Jamie Lee Spears Pregnancy Raises Questions Over Fairness of Statutory Rape Prosecutions

The tabloid media are filled with reports that the sister of Britney Spears, Jamie Lynn Spears, is pregnant. What is missing from this coverage, however, is the disconnect with statutory rape cases where this pregnancy would be evidence of a criminal — albeit consensual — act. Jamie’s boyfriend, Casey Aldridge, is reportedly 19.

Statutory rape has long been controversial, particularly with the prosecution of teenagers. For additional legal analysis, click here

An analogous case was that of Genarlow Wilson, who was given a ten-year sentence for consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl. An honors student and gifted athlete, Wilson was preparing for college in 2005 when he was charged in Georgia with aggravated child molestation for having consensual oral sex. Though Wilson was only 17, Douglas County District Attorney David McDade and Assistant D.A. Eddie Barker secured a 10-year sentence for an act committed by thousands of teenagers every year.

There are two basic categories of cases. Sex between underage kids and sex between an adult and a child. Both have been prosecuted, though the latter is more common. This obviously turns on state definitions and where this possible offense took place. However, this is not an argument for expanded prosecution between teenagers. To the contrary, the point is that there is a troubling inconsistency in the treatment of these cases.States like Georgia have passed “Romeo and Juliet” laws that exclude teenage lovers — a worthy reform. It is clear that we need to reexamine what were are trying to achieve in these statutory rape laws. When they were first passed, enforcement of morality codes was one of the purposes — even against teenagers. Now, we are primarily interested in the older predator model. Moreover, teens are now having sex at a younger age. The result is that these laws criminalize teen conduct and produce only harmful results — with little effect on a national trend.

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51 thoughts on “Jamie Lee Spears Pregnancy Raises Questions Over Fairness of Statutory Rape Prosecutions”

  1. ok after reading all these replies…first of all anyone under the age of 21!!!! should go to prison wth??

    we are human beings and we have the right to our freedom to do as we like…the day u leave school (here in uk it is 16) u r technically an adult…you can leave home, work and so forth…so if u can do all of that why cant u have sex with the man u love?
    I gave birth when i was 19 years old…meaning i was pregnant while i was 18…. nothing happened, nothing went wrong, she is 8 years old and is amazing. I now have a 3 year old…again an amazing little girl….
    My children did not ruin my life..i went on to become a nurse which is what i always wanted to do. I dont dump them at the childminders for anything other than to go to work which most adults do anyway.
    I dont drink or do drugs…i dont live off the state and i have a wonderful partner who also works.

    I do not understand why there is so much fuss surrounding jamie being pregnant…. She didnt want it to happen but her and her partner have both accepted the responsibility of what has happened and plan to go ahead with it and raise the baby as best they can…they have been together probably longer than alot of ppl having children….so let them be and let them raise the family they are both about to do.

  2. Although this issue relates to american law I’d like to bring forward an argument that can be supported by some Australian state laws:

    In Australia the law varys in different states however in the ACT (australian capital territory) and Victoria the law states

    It is an offence in Victoria to take part in sexual penetration with a person under the age of 16 (Crimes Act 1958 – {s45(1)}). However it is a defence if the younger party was aged 10 years or older and the defendant was not more than 2 years older than the younger party ({s45(4)(b)}). It is a separate offence for a person to take part in sexual penetration with a person under the age of 18 who is under the care of the defendant ({s48}) (guardian, teacher etc).

    I’d like to highlight the defence that “if the younger party was aged 10 years or older and the defendant was not more than 2 years older than the younger party”

    This defence refers to the acknowledgement of young people consenting in sex at younger ages and that it has become a part of the way our teenage culture has changed over the past decade.

    Although it seems scary that children as young as 10 can potentially be having sex legally it does seem to make sense that if both parties consent neither should be prosecuted for those actions as teens these days do have a more extensive understanding of not only the consequences of sex but an understanding of sex in general.
    We have now come to live in times where young people know exactly what sex is compared to the days where “no sex before marriage” was upheld.

    Having said this, it is clear that Jamie-lynn and Casey Aldridge still would not be applicable to this defence were she under 16, however she is over 16 anyway which is legal in many states and countries all over the world.

    In reference to these “romeo and juliet” laws it seems that america should indeed review their current laws and consider creating a uniform law which covers all states so that the laws are consistant whatever that consistancy may be.
    The change in our youth culture should indeed be taken into account and a possible defence similar to that of ACT and Victorian laws should also be considered to end prosection of consenting young teens within close ages groups.

