Does innocence ever grow old?

In today's Inquirer, I read that a rapist was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison. No ordinary rapist, he's been called "the worst serial rapist in the city's history." Something else is a little unusual -- his age:

A 15-year-old boy who has been called "the worst serial rapist in the city's history" was sentenced yesterday to 30 to 60 years in prison.

Michael Massey, most recently of the city's Logan section and previously of West Philadelphia, pleaded guilty in April in Common Pleas Court to charges of raping or attempting to rape eight girls and women.

The attacks occurred between July and September 2005.

His victims - all strangers to him - were 16 to 32 years old. At the time, he was 14.

Raping women is something we normally think of as an adult activity. So is shooting people.

For that matter, so is driving.

So why is it that if this same rapist had gone online and discussed whatever fantasies he might have with an adult, the law could in theory call him a victim -- of the adult?

At the risk of sounding like a mean, awful, and cynical person, I'd like to posit a hypothetical. Suppose a teen rapes an adult, and it turns out the adult enjoyed it, and comes back for more. Would the rapist become a victim?

Anyone understand why?

Is it because "innocence" is involved?

MORE: I don't mean to be offensive, but considering that Wikipedia has an entry on the subject, what are the legal ramifications of minors sticking their you-know-whats into one of these? Do they become victims, said to be incapable of consenting to the actions of whatever anonymous person might come along? Is age relevant in an anonymous sexual situation where neither party can be seen? Or is there a legal duty to know?

posted by Eric on 09.30.06 at 12:08 PM







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Hypotheticals have to have a component of believability

I haven't heard of anyone "enjoying" being raped and coming back for more.

I have heard of aggressive underage individuals "making moves" on adults. Such context is taken into consideration on what charges are brought against the adult (could be misdemeanor sex/w/minor charges) Lot of variables in CA law (our age of consent is 18).

BTW, we had a case a couple of years back with a fairly young man who did a string of rapes (between the ages of 17-18, so we could prosecute him as an adult on those incidents he committed at age 18)... all his victims were women over 60...he'd break into their houses and lay in wait (closets). He was caught when one savy senior (she was 67 y/o) pretended to cooperate ... well, maybe the details might be a little TMI, but let me know ... she got him to leave the room for a bit and called 911.

Maybe I've rambled far afield here..but the law takes the underlying view that while context matters, adults should know better, even IF a minor is aggressive (and the adult knows the individual is, indeed, a minor).

Darleen   ·  September 30, 2006 1:35 PM

I'm not saying a normal person would enjoy rape, because no normal person would, but I have known a number of people who had rape fantasies, and I do not think it is beyond the realm of the possible to hypothesize that enjoyment of rape might occur.

But we are not talking about normal here. Normal 14 year olds do not rape people. Normal adults do not rape people. And normal adults do not have sex with children.

But what is a child?

And what is innocence?

Sometimes the fictions which are forced upon us bother me; hence this post. Nothing I am saying in any way excuses or justifies an adult having sex with a child. No matter how guilty the child, the adult has still committed a crime.

Eric Scheie   ·  September 30, 2006 2:11 PM

Don't mind me, testing the comments.

Sekimori   ·  September 30, 2006 4:36 PM

President Bush signed the "Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act" in July, 2006. The key sexual predator provisions of the new law were written by Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fl.) Rep. Foley said at the signing ceremony that American children now have Federal protection from pedophiles, so that problem is now something for the history books. Rep. Foley is now ready to turn a new page - or maybe two!

Chocolatier   ·  September 30, 2006 8:08 PM

I understand that there are endless laws, but what is a child?

I have a bit of a problem with the idea that some teenager who's driving around in a muscle car, getting his girlfriend pregnant, and fully capable of whipping out a gun and killing me, is a "child."


And let's suppose that one of the Philadelphia victims of the 14-year-old had been carrying a gun, which she used in self defense. I'd be willing to bet she'd be the one in trouble.

For shooting a "child."

Eric Scheie   ·  October 1, 2006 10:58 AM

Darleen: My working hypothesis is that "rape fantasies" are a psychological defense mechanism— after all, for a goodly portion of history, rape as we understand it was not only a possibility, but quite likely for much of the female population.

If you think about it, the value of such a fantasy is that the "victim" is utterly in control. Sure, she's fantasising about a loss of control, but she mentally dictates the shots from beginning to end. I think this might be a good coping mechanism in the case of actual rape, just as mentally planning for disaster helps a person react well in the actual event.

B. Durbin   ·  October 1, 2006 8:49 PM

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