TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Monday, October 16, 2006

MySpace Update - Statutory Rape Law Asserted to be Unconstitutional

Pete Solis, the individual defendant in the lawsuit claiming that MySpace was negligent for failing to confirm ages, has apparently moved to dismiss the statutory rape charges against him, asserting that statutory rape laws violate equal protection.  I cannot imagine that such a defense hasn't already been presented (and rejected) in the past, but hey, I'm not a crim law guy.

Update: Local Austin radio has another story laying out the argument in a bit more detail.

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You don't have to be a crimlaw guy: age is not a suspect class for equal protection purposes and is therefore only subject to rational basis review.

Is allowing a minor to void a contract an equal protection violation? Of course not.

And even if statutory rape were somehow subject to heightened scrutiny, "protecting minors for sexual predators" is undoubtedly a compelling state interest.

What is problematic are different age of consent laws for males and females, or punishing homosexual statutory rape differently from heterosexual (see, e.g., the recent Limon case in Kansas)

What's more intriguing, and one for the crimlaw (and torts) guys, is statutory rape's sui generis status as a strict liability felony.

Posted by: KipEsquire | Oct 16, 2006 2:41:31 PM

There was a California case that went up on appeal to the US Supreme Court in the 1980's (if I recall correctly). The issue there was that statutory rape laws were unconstitutional because they only protected the females who were underage. As I recall, the Supreme Court upheld those laws as not being violative of equal protection.

Posted by: Bill | Oct 16, 2006 5:17:29 PM

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