    Also this goes out the old fashioned comments and the comments made by people who believe that Casey Aldridge should be charge with statutory rape, it is time to accept the changes that have come about in the 21st century and whether or not you agree with it or would be happy having your children take part in sex at a young age, do not stand on your high horse and attack people you do not know for decisions that they have made on thier own. It is honestly none of your business nor should it be. What do thier lives have anything to do with yours accept as a way for you to vent your out-of-date views on issues you clearly don’t understand if you are judging so harshly. You should be far more worried about older sexual predators than young teens making thier own independent choices (whether they be right or wrong)

  3. I think that our current laws are archaic, backwards and contrary to everything we know about humanity to say the least. This is my take on it.

    Throughout a MAJORITY of human evolution (and we are talking hundreds of millions of years here) the average human life expectancy was somewhere in the area of 20-25 years. 99% of our species history most people never made it to thirty. Even in the past 100 years women and men getting married before they were 18 was considered normal. This is because for a majority of the time when someone was 14-16 they were considered MIDDLE-AGED. The possibility that they might not reproduce became likelier every year that they did age. It’s only in the past few decades as life-expectancy has improved where 18-20 is considered young.

    Contrary to popular belief, a young man of 18-19 that’s attracted to a girl of 15-16 is actually NORMAL and has been NORMAL for hundreds of thousands of years. We aren’t punishing these young men for being abnormal, we are punishing them because they aren’t responding to social conditioning. What is ABNORMAL in my view is Men or Women that are attracted to sexually immature children (i.e. pedophilia). Just because you don’t like the idea doesn’t make it any less true.

    Jamie Spears was fully cogent of the fact that sex causes pregnancy, and in her position probably could afford any form of birth control available to females these days. Why and how she became pregnant is up to her and her boyfriend.

    As to the other case mentioned in here where the man in question was given a 10 year sentence, while the other hasn’t even been questioned in the manner I will say this: That is probably one of the most horrible things that I have heard in awhile. It’s my view that he should be freed until the other man is charged. This is why I do NOT trust either our government or our legal system. If you are poor you can expect the law to come down upon you fully, however if you have some money in your pocket people don’t even look your way. The double-standards here are just too blatant and revolting.

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  5. Wow, I think it time for some real soul searching. First, the act occured in her home state Louisiana who’s statutory age (age of consent) is 16. Second those bible thumpers out there ought to be aware that Mary the mother of Jesus was 13 when she married Joseph and 14 when she gave birth to Jesus so in your veiw Joseph and God are pedaphiles and criminals. Third, the majority of religious text (i.e. the Bible, Quaran, Book of Mormon, Tora, Book of Shadows ect.) dictate mental childhood ends when an individual can diferentiate right from wrong and physical childhood ends when an individual is physically capable of reproduction (i.e first nocturnal emmision for males and first period for females) where these two merge is adulthood. Honestly religious or not these seem to be pretty good guidelines that have worked globally for thousands of years. Fourth making anybody accountable to a law that is not fair, hinders personal freedoms that do not harm others is in itself criminal the Constitution gives juries and the people remedy if they would just think for themselves and use it why would you put Jamie Lynns boyfreind before a jury when you dont even beleive Wilson should have been tried prosecuters are out to impress and make names for themselves the wilson jury should have aquitted him which is within their Legal and Constitutional rights. The simple truth is we the people his peers failed him so should we set ourselves up to fail more and remember its not just two now there is a third persons life and freedom at stake. Everyone mutures at different ages todays children are smarter and physicaly mature faster all this has to be taken into account or you make a virtual prison out of there lives until someone else dictates that they are old enough to feel and think. Sorry nobody has the right to impose that on another thats why I carry a rifle and swore an oath to serve and protect the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic and bear true faith to the same

  6. By the way, “pedophile” is, by definition, someone attracted to prepubescent youths. Sexual attraction to a 16-year-old is ephebophilia at best, which is not paraphilia at all.

    The abuse of the term “pedophile” clearly reflects how much this society infantilizes teenagers and gives parents uncontrolled “parental rights”. United States (along with Somalia) is one of the only two countries which refused to sign The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. What an exemplary action from a country which sings that “Human rights are universal values”.

  7. We love our freedom. Perhaps therre should be no laws against anyone having sex with whomever they wish whenever! That would protect our freedoms? Where do you draw the line? 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 yrs old? Lets throw it all out and say do whatever you feel. You want to steal you want to rape you want to kill. Lets all do what we want total freedom. Pedophiles, murderers, rapist etc.. HA HA

  8. Great article Turley. Thank you for directing our collective attention to the statutory rape quagmire which currently mires our legal system. You’ll the legal eagle so I defer to you totally in that regard. I’d simply like to add that Mother Nature doesn’t care about some state’s arbitrary age of consent. Human beings were engineered to procreate at 16 end of story. If parenthood at that age is not desired, then parents know the choices available including abstinence keeping in mind that it’s not always an option for some young ladies.

