By now, the storyline is all too familiar: A longstanding celebrity falls from grace after allegations of sexual misconduct come to light. The latest alleged predator may never have been an angel in the public eye, but the scope and extent of the allegations have still proven shocking, drawing public ire and backlash around the globe.
Avoiding charges of sexual assault or rape in North Carolina becomes much easier when one understands what the legal definitions are in the state.
Did you know that you could be convicted of a sex crime even if both parties were consenting? In cases of statutory rape, one person is younger than the legal age of consent, which means that they are not legally permitted to have sex -- even though they may have agreed to do so. Statutory rape is different from all other sex crimes because it does not necessarily involve violence, force or coercion. As a consequence, many young people find themselves in legal hot water in North Carolina simply because they engaged in a sex act with someone who was underage.
Leaving the state doesn't mean leaving behind outstanding criminal charges. A Charlotte man was recently arrested in New York on three outstanding warrants related to sex crimes allegations here in North Carolina.
The first thing that we need to get straight here is that a charge alone of statutory rape or other sex offense will not land you in prison. You may be in jail for a short time until bond is posted, but a charge is not the same as a conviction, so the easy answer is no, a statutory rape charge does not mean a prison sentence.
After meeting a 14-year-old girl at ImaginOn in Charlotte, a 40-year-old North Carolina man reportedly lured her to a nearby hotel room with promises of alcohol and is now facing statutory rape and indecent liberties charges, two counts of each sex offense. According to police, Stephen Ward also photographed his encounter with the teenage girl and admitted to snapping at least 15 photos that were sexual in nature of the young female.
The current sex offender registry system is flawed. Otherwise consensual sex punishable as statutory rape or the possession and distribution of "child pornography" that sexting between teens has been come to be viewed as can land a teenager on the list for a term of year up to life.
A teenage couple in Florida is making news because of their ages: one is 18 and the other is 14. The 18-year-old, Kaitlyn Hunt is facing criminal sex offense charges of lewd and lascivious assault on a minor based on a sexual relationship she had with a 14-year-old classmate. Hunt is facing registration as a sex offender if convicted of the underage sex crime.
Explicit photos on the cell phone of a teenage girl resulting in sex offense charges against two North Carolina men. The girl's father found the images and alerted police, which eventually led to an investigation by the Rowan County Sheriff's Office.
An 18-year-old high school senior served a year in jail for having sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend. The young couple lived in Michigan, where the age of consent is 16. The senior, Ken Thornsberry, was convicted of statutory rape despite the sex act(s) being consensual between the two teens.