Joy: I do and I don’t. Honestly, I have a problem with the concept of “statutory” rape. Either there is rape or there isn’t. I do think Romeo and Juliet laws like Pennsylvania or Texas’s (and I shudder to use TX as an example of reasonableness) make it “better” in a sense. But I still have a problem with them. Dane hinted at why. I simply do not believe that a 15 year old girl is capable of consenting to a 17 years and 364 days old boy, but a 14 year and 364 days old girl can’t. Nor do I believe that the 15 year old can’t make that judgment two days later when he turns 18.
To me, it should have to do with coercion.
Rape is rape. Either a person has subjectivity to make decisions regarding the sexual disposition of their body or they don’t. I am perfectly ok with saying that say, a 2 year old is not of sound mind and body to reasonably consent. I am perfectly ok with saying that most 40 year olds are (though honestly, there are some cases where I question this). Between these two levels, I think there’s a lot of gray area. I don’t think most 7 year olds are reasonably mature enough to give consent, but honestly, I think most 17 year olds are. And I think a lot of 13 year olds probably are, but no one likes to talk about it because we like to pretend that 13 year olds are “children” and therefore don’t have sexuality. They do.
So in this case, Hunt’s girlfriend was 14 or 15 (depending on which news article you read, which probably means where they were in the relationship) and if you want my honest opinion, I think it’s completely normal for a 14 year old girl to want to experiment sexually. Honestly, if she chooses to do so with a 80 year old, I personally feel like “Well, that’s her choice, even if it’s icky” (see Harold and Maude). But I don’t think their ages automatically should make it considered coercion.
On the other hand if they were both 19 and Hunt forced herself on the gf, or even manipulated her somehow (say, as in the case with workplace sexual harassment) that would be different. THAT isn’t consenting. But I don’t think anyone can make an honest case that in either of these two cases the sex (or sexting) wasn’t consensual. Maybe they’ll regret it down the line. But people regret stuff. It happens when you’re 15. It happens when you’re 55.
To look at the other extreme. Even though I said it’s reasonable to assume 2 year olds can’t consent, if you find a 2 year old and a 3 year old “playing doctor” or even going further and attempting to (consensually) mimic some sexual act they might have seen their parents do, do you prosecute either of them?