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Critic questions views of men versus women suspects in rape cases

The media and public tend to make it a high-profile story when a teacher and teen student have a sexual relationship. Statutory rape cases like that can even make for common joke content for comics or popular subject matter for TV movies. Lots of people, therefore, tend to form an opinion on the matter of teacher-student relationships.

Tom Moran for New Jersey's Star-Ledger recently reported on one matter regarding statutory rape that brings about passionate opinions. Essentially, he asks whether New Jersey courts treat male and female defendants differently with regards to the severity of their sex crimes against children.

He uses two New Jersey sex with a minor cases as examples of how the courts don't take it as seriously when a female teacher has sex with a teen boy. Both cases involved plea deals that either completely did away with jail time or significantly reduced the amount of time to be served for the female offenders.

If a male defendant had committed the same offenses as the female defendants in those same cases, suggests Moran, he would have gotten less out of a plea deal. He probably would have had to serve more time behind bars. Moran theorizes that this might be true because even judges have a hard time believing that a teen boy would be as damaged as a teen girl who has sex with her teacher.

Ethical and consistent sentencing is important in order to foster a fair criminal justice system that looks at evidence and not gender. Whether it is a man or woman who is charged with a sex crime, particularly a sex charge involving a minor, it is of utmost importance that they don't hesitate to rely on help from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

A plea deal isn't necessarily a good idea for a defendant, even if it means avoiding a lengthy prison sentence. Sex crime convictions come with other serious consequences besides jail time. Registering as a sex offender is a punishment worth avoiding if possible.

Source: Star-Ledger, "Sex crimes and teachers: Is sex bias at work? Moran," Tom Moran, Feb. 24, 2013

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