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“And it doesn’t matter what the gender is; if it’s the female that is the older one, she’s the one in trouble,” said Nguyen.
That means, for example, that teens as close as a 15 and a 17 year old or a 14 and 16 year old, depending on their birthdates, could be in violation of the law if their relationship becomes sexual in nature.“Just dating in and of itself isn’t illegal,” said Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander.
“We have ninth graders who go to school with seniors, and they’re intermingling.
“Sometimes from parents, but mostly mandated reporters,” said Nguyen.
“School counselors, social service workers, medical staff — if they’re aware of it, they have to report it.”And detectives have to investigate.
Proof comes in the form of pregnancies, medical issues and digital communications that go public.“Most of the time we question them and they admit it, but they think, ‘we’re both under 18, it’s consensual, how can we get in trouble for this? Often parents are under the same, misinformed impression.“The parents (of the younger teen) will be OK with it and think, ‘ah, he’s a nice guy’, and we’re not saying he isn’t nice,” said Glander, “but it doesn’t matter — it’s their age and activity that’s the problem.”Once the investigation is complete, the case is sent over to the county attorney’s office for review. Consequences Assistant Becker County Attorney Kevin Miller says when cases like this come across his desk, his decision to prosecute is typically already determined by the statute.“If there’s a crime broken there, you have to end up quite frequently charging it out,” said Miller, who does say every case is different, and therefore which punishments are sought can vary.
-- Two northwestern Minnesota teenagers from Becker County -- considered juveniles -- have recently been charged with felony crimes that not all teens or their parents even know about.
It’s having sexual relations when there is too big of an age gap.
The Forum News Service does not always report on the specifics of juvenile cases, but local law enforcement officials say it is a problem they see regularly.
For so many, the whole world of teen dating can seem like a gray area of what is right, what is wrong and what is too young.
But the eyes of law enforcement officials do not see those shades of gray quite as well; the law is black and white.
And when those laws are broken — even unknowingly — it stops becoming a parental decision and starts becoming a legal matter. The state has defined an appropriate age of consent, and under Minnesota statute, people cannot have any type of sexual contact with a child under the age of 16 if they are more than 24 months older than them.“Sexual contact is also defined as breasts and inner thigh areas,” said Becker County Investigator Kathy Nguyen, who says the level of charges is determined by how far those teens go.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating