When children act like adults....

Whenever I read news reports like this about horrendous crimes being committed by people society considers "children," I am reminded of the fiction of child innocence.

DETROIT (WXYZ) - The Wayne County prosecutor announced first degree murder charges against a teenage boy and his mother for the shooting death of a teenager who was playing basketball at a recreation center.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says 15-year-old Tremaine Davis shot and killed 19-year-old Demitry Jackson from Highland Park at the Considine Little Rock Family Life Center on Thursday, October 8.

Davis is in custody and is expected to be arraigned Wednesday.

Police are searching for the suspect's mother, Tarranisha Davis. She is accused of unlatching the hood of her van to allow her son to retrieve a concealed gun. After the shooting, she reportedly drove off with him.

Both mother and son are facing first degree murder charges. If convicted, they could both spend life behind bars without parole.

Tremaine Davis will be tried as an adult.

Well, he should be tried as an adult, for shooting people to death is an adult activity.

There was another case not long ago involving a 12 year old who is charged with shooting a 24 year old woman to death. While the boy has since confessed that he was trying to rob her when the gun went off, my post drew a number of comments (under different names but with the same IP numbers) which attempted to blame the victim by making an unsubstantiated claim that she was a "stripper." As I pointed out, a victim's occupation is irrelevant to a murder charge.

But suppose the 24 year old woman had been raped instead of murdered. I think her occupation might suddenly take on the appearance of being highly relevant. Should it be? I mean, if 12 year olds and 15 year olds can shoot adults, they can certainly rape them, can't they? Surely, teenage rapists should not be allowed to use the legal presumption that they are incapable of consent as a shield, should they? (At least onesource says they can. In another post at the same site, a teenage girl is warned that when her older boyfriend turns 18 he legally becomes her rapist.)

Surely, if a woman is raped by someone who is deemed legally incapable of consenting to sex, surely the law would not consider the victim's involuntary participation to be a crime, would it? It's not quite as clear as you might think. Here's the Michigan statutory rape law:

750.520d Criminal sexual conduct in the third degree; felony. Sec. 520d. (1) A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree if the person engages in sexual penetration with another person and if any of the following circumstances exist: (a) That other person is at least 13 years of age and under 16 years of age.
It is not clear to me whether Michigan's law imposes a strict liability standard. If it does, might it be possible for an adult victim of a teen rapist to be chargeable with statutory rape? Obviously, no district attorney would bring such a charge, but what if the kid claimed the woman had consented? Rapists do routinely make such claims as part of their defense. I would think that the victim's occupation would be seen as highly relevant, unfair though that might be. Which would mean that if, say, a high school LaCrosse team were to hire a stripper, and she did what these private dancers are often alleged to do, then she could face charges of multiple child rape. But would it matter whether she could prove that they had raped her? Or would such a defense not be allowed? I honestly don't know, but her occupation might be seen as highly relevant. Should it be?

It seems that some adult activities are seen as more adult than other adult activities. It's easier for a teenager to be seen as a murderer than as a rapist. Or are adult victims of teen murderers less suspicious than adult victims of teen rapists?

Childhood fictions are confusing.

Once again, the problem of feral kids challenge the traditional notions of innocence.

posted by Eric on 10.15.09 at 10:39 AM


"Feral kids" is an interesting expression, one that I like a lot. It has a certain "Mad Max" quality to it.

I think "feral oldsters" or "the feral aged" might be similarly good terms for the near future.

Montag   ·  October 16, 2009 4:10 AM

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