Is Statutory Rape Really Worth It?
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.