A new law has been passed in the General Assembly in South Carolina titled the Sex Offender Accountability and Protection of Minors Act of 2006. The law was originally intended to make life more difficult for pedophiles through harsher sentencing, constant electronic monitoring and the ability to prevent a pedophile from moving into the same neighborhood as the victim and it has done that and much more. The new law provides pedophiles with an incredible loophole in their defense, by allowing the mistake of age clause. The mistake of age clause allows pedophiles to claim they did not know a child was under the legal age to consent to sexual intercourse.
In another unbelievable fact the new law allows 14 year olds to consent to sexual intercourse. The last minute addition to this law allowing the mistake of age clause to slip quietly into the final bill with out allowing any public debate as to the consensual age of sexual intercourse for children makes this law a threat to all underage children living in South Carolina. In other words, an adult having sex with a ten or twelve year old child, who looks older then their actual age can use the mistake of age clause in their defense, claiming they felt the child was 14 or older, thus legally able to consent to sexual intercourse.
Jurors will now have to decide something no juror should be asked to decide: was the sex consensual, based on the victim's age or appearance? As in every molestation or rape case it is imperative to remember the adult is the one responsible for their actions. The adult must be held accountable for knowing whom they are having sex with and there are no acceptable excuses when it comes to having sex with an underage child. In addition, the new law also has a Romeo clause, making it legal for 18 year olds and 14 year olds to have consensual sex.
The law designed to protect minors from pedophiles has failed the children, and given pedophiles an escape clause. Making the decision to have sexual intercourse is incredibly difficult for two consenting adults. Children at age 14 are not developed enough emotionally to make a decision that can impact the rest of their life. The General Assembly of South Carolina made a mistake passing a law which gives pedophiles a loophole to freedom and subsequently the state has failed to protect its children. Who will be there to pick up the pieces of young lives shattered by rape or molestation as the pedophile walks away due to a loophole in the law?