Statutory Rape

WE ARE NAPA COUNTY

District Attorney's OfficeGary Lieberstein, District Attorney

Gary Lieberstein

Statutory Rape

Sexuality occurs between two people who share mutual respect and intimacy, and there is a shared acknowledgment of each other as a person. Statutory Rape is based on manipulation and exploitation of the victim, not respect and intimacy.

What is statutory rape?

Statutory rape is unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor (under 18 years of age), who is not the spouse of the perpetrator.

Why prosecute statutory rape?

 In 1994 more than 70,000 teens gave birth in the State of California. The misconception is that the teens become pregnant by peers. However, men over 20 years old are responsible for five times as many births among junior high girls as are junior high boys. Men over 20 years old are two and a half times more responsible for births among high school girls as high school boys. In 70% of the cases of teen mothers becoming pregnant by males over 21, the relationships end before the birth. The teens have to seek financial aid from the state. These teen families cost the state between $5 to $7 billion each year. It costs more than $10,000 for each teen pregnancy, childbirth and medical care throughout the first year.

Do we prosecute every case?

No. We evaluate each case independently to determine if criminal charges are appropriate.

What is being done to decrease teen births and the cost to the state?

California has the highest teen birth rate in the nation. Governor Wilson started the Statutory Rape Vertical Prosecution Program to combat this problem. This aggressive program will hopefully start to decrease the number of teens that are becoming pregnant by adult males. By making these males responsible both financially and criminally, the number of teens giving birth will be decreased and the cost to the state for these families will in turn start to be reduced.

Who becomes involved with older males?

Teens become involved in relationships with older males for a variety of reasons. Two major reasons are due to lack of communication between the teen and the parents, and the teen has been sexually abused in the past.

When there is a lack of communication between the parents and the teen, the teen looks for someone who will listen to them and who can relate to what they are going through. Because these girls are vulnerable and looking for support, the males start off being their friend then manipulate the relationship into a sexual one before the girls realize what is happening.

Research shows that the other large factor of teens becoming mothers is 66% or more have been sexually abused prior to becoming pregnant. Such mistreatment may lead to many of the teens believing that they have little or no ability to make decisions that will have a positive effect in this life.  Males often manipulate teens into a sexual relationship by exploiting feelings of low self-esteem. These teens are usually in violent relationships and become victims of domestic violence.

Some adult males are actually seeking out younger girls to have sexual relationships because they believe these girls have had fewer, if any, prior sexual relationships and the threat of contracting AIDS or sexually transmitted diseases is less. The males are less likely to use condoms and do not bother to ask the girls if they are using any birth control, thus the girls become pregnant. Also, the statistics for teens becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS are on the rise.

What are we doing in Napa County about these cases?

Statutory rape cases are aggressively prosecuted in the county. If you know of a teen that is involved in a sexual relationship with an older adult, or an adult who is involved with a teen, contact your local law enforcement agency.