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A Critical (Non-Dershowitz) Look at Statutory Rape Laws

[ – 8/13/19]

Last week, Jeffrey Epstein died in jail, apparently a suicide. The prior month, he was arrested on federal sex trafficking charges related to his and other men’s conduct with girls as young as fourteen. Most spectators to the very public humiliation that might have driven him to suicide, judged him very harshly. Epstein, in his mid-60s, had apparently slept with young girls and procured their services for some of his rich (and old) friends as well, allegedly including Epstein’s former lawyer, Harvard Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz (currently age 80). (Professor Dershowitz denies the charge, which is the subject of a defamation suit.) What united the reactions of everyone I heard discussing the story, at least prior to his sudden death, was an overwhelming emotion: disgust.

After noticing the disgust associated with Epstein, I started seeing it everywhere. I described the developing case to one of my teenage daughters, and an unmistakable look came over her face. That is just gross, it said. Epstein had seemingly harmed us all by placing an unwanted and revolting image in our minds.

Why does disgust matter?

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Join the discussion

  1. Jack

    Barry Goldwater had a lot of crazy ideas, but he was right about one thing. “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

  2. JohnDoeUtah

    My victim has had issues with this over the last few years. She was a teen, I was in my early, early 20s. We now have a 14 year-old son. However, even to this day we are close, very close. We were together for a while after I got out of jail. But, she began getting constant pressure from CPS (which I fought and won and have parental rights), then her family, friends, and just about everyone else. Now as a nearly 30-year old woman, her therapist even questions her decision to keep me in her and our son’s life.

    They try to put her in into their box as a victim, a perpetual victim, who can’t see me for who I really am in their box: a predator. It drives her nuts. She even started lying about her age when talking to our son’s friend’s parents because people would do the math in their heads, and then treat her like she was damaged. When she tried to explain she was not the “victim” they would shun her and tell her that they were no longer comfortable with our kids being friends.

    And, at certain points she has distanced herself, although never our child, due to the pressure from others to treat me like a villain. She knows what happened between us, she was there, and “it wasn’t like what they are trying to make you out to be.” We have gotten to the point that most of her family is settled on the fact that I am in her and our son’s life, and that I am a good dad. But, strangers always treat her like she in unfit, mentally damaged, because I am in her life in a big way.

    • Timmmy

      What is odd is, the press was celebrating the marriage of a 15 year old girl to that 50 year old dude who won one of the seasons of “Survivor.” Seems to be hypocrisy everywhere.

  3. Jack

    Well John, I can’t help but think her status as her father’s property under the law is what is at work here. Doesn’t change reality though. Such is the legacy of the social purity movement.

  4. Eric

    I must agree, there is something rather uncomfortable or unnatural for a person in advanced years to have sex with a teenager. However, I had a yahoo account for a while and it would open up to the AP Yahoo news page each time I logged on. A few years back, as Kylie Jenner was 16 going on seventeen Yahoo seemed obsessed with her turning 18, and for a year prior to that, nearly every day they had pictures of her in underwear or swim wear. Of course it had a thumbnail and to see the images you had to click on the thumb nail. Now, they would not have done this nearly every day for over a year if hundreds of thousands of people weren’t clicking on these thumbnails. So I am a little suspicious about all these people so “disgusted” with the thought. And I don’t think it is just men involved with this, so hold on #Metoo, because we saw that Epstein had a few adult women involved in this trafficking business.

    I know that when I was in court the judge and DA were deriding me for such disgusting acts (looking at images) and you could sense the groans of disdain from everyone in the court. Yet, I just saw an article by a health organization that said last year alone, one of the major adult porn sites had 30 billion hits. Yes, I wrote that correctly, 30 billion. So I have a hunch that more than a few of those self-righteous zealots in the court room had a little secret. Perhaps the judge herself. If 30 billion people are watching it, I have to ask myself, then who isn’t occasionally viewing it.

    I do believe our society as a whole is in total denial about our human sexuality. Yes, it is wrong to have sex with young people, only because they may not have the mental capacity to understand the lifetime effects it can have. But to vilify people for something we are hardwired for is insane. A hundred years ago in this country it was normal to have a very young bride.

