46-year-old priest (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) as once a respected and loved priest in Davis, now he’s in the process of putting his life back together. Not long ago, in May of this year, he was accused of having inappropriate sexual relations with a female teenager who was one of his trusting parishioners. He was charged with 3 separate felony counts of statutory rape that the victim said happened in various places over about 8 months of time. He has recently pled guilty to these charges and been sentence to 90 days in jail, a short sentence considering.
Statutory rape (CA Penal Code 261.5) is a very specific crime. It’s unlike forcible rape in the sense that even if the sexual intercourse seems to be consensual, it is not considered so by law because of the younger person’s status as a minor (under the age of 18). This is because it is assumed that a person under the age of 18 cannot make decisions as to the persons they will have sexual intercourse with, at least not the same way that an adult can. Usually, there is some debate concerning statutory rape cases. For example, if a 17-year-old girl is dating an 18-year-old teen and they have sexual intercourse, then that could also be considered statutory rape, even though there is little age difference between them. If the parents get involved, the consequences for the person who is older could be dire.
People think differently about a man who is 46 dating a girl under the age of 18. The law treats them differently as well. Statutory rape is a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that it is up to prosecutors to determine, under the specific circumstances of the case, whether to charge the accused with a misdemeanor or a felony. The age of the accused is a significant factor, if the accused is under the age of 21, then they will usually be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if the accused is over the age of 21 and the minor in question is 16 years of age or younger, then they may end up serving up to 4 years in state prison. Conviction on charges of felony statutory rape could also end in a $10,000 fine.