Jamie Lynn Spears is 16 & Pregnant – What About Statutory Rape?
Posted on Dec 19, 2007 in Celebrity Justice, National Issues
Star of Nickolodeon’s Zoey 101, 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant, and says her boyfriend Casey Aldridge is the father.
They met at church, and have been dating for awhile. It’s unclear from current news reports how long they’ve been an item, some say as long as 2 years. Casey’s age is reported at either 18 or 19.
Britney Spears denied the story to TMZ, but US Magazine has a 16-page spread, and OK! Magazine broke the story, quoting Jamie Lynn directly. Their father, Jamie, is reportedly furious about both (1) the pregnancy and (2) Jamie Lynn and mom, Lynn, selling the story to the highest bidder.
So, what’s the law here?
Well, first there’s the statutory rape issue. Every state in the country prohibits sexual intercourse when individuals are under a certain age, even if they want to have sex. Consent does not matter, and the law can apply even if both are under legal age. For example, in Louisiana:
Section 14.80: Felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile is sexual intercourse with consent between (1) someone age 19 or older and someone between age 12 and 17 or (2) someone age 17 or older and someone between age 12 and 15. Punishment is up to 10 years in prison.
Section 14.801: Misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile is sexual intercourse with consent between someone age 17 to 19 and someone age 15 to 17 when the difference in their ages is greater than two years. Punishment is up to six months in prison.
So, calculation of the ages of Jamie Lynn and her babydaddy are very important, legally-speaking.
If (1) he was 19 years old or older and Jamie Lynn was between the ages of 12 and 17; or (2) he was 17+ years old and Jamie Lynn was 15 (not yet 16), then he’s committed felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
If (1) he was 17 – 19, and (2) Jamie Lynn was 15-17, and (3) the difference in their ages is 2 or more years, then he’s committed misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
Which may be why his age isn’t clear in the reports, and TMZ is claiming that Jamie Lynn is farther along that the 12 weeks she’s claiming, and that this will be a spring baby. Her birthday? April 4, 1991. His? dunno.
Looks like something has happened here that may be technically in violation of Louisiana state law, although maybe it’s a misdemeanor, not a felony. And, maybe not. It’s a math question right now.
And, of course, statutory rape laws are overwhelmingly ignored unless there is a much older perpetrator involved with a young child who is easily swayed and manipulated (think the several teacher-student cases of recent years) or where actual forced assault has occurred. Parental influences come to bear in these situations, as well – in instances of young love between two teenagers, rape laws usually aren’t seen as realistically applicable.
So, don’t expect any criminal brouhaha over this one.
As for the laws of child custody and child support, assuming that the two don’t marry, the father will have to show he is the biological dad – either by DNA testing, affidavit of acknowledgment, or some other legal avenue to establish legal parentage. (Jamie Lynn’s naming him as the father for a news report is not legally sufficient.) He will then have rights to vistation and custody, as well as the duty of child support.
Today’s loving couple can become tomorrow’s courtroom fight, and the law will protect Chris Aldridge’s right to parent the child, similar to the way that the law is protecting K-Fed’s today.