Blogs > HNN > Accused of Statutory Rape

Aug 31, 2005 10:48 am

Accused of Statutory Rape

The NYT features on the frontpage today an article about a young man of 22 in Nebraska who faces a statutory rape charge for having relations with a 14 year old whom he subsequently married. They now have a baby. They went to Kansas to get married because the law there allows marriage at age 12.

It's a fascinating story about marriage, changing mores, and our law-centered culture.

Reading the story I couldn't help but think about James Madison.

Madison tried to marry a 15 year old girl. Fortunately for both of them the girl turned him down. She became interested in someone her own age. James went on to marry Dolley, who was nearly 2 decades his senior.

Mores have changed so much that in two centuries what has landed a young man in court today was acceptable behavior then for a future president. (Madison did not have relations with the girl, but presumably if they married he would have, subjecting him to the charge of statutory rape if he were alive today and living in Nebraska--which may be the most far-fetched part of my What If story.)

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