A case involving rape charges at a New Hampshire prep school wrapped up recently. The defendant was found guilty of two charges in the case: a charge of having sex with someone who is underage and a charge of seduction via computer communications. The former charge is a misdemeanor, the latter a felony.
The defendant was also charged with three other felony counts, but the jury found him not guilty on those charges. The felony counts he was found not guilty of carried sentences as high as 20 years; based on the two charges he was convicted of, the young man faces a maximum of 11 years in jail right now.
The defendant's attorney says that he felt the prosecution reached to charge his client under the computer seduction law. He said the law was meant to help prosecute online predators.
According to reports, the allegations in this case stem from activity that took place at a school party. A younger girl said the defendant, a senior, took advantage of her and frightened her into sexual activity. The defendant's attorney said the activity, which stopped short of intercourse, was consensual. One witness said that the girl told her she was willing to participate in sexual activities short of intercourse with the defendant.
Even with some doubt possibly cast on the consensual nature of the activity, the defendant's life has been changed with this conviction. When dealing with minors, juries and others often take a harsh approach when deciding on matters of sexual assault or abuse. Understanding possible perceptions and how they might impact convictions is an important part of a criminal defense strategy.
Source: Reuters, "Former New Hampshire prep school student not guilty of rape," Ted Siefer, Aug. 28, 2015