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Although there is no public talk of prosecution, and much of the case would depend on where and when the sexual activity took place, onlookers have questioned whether Spears’ boyfriend could be charged with statutory rape, even though the two were in a long-term, consensual relationship.
Parents, particularly those with teenage daughters, certainly have cause for concern.
The Dixon case is just one in a long line of similar legal battles teens have faced in the last decade.The laws are designed to protect young people who have less information and power than their 18-and-over counterparts.For example, minors may be less likely than adults to understand sexually transmitted diseases, have access to contraception, and have the resources to raise a child if they become pregnant.Until recently, statutory rape laws applied only to females, ignoring situations involving sex between an adult female and underage male.Today, most laws are gender neutral, and a number of women in authority positions (such as Mary Kay Letourneau, Debra Lafave, Pamela Rogers Turner, and Pamela Smart) have been prosecuted for engaging in sexual relationships with younger males. While many states have strict statutory rape laws on the books, prosecutors have been inconsistent in enforcing them, says Mark Chaffin, a researcher with the National Center on the Sexual Behavior of Youth.
Georgia law, which has since been changed to classify this act as a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one year in prison, also required Wilson to register as a sex offender when he was released.