September 3, 2008
By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney
You asked if the law in Connecticut and other states contains a parental consent exception to the crime of statutory rape. Specifically, you wanted to know if a youth can be charged with this crime if the “victim's” parents condone the sexual relationship.
All 50 states have a law that criminalizes sexual conduct involving minors below a specified age, other than his or her spouse. The premise for these “statutory rape” crimes is that until a person reaches a certain age, he or she is legally incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse. In Connecticut, a person commits statutory rape when he or she engages in sexual activity with a minor (1) more than three younger if the younger person is at least age 13 but under age 16 or (2) under age 13 if the actor is more than two years older (CGS § 53a-73a). This law took effect on October 1, 2007. Prior to that date, a person was guilty of statutory rape if he or she engaged in sexual intercourse with a person two or more years younger than him or her and the victim was at least age 13 but under age 16.
None of the statutory rape laws contain a parental consent exception. To the contrary, in most, if not all, states a parent who gives consent to this conduct could be prosecuted for child abuse. Thus, a minor who commits statutory rape with his or her partner's parent's consent can be convicted of the crime. See OLR Report 2003-R-0376 for more information on state statutory rape laws.
In Connecticut, a parent (and any other person) is guilty of risk of injury to a child if he or she willfully or unlawfully causes or permits a child under age 16 to be placed in a situation that impairs the child's morals. This crime is classified as a class C felony, punishable by one to 10 years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine, or both (CGS § 53-21a).
Despite laws criminalizing parental consent for minors to engage in sexual activities, all states allow minors to marry with parental consent. Even with parental approval, many states, including Connecticut, require court approval when a minor is age 16 or younger. Connecticut's marriage of minor law appears at CGS § 46b-30.
A few states, such as Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, and Oklahoma allow pregnant minors or minors who have had a child to get married without parental consent. For more information on marriage of minors laws visit www.usmarriagelaws.com .