, § 3-602 (2003)
  9. See Maryland Criminal Code, Title 3, Subtitle 3, §§ 3-303 through 3-306 (2003)
  10. See Maryland Criminal Code, Title 3, Subtitle 3, §§ 3-303 through 3-306 (2003)
  11. Maryland Criminal Code, Title 3, Subtitle 3, § 3-315 (2002)
  12. Maryland Criminal Code, Title 3, Subtitle 3, § 3-315 (2002)
  13. Maine Criminal Code, Part 2, Chapter 11, § 254 (2006)
  14. Maine Criminal Code, Part 2, Chapter 11, § 254 (2006)
  15. http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/html/codes_traduits/code_penal_textan.htm
  16. http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/html/codes_traduits/code_penal_textan.htm
  17. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2014001/article/14008-eng.htm
  18. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2014001/article/14008-eng.htm
  19. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2014001/article/14008-eng.htm
  20. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2014001/article/14008-eng.htm