Kansas man accused of sex with minor argues state abortion law means victim was 16, not 15

Stock image, St. George News

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence man accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl unsuccessfully argued that he should not be charged with taking advantage of a child because she was actually 16 under a Kansas law that says life begins at fertilization.

Defense attorney Cooper Overstreet argued in a motion that Jordan Ross, 21, of Topeka, could not be convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child because, under the state’s definition of life, the alleged victim would be 16, rather than 15. The age of consent in Kansas is 16.

“Because of recent statutory amendments establishing that life begins at fertilization, the alleged victim in this case should be considered by this court as nine months older than her date of birth,” according to Overstreet’s motion. “Because of this, at the time of the alleged incident, the alleged victim would have been 16 years old and thus a charge of aggravated indecent liberties is factually impossible.”

Douglas County District Court Judge James McCabria rejected Overstreet’s motion, The Lawrence Journal-World reported .

In arguing against Overstreet’s motion, prosecutor Alice Walker cited a Kansas Court of Appeals opinion that said the state’s law defining life as beginning at conception applied to public health codes, not to criminal codes. Age is calculated by birth date, and redefining that to equate with “life beginning at conception” would “introduce an unacceptable uncertainty into the criminal law,” according to the opinion.

“Courts must construe statutes to avoid unreasonable or absurd results,” the appeals judges wrote.

Ross was scheduled to go to trial Nov. 26 but McCabria delayed the trial after Overstreet said he needed time to change his defense plan.

Ross was charged a year ago with raping the girl at a Lawrence party in August 2017, when Ross was 19 and the girl was 15. Overstreet had planned to argue the sex was consensual.

Recently, prosecutors added the alternative charge of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, which does not consider consent as a factor. The state needs to prove only that the victim was 14 or 15 when the sex occurred and that the defendant acted “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly,” Walker said in a court filing.

When the judge allowed the charge to be added, Overstreet filed the “life begins at fertilization” motion.

Stacey Donovan, the chief public defender in Shawnee County District Court and an adjunct professor at the University of Kansas School of Law, said she’s had sex crime defendants ask her to try the “conception” argument but she never did.

A hearing to set Ross’ new trial date is scheduled for Jan. 3. He remains free on $20,000 bond.
Written by ASSOCIATED PRESS with information from Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World.

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  • Comment November 28, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    I’ll just say it: I hate Kansas

    very strange scenario….

  • KR567 November 29, 2018 at 2:14 am

    I’m sure Kansas feels the same way about you

  • NickDanger November 29, 2018 at 7:26 am

    A witch hunt. There is no valid reason a 19-year-old shouldn’t be able to date a 15-year-old. Law Enforcement seems to constantly be looking for that age-line where they can arrest a teenager for statutory rape without seeming like a bunch of vindictive, overzealous busybodies. They haven’t found it yet. Show me a 19-year-old dating a 12-year-old and I don’t think I would have an argument with that. But 15?

    When I was 16 I was dating a 14-year-old girl. She was QUITE capable of giving consent, much more capable than me.

    I guess how I really feel, since I lived teenage life and remember it quite clearly, is that 14 should pretty much be the universal age of consent. I have a couple reasons for that, not the least of which is my direct knowledge of 14 being a perfectly fine age for giving consent.

    Another reason is, 14 is when most kids are already having sex anyway. It’s that unspoken thing – we (adults) know it happens but pretend it doesn’t. Time to stop pretending.

    Also, you ask any 14-year-old, and they will tell you they are capable of giving (or not giving, obviously) consent for sex. Ask a 12 or 13-year-old, you’d probably get the same answer but maybe not – there are plenty of kids that age who are still in puberty and might be just fine with the fact they aren’t supposed to be doing the wild thing yet. But by 14? Freshman year of high school? Yeah, they’re gonna SAY they’re ready whether they are or not, and that’s enough for me. I mean, this is just sex we’re talking about here, not murder.

    Anyway, I think Kansas is making fools of themselves with this case, but every state does the exact same thing with varying age numbers to determine the fate of their teenagers who dare to love each other.

    • Comment November 29, 2018 at 10:12 am

      Sorry, but a 19yo engaging in relations w/ a 14 or 15yo is clearly a case of a pedophile victimizing a small child…

    • AnnieMated November 30, 2018 at 12:13 pm

      A 19 year old dating a 15 year old is disgusting and wrong on SO MANY levels.

  • Mike P November 30, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    OMG ! Now that’s a stretch ! wow. How ’bout ” your honor, I was actually 12 years old when I first got that alleged erection so therefore, I myself, was a minor” Try that one, may work in Kansas!

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