Split Ohio Supreme Court Rules Juvenile Courts Can Dismiss Sex Charges Against Children Under 13

Oct 25, 2017

A divided Ohio Supreme Court says juvenile courts can dismiss sex charges against a child under 13 if the kids involved in sexual conduct were close in age. 

The case from 2013 involves a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old. The older child was accused of gross sexual imposition against the younger child – though force wasn’t alleged, but there were few details known about what happened between the kids. Attorney David Strait argued to the court in May that the charge went against Ohio law protecting kids under 13, who are unable to consent and also can’t be charged with rape and other crimes. “If both the offender and the alleged victim are within that protected class, then this distinction between the two breaks down,” Strait said.

Three justices agreed that juvenile courts can dismiss charges and order treatment, one justice joined that but expressed concern about applying this ruling to future cases, and three others dissented.