More Stories

Sexual Assault & Statutory Rape

Forbidden Love:
Is Statutory Rape Really Worth It?
Author: Alejandra Nolasco, Angel Mejía

José and María (not their real names) met at a party. 
They had a good time talking to each other. After a 
few days had gone by, they got back in touch. They 
started to go out, and, soon enough, they fell in 
love. After a few months, they got to know each other 
way too well (if you know what I mean). Later on, 
without planning it, they realized they were going to 
become parents. Well, José didn’t realize Maria’s age. 
María was only 12 years old, and José was 19. José had 
just committed a crime called statutory rape.
“Statutory rape is when someone under the age of 18 
has sex with someone over the age of 18–whether it’s 
consensual or not,” says Emiko Torres, Youth 
Specialist and Tobacco Prevention Specialist for 
Pájaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance. Not 
that many people realize that there is a criminal 
charge for statutory rape or the risk involved with an 
undeveloped young woman getting pregnant. 
When María went to her doctor, she was asked the name 
and age of the father. When the health care assistant 
realized José’s age, she automatically filed charges, 
which is required by law. María and her parents didn’t 
want to press charges against José, but the law is the 
law. Right away, a detective went looking for José. He 
showed María some photos and asked, “Which one is the 
baby’s father?” María wouldn’t tell. José’s identity 
was kept hidden from the detective and the detective 
didn’t have a clue as to where José was. 
María started to have contractions when she was only 
six and a half months pregnant. Doctors believed that 
the baby was going to be born with some problems. 
María was too young to have the baby and she needed to 
have a Cesarean. 
As Maria was going into labor, the detective spotted 
José in the hospital. The detective recognized José 
from his file of possible statutory rapists. Now the 
detective knew where to look for José. When the baby 
was born, María named him Luis. He weighed only three 
pounds. María was really worried about the baby’s 
health. “He had lung problems because his lungs 
weren’t developed yet; he couldn’t breath by himself. 
He had an infection in his blood, and his defenses 
against disease were weak,” said his mother. 
Watsonville Community Hospital didn’t have a 
specialist to deal with the baby’s health, so they had 
to send Luis to Stanford Hospital. At Stanford, the 
doctor told María that the baby was too small and 
didn’t have a high chance of surviving. 
“The doctor asked me if I wanted to bring in a priest 
to baptize Luis before  it was too late,” María 
said. “I felt like dying at that moment. The whole 
world was collapsing on me. But I had hope in God that 
my baby would get better.” 
While José and María were worrying about Luis’s 
health, they also had to deal with the possibility of 
the detective finding José. The young dad couldn’t 
visit his child in the hospital. When the detective 
went to José’s house, he had to hide. After various 
visits, José’s mom told the detective that he had gone 
to Mexico, and the detective finally gave up. 
Luis survived, but only after spending the first two 
months of his life in various hospitals. María, José, 
and Luis are still together as a family. After all of 
their problems and worries, their   love and hope has 
become stronger. They are very thankful and lucky, 
that Luis survived and José wasn’t arrested.