The Office for Victims of Crime has been pleased to provide funding to the American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and the Law to manage this project. ABA staff have done an excellent job reviewing current statutory rape laws and literature and interviewing professionals who work on behalf of teenage statutory rape victims across the country, resulting in this publication, State Legislators Handbook for Statutory Rape Issues. Through it, OVC hopes to help State legislators develop effective and enforceable statutory rape laws.
In recent years, prosecutors and service providers nationwide have reported troubling findings regarding statutory rape, including increased occurrences and their tragic impact on teens, teens inability to see themselves as victims, service providers reluctance to report these crimes to police, prosecutors reluctance to prosecute these crimes, and juries reluctance to convict the offenders. Many States are confronting these problems by reviewing and amending old laws or passing new ones.
Enactment of realistic, enforceable statutory rape laws requires consideration and evaluation of many complex problems and issues. OVC recognizes that legislators and their aides may need information and guidance as they determine whether to amend existing laws or develop new ones. Through this Handbook, OVC intends to raise relevant questions and issues for thorough discussion and consideration while providing a framework for developing legislation that makes sexual intercourse with a minor a crime based on the minors age.
We at OVC hope that the information and suggestions found in this Handbook help those in State legislatures keep the welfare of victims in mind as they craft legislation. It is hoped that this collection of knowledge, experiences, and insights of many hardworking professionals in the field and the victims they worked with will provide legislators with the information and inspiration they need to develop effective statutory rape legislation.
Kathryn M. Turman