Friday, May 12, 2006

13 or 18? Girl's age at issue in Web date

13 or 18? Girl's age at issue in Web date - 05/11/06 - The Detroit News

If a minor shows a bartender all the necessary identification proving they're over 18 and the bartender serves them, is the bartender guilty of serving a minor or a victim of fraud?

If you're the register of deeds and someone shows you phony papers intending to commit mortgage fraud, is the register of deeds a co-conspirator or simply an unwitting accomplice?

If a 13-year-old convincingly presents herself as over 16 and has sex with any man , regardless his age, is the man guilty of statutory rape or a victim of fraud?

This is the question Macomb county authorities are groping with after arresting a 25-year-old Indiana man after he picked-up a 13-year-old Harrison Township girl he'd met on the internet. The Detroit News reported Thursday how the sheriff's office is making out:

The man met the teen on the popular Internet site

The girl told him and had on her MySpace Web site that she was 18.

"We're working with both the federal agencies and the prosecutor's office to see what charges will be brought against him," said Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel, who said the man had a disorderly conduct and a drug charge in his past.

It's unclear whether the man will face charges.

Hackel called the girl's Web site "provocative" and "somewhat questionable." A check of the girl's site Wednesday shows she identifies herself as 18. Pictures show her lounging on a couch in torn jeans and a low-cut shirt. The site contained Playboy bunny logos and a vulgar expression.

Today, however, WJR (AM 760) is reporting the girl will be charged with truancy, which exposes the parents to prosecution for negligence. So because of the 13-year-old's poor decisions, two men have been arrested and risk serious charges, the parents risk charges, multiple police agencies scrambled to locate a girl who wasn't kidnapped, the reputation and social value of the internet service MySpace has been sullied, and the meaning of an Amber Alert has been diluted yet again. At this rate, no one is going to pay attention to them anymore.

But the Detroit News' Deb Price is excited because Generation-Y DotNetters, which the 13-year-old represents, is more accepting of gay marriage. It's a little early to celebrate that victory.

Though her parents may ground her until she's 18, truancy seems inadequate for all the problems she created.

As comedian Ron White says, "You can't fix stupid," but there should at least be fines.


  1. You ask: "If a 13-year-old convincingly presents herself as over 16 and has sex with any man , regardless his age, is the man guilty of statutory rape or a victim of fraud?"

    And I honestly believe the question deserves an answer. Must we now do background checks and ask for two pieces of ID before we date?

    It's not a simple situation. I've seen some young teens these days, and they didn't make them like that when I was that age.

  2. It is a very tough question.

    I think it goes back to the old, each situation is different... so let's use the court system and if needed, let's get 12 of our peers to see if there was any wrong doing.

  3. Update:

    Today both men were released and no charges will be brought against them.

    The 13-year-old will be tried for "status truancy", which invites suspicion on the parents and possible charges.

  4. Another update.

    It turns out the girl's mother was smoking pot, the daughter new about it, and that mom had her own MySpace pages announcing to everyone how she smoked as soon as the girl left for school and after mom got home from work.

    Her daughter even wrote an inaugural comment welcoming her mother to MySpace and warning any would-be boyfriends to be nice to her.

    Happy Mother's Day!