Woman Charged With Statutory Rape of Husband
Had Sex With 13-Year-Old Before Marrying Him

By Amy Worden apbnews.com
Aug. 23, 2000

CONYERS, Ga. (APBnews.com) -- A 21-year-old woman is charged with statutory rape after giving birth to a child she conceived with a 13-year-old -- who she has now legally married, authorities said.

Summer Jessica Strickland could face a maximum sentence of 20 years for having sex with Tony Goss, who is now 14 years old. The couple married earlier this month, only weeks after she gave birth to their baby.

The charges are based on an Oct. 10 sexual encounter in which their child was conceived, said Rockland County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Ransom.

Law enforcement officials were notified by the Department of Family and Children's Services following the birth of Strickland's child in July, Ransom said.

Strickland was arrested Aug. 17 and was released later that day on $5,000 bond, authorities said.

'There is no case'

Prosecutors argue that just because the two are now married does not make their earlier sexual encounter legal. In Georgia, having sex with anyone under the age of 16 who is not a spouse is considered statutory rape.

Authorities said there is no age limit on marriage with the consent of the child's parents.

"There is no case," said Strickland's attorney, Sal Serio, who declined to elaborate, saying there were "privacy issues" involved.

Authorities said the only thing unusual about this case is that it involves a woman and a teenage boy. "It's common when the tables are turned and it's an older male," said Ransom.

Outdated, conflicting laws?

Legal scholars say the case raises compelling issues about sex and society today.

"You have two [conflicting] policies here protecting underage minors from having underage sex and a policy of keeping families together," said Linda Elrod, a law professor at Washburn University in Nebraska who specializes in family law. "I'm not sure a sex act should put someone in jail so that they can't raise the child they created."

Elrod said there was a related case in Kansas that considered whether a 16-year-old boy should have to pay child support for a child he fathered when he was 12. "You have public policy against people too young to form consent."

She said she would not be surprised if the case raises challenges to what may be considered outdated statutory rape laws.

"In many states you have a mature minor provision that allows minors to have abortions without their parents' consent," said Elrod, adding that sexual acts should be given the same legal consideration.

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This Page was created on 13th January, 2001