Probably the one place no mom or dad wants to be right now is in the shoes of the parents of the five girls who, along with three boys, are headed for juvenile court on sex charges.
Remember: The three Evans boys were arrested back in March and charged as adults with aggravated child molestation -- a crime that carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Five girls performed oral sex on the boys, and when the parents of a couple of the girls found out, they went to the police -- and the boys were arrested.
Last week, District Attorney Danny Craig shook up the debate over teen sex when he transferred the boys' case to juvenile court -- and levied the same charges against the girls.
So those girls' parents, who went to the cops to get the boys in trouble, wound up getting all their kids in court.
That may not be where they wanted all this to land, but it's a good start. From the beginning, this case bore little resemblance to a couple of other high-profile teen-sex cases: the Marcus Dixon case in Rome, overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court; and the Chad Muns case here, where the Martinez teen is awaiting trial on 16 sex-related charges involving three girls.
One key difference, as pointed out in Craig's order dropping the felony charges and sending the whole thing to juvenile court: "The investigation has revealed that there was no evidence of force and that the female defendants, although younger than the male defendants, were the principal aggressors," Craig's order says. Unlike the allegations in those other two cases, the girls weren't forced into anything.
So while the boys may have been willing participants, Craig's order makes it clear the girls were, too. If the parents were focused on their girls strictly as victims -- and who could blame them for wishful thinking? -- having those teens portrayed as sexually charged sluts-in-training can't be comfortable.
There is one other big difference, too; in the initial stories -- though not on these pages -- the names of all three boys were publicized, while the identity of their "victims" was protected. Even though it's all now transferred to juvenile court where names are generally not used, the genie is out of the bottle; the entire community knows who the boys are, while the "aggressive" girls bear no similar stigma.
This case serves one useful purpose: It highlights the absurdity of criminalizing teen sexual activity. Georgia has tough laws designed to protect children from sexual exploitation by adults, but those laws need changing when teens can potentially go to prison for sexual exploration with each other.
Just a week before moving the Evans case to juvenile court, Craig was one of several officials making presentations to the state Senate Study Committee on Youth and Crime in Atlanta. The committee is expected to propose changes in state law, including mandatory minimum sentences that tie judges' hands, and quirks that make oral sex with a minor more serious than sexual intercourse.
It's a tightrope, and lawmakers must carefully balance the public's desire for protection for their children with a realistic view of what some of those children themselves are capable of doing.
Meanwhile, parents have to understand that in Georgia, the stuff they may have gotten away with when they were teens on Lover's Lane can land their own children in jail. It's serious stuff, and they'd better take it as seriously as those Evans girls' parents no doubt are now.
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