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For more information on statutory rape and the history of this crime, see Statutory Rape Statutory rape laws are premised on the assumption that minors are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual activities.Their incapacity is written into the statute—hence the term “statutory” rape.
Over 60 percent of the population lives in the states that set the age of consent at 16 or 17, regardless of how one counts Texas. The ages of consent throughout the country were apparently 10 or 12 throughout much of the 1800s; they then rose to 16 or 18 by 1920, according to Mary Odem’s “Delinquent Daughters: Protecting and Policing Adolescent Female Sexuality in the United States, 1885-1920,” and there have been minor fluctuations since then.
Of course, rape that does involve force or an assault is illegal in Washington and prosecuted as forcible rape (see Washington Sexual Battery Laws).
Assaults of a sexual nature may also be charged under the state’s assault and battery or child molestation or enticement laws (to learn more, see Aggravated Assault Laws in Washington and Child Enticement in Washington).
I often see people assuming that sex with under-18-year-olds is a crime (statutory rape); for instance, some comments on the 17-year-old gets help in lying about age to get abortion; later, she and her mother sue helper (the boyfriend’s mother) for providing the help thread assumed that the sex must have been a crime — though the age of consent in Indiana, the state where the sex likely took place, is 16.
Indeed, the great majority of states set the age of consent at 16 or 17, and many states set even lower ages of consent where the parties are close in age to each other. Let’s start with what I call the “general age of consent”: The age at which it’s not statutory rape for anyone (except a relative or someone in a particular sort of position of authority) to have sex with the person.