Letter to the Editor Feb. 22, 2013

By Baker City Herald readers February 22, 2013 09:45 am

Eighth-graders at BHS poses too great a risk

I read the Feb. 13 editorial in the Baker City Herald applauding Judge Greg Baxter, D.A. Matt Shirtcliff and me for raising awareness about the legal difficulties that could occur if a 16- to 19-year-old “has sex” with a 13-year-old eighth-grader. Allow me to further raise this awareness.

On Aug. 15, 2012, a Grant County grand jury indicted a man on a Measure 11 offense — sexual abuse in the first degree — for kissing a girl under the age of 14. Sexual abuse in the first degree is a crime that would require a person, if convicted, to register as a sex offender for life and go to prison for 75 months without early release for any reason. A colleague of mine is currently defending a man on a sexual abuse in the first degree charge for touching the knee of a 13-year-old. I frankly don’t know whether these charges will “stick,” but the fact that a prosecutor got a grand jury to indict a citizen on the charge is enough for me to want to further clarify that it does not require “sex” to face ghastly Measure 11 consequences and of the legal perils older high school students may face if we put eighth-graders in BHS.

The editorial points out that teenagers don’t restrict their socialization to school. While it may be true that relationships can develop anywhere — not just at school – I am pretty sure the vast majority of teen relationships start when the two meet at school.

Kids mature much quicker these days than when I grew up. If you don’t believe me, pay the Middle School a visit at take a look at the eighth-graders. Putting them in the same corridors where perhaps a third of the students they see are more than three years older than they are (and thus can be charged with Measure 11 offenses if they so much as kiss) is too great a risk.

J. Robert Moon

Baker City