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Underage sex is a crime under Wisconsin law

A young person's fancy might turn to thoughts of love in the spring, but Pierce County social workers are concerned about what kids are doing with free time in the summer.

In all of 2009, 16 children were referred to Pierce County juvenile court intake workers for having sex or sexual contact. This year, they reached that number by the end of July. Of those 32 kids, one was 12, five were 13, eight were 14, six were 15 and 12 were 16.

Children, Youth and Families Program Manager Julie Krings and Juvenile Court Intake Worker Julie Dollahon warn kids they should know what they're doing and what can happen.

"People don't know it's illegal," said Krings of sexual contact between minors. "Kids don't and parents don't."

The term "consensual" is irrelevant, said Chuck Golden, an investigator with the River Falls Police Department.

"No child can consent to sex, sexual contact," said Golden. Under Wisconsin law, a person under age 18 isn't old enough to legally give consent to having sexual intercourse of any kind, and a person under age 16 can't legally give consent to sexual contact.

Depending upon the age of the participants, both of them could be charged with a crime in adult court or referred to juvenile services for alleged delinquency.

State law is very clear, said Golden: "Even touching of intimate parts over the clothing when it's done for sexual gratification is considered sexual contact."

For more please read the Aug. 11 print version of the Herald.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.