Criminal Justice: Reasonable Rape

In Los Angeles, Francisco A. Hernandez met a girl, dated her for several months and then had intercourse with her. Illegal? Well, said Hernandez, she consented. Then why should the law care?

The answer is that Hernandez was guilty of statutory rape—intercourse with a girl who is under the legal age of consent. Hernandez went on trial.

Predictably, he protested that he honestly believed his girl to have been over 18, the California age of consent. But all the prosecution needed was that one damning fact—she was three months under 18. As a...

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