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Ohio Supreme Court Decides Juvenile Courts Can Dismiss Sex Charges

Ohio Supreme Court chambers.
Dan Konik
/
Ohio Public Radio

A divided Ohio Supreme Court says juvenile courts can dismiss sex charges against a child under 13 if the kids involved in sexual conduct were close in age. The decision in the case involved a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old.

In this case from 2013, the 12-year-old was accused of gross sexual imposition against the younger child. Though force wasn’t alleged, there were few details known about what happened between the kids.

Attorney David Strait argued to the court in May that the charge went against Ohio law protecting kids under 13, who are unable to consent and also can’t be charged with rape and other crimes.

“If both the offender and the alleged victim are within that protected class, then this distinction between the two breaks down,” he said.

Three justices agreed that juvenile courts can dismiss charges and order treatment, one justice joined that but expressed concern about applying this ruling to future cases, and three others dissented.