    I encourage your readers and you to not dismiss my commentary as the mindless ranting of a lunatic either. Another poster has submitted that in other countries a young lady of Miss Spear’s age would in all likelihood be married (by force or choice) with perhaps two kids, an assertion with which I concur fully.

    I’m not dismissing the culpability of the young man concerned, just want to cosign on the notion that the present patchwork of disparate statutory rape laws is in need of a major overhaul. Though I’ve never been too keen on federal intervention in family, community and state matters, we live in an increasingly mobile society, a trend which in my mind warrants the involvement of the national legislature in this business of age of consent and treatment of teen sexuality.

  9. dc.esq: what’s the elephant if now the fact that this is simply sex outside of marriage? we’re all (myself excluded) sitting here talking about age, when the fact of the matter is our society now is basically condoning sex outside of marriage.

    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

  10. In my naïve(?) opinion, the law is in place mainly to serve justice – whether it involves punishing criminal behaviors or compensating for the damage done wrongly. I think for the justice to be served truly though, the law has to be equally applied to all citizens regardless of their backgrounds. It is troublesome to see the inconstancies in how/whom the law is applied to. In many cases, politics/social status one is in plays a bigger role. In this sense, it seems the law itself does not represent justice, but just a tool; so I think equally important is how this tool is used; without consistency, the law becomes meaningless/irrelevant in my opinion.

    – AlwaysCurious

  11. The issue should not be whether these celebrities should be charged. The issue is why non-celebrities are routinely charged while this is treated as simply a matter of entertainment news.

  12. I agree with the person above. If it was forced or he was alot older I could see there being a problem. Since they, however have been dating and chose to have sex they have to live with the problem, but the court should stay out of it.

  13. “Any contact between two people under the age of 21 should send both people to prison for two years, with any issue confiscated and placed for adoption WITHOUT ANY POSSIBILITY of recovery by any relative”
    This is bullsh*^!!!! If two people love each other and really want tohave sex they can!!! STOP TRYING TO TAKE PEOPLES FREEDOM AWAY!! She has been dating the person and is only 3 years about they can do what the f&^% they want! Sex is apart of life, stop turning it into a crime!! WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE. Ya she got pregnant and may be to young tohave sex but it is HER CHOICE! So if they guy goes to jail this is bullshit!!!!They both chose to do this its a natural thing relax!

  14. I believe our society should draw a firm line in the sand and begin to take a unified stand against sex involving minors.

    Children have no business having sex at all and any adult who has contact with one is by definition a monster. As a deterrent should raise a Federal age of consent or marriage to age 21, overriding the more permissive state laws.

    Any contact between two people under the age of 21 should send both people to prison for two years, with any issue confiscated and placed for adoption WITHOUT ANY POSSIBILITY of recovery by any relative.

    Any contact between a person under 21 and a person over 21, even if the difference in age is as much as by A SINGLE DAY, should send the older person to prison for ten years and the younger person to prison for two years, treatment of issue as above. The older person should be registered as a sex offender, and both people should be BARRED FROM ANY FEDERAL BENEFITS SUCH AS STUDENT LOANS.

    The Attorney General of the United States or his designates in the various district circuits should have the power to bring charges against both people if no reports are made by parents or other interested parties. If the parents fail to report the crime then a judgment should be laid jointly and severally against all four parents to recover the the costs of prosecution and imprisonment.

    This unified law should be titled The Take A Stand Against Unlawful Sex Act.

  15. What we need here is a “Best of the minor’s interest” law, not all these complicated mess of Statutory Rape with Romeo and Juliet exception. It’s ironic that an independent and capable adult who really loves the “child” he impregnated will be jailed for years, while an irresponsible teenager who had consensual sex won’t.

  16. dee,

    It really depends on what State you are in, if this is in California, then it is illegal (the age is 18). But, the point of the article is not whether or not we should charge the man with Statutory Rape, but it is whether or not we shoul instate Nation Wide Romeo and Juliet laws. And, no race will not always play a major part in things, and that wasn’t even part of the damn article. This also has nothing to do with the fact that she is a star. Lean how to read moron.

  17. I cold heartidly think that it’s Statutory Rape. Look it up please! If she is under the age of 18 thats the freakin law!! But because she is a so called star she will not be delt with like the public! So unfair the world is. Race will always play a major part in things… no matter what!


  18. Yup that kid should never have had a 10 year sentance. It is unfair that race and social class comes into play.


    Don’t worry. No matter where you go you will most likey never be able to find a girlfriend. Not with your maturity level. Even skinny girls don’t like guy with your attitude. Not one with any self respect. The response before is a typical response of somebody sane and NORMAL without problems like you NOT a typical response of somebody fat. You are just assuming that because of the problems you have.

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