    Epstein didn’t appear to be a pedophile, as we hear over and over. Pedophilia is the attraction to prepubescent children. He had an attraction to very young girls, but they were sexually mature by nature, not by societal standards. What he allegedly did was criminal, immoral, and unethical, and outright rotten. But to say it is disgusting to be attracted to someone under 18, well, I think we have some work to do in our puritanical society.

    • someone who cares

      Eric ~ Well said. I personally don’t get the hype about teenage sexual activity. How many parents take their “kids” to doctors to get them on the pill if they weren’t suspecting sexual curiosity. If I see a 16 year old, I don’t see a child. I see a growing adult who is driving on our dangerous freeways. If they are old enough to drive, they are mentally capable of making adult decisions in my opinion. If they can’t make adult decisions at that age, then they are a danger to everyone around driving on the same streets as these children whose brains have not fully developed. Just my 2 cents.

      • AJ

        …and yet these same “kids” are advocating for the right to vote because they’re mature and understand the issues. And some places are trying to grant it ( Sadly, for them, that pesky Constitution and its Amendments get in the way of this “progress.”

        • JM

          I am so sick and disgusted by all of this. Why is it okay for the female teens to go naked at the beach or public pools (Well, in my opinion naked) Just a string up there b***! Back in the day (my days) the parents are the ones who would be prosecuted, not the men who looked at them.
          My grandparents were the pillars of their community. Yet, they married when my grandmother was 14 and her first child was born at age 15.
          In Epstein’s case, does anyone know if he actually had sex with anyone under 16? And, wasn’t the age of consent 16 at that time in New York? I do recall that back in 2004, there were some states that the age of consent was still 14, while most others were 15/16.

        • CR

          @AJ, the 26th amendment says

          “The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.”

          I’m not a constitutional scholar or a lawyer, but I don’t see a bar to lowering the voting age in the wording of the 26th amendment. It doesn’t say that the United States or a state cannot grant the right to vote to those who are under 18. It just says that neither may deny or abridge it to those who are of that age. So the right to vote may be denied or abridged to those under 18, but the 26th doesn’t seem to require that.

        • AJ

          You’re correct as to the letter of the Amendment, but when coupled with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, and SCOTUS Opinion (and probably congressional notes and minutes of discussion on the Statute and Amendment), things shift a bit. In Oregon v. Mitchell (, SCOTUS said the, “18-year-old minimum-age requirement of the Voting Rights Act Amendments is valid for national elections.” Note that wording of “minimum-age requirement.” That says everything regarding Congress’ intent regarding minimum ages and the Court’s view of both intent and practice–both of which would have to be in agreement with the 14th Amdt, Section 2. However, the Court found the VRA, and any congressional legislation covering elections, can only apply to national (federal) elections–good old dual sovereignty again. What the 26th did was force that same concept onto the States, too.

          As to your reading of the 26th, that logic would mean Section 2 of the 14th Amendment also never set a minimum voting age, just that those 21 and older couldn’t have it trampled upon. That clearly was neither practice nor intent then, and it assuredly was not the intent of the 26th Amdt. This is reinforced by verbiage from the above Opinion where the Court talks about Congress being authorized, “to lower the voting age.” Indeed, the Opinion discusses at length Congress’ power over and control of voting processes–as long as applied only to national elections. The Court talked about Congress’ power to decide who is disenfranchised and who is not–thus settling the Equal Protection claim someone under 18 may try to make today. The only way to force that lower age–to move the “enfranchisement line”–upon both federal and State elections was to put it in the Constitution, which is what happened.

        • CR

          Thanks for the thorough history lesson, AJ. I gain valuable knowledge from you, as usual.

  5. NPS

    Let’s not forget that they can be charged as adults for violent and/or serious felonies (in California the lowest age is 14 to be charged as an adult). Apparently they have the mental capacity to engage in actions that cause harm to other people, but don’t have that same mental capacity to engage in sexual activity.

  6. Eric Knight

    On only has to reference a show called “Euphoria” to know this argument is full of rotten spaghetti sauce.

  7. Notorious D.I.K.

    “Sex offender” hysteria is driven almost entirely by disgust. When I was young, the disgust openly expressed for gay men and boys was out-in-the-open and unmodulated. Now, all of those expressions of disgust are directed to the “sex offender.”

    This is all about base, primitive atavistic hatreds and appetites.

    The ill-formed “power imbalance” argument is rationalizing this hysteria and giving an excuse to indulge in and glorify these base responses.

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