‘ROMEO’ OFFENDER RULE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

South Carolina: ‘ROMEO’ OFFENDER RULE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Attorney General Henry McMaster in an opinion letter said a provision in the new sex offender law that bars prosecution of males 18 and younger for consensual sex with 14- and 15-year-old girls is unconstitutional.

The provision, as written, applies only to male defendants, which violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution, McMaster said.

The “Romeo and Juliet” clause of the new law reduced the age of consent for girls from 16 to 14 if the male partner is 18 or younger.

The new law also sets a minimum 25-year sentence for assault of a child 10 or younger and authorizes capital punishment for a second conviction.

Copyright Washington Crime News Service Sep 29, 2006

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