When Jordan Ross was 19, he went to a party and allegedly raped a 15-year-old girl. Ross is now 21 and on trial for that sexual assault in Kansas. His defense attorney, realizing where they were, attempted to use a strategy that borders on absurdity or evil genius (or possibly both).
Kansas law says life begins at conception. So defense attorney Cooper Overstreet argued that the teen girl wasn’t actually 15. She was approximately nine months older than that… which would make her 16… which is the legal age of consent… and therefore, by definition, this could not be a case of “aggravated indecent liberties with a child” (which has nothing to do with consent and only concerns the age of the victim).
“Because of recent statutory amendments establishing that life begins at fertilization, the alleged victim in this case should be considered by this court as nine months older than her date of birth,” according to Overstreet’s motion. “Because of this, at the time of the alleged incident, the alleged victim would have been 16 years old and thus a charge of aggravated indecent liberties is factually impossible.”
The good news is that no one was buying this. Not just because it’s a dumb defense that also highlights the bizarre logic of anti-abortion activists, but because it’s legally inaccurate. The prosecutor pointed out that the life-begins-at-conception policy applies to the public health code, not criminal law, so that defense couldn’t be used here.
The judge agreed and denied the motion. Now, a jury trial that was set to begin on Monday is being postponed to January while Overstreet comes up with a new defense strategy.
Still, this whole incident reminds us of why it’s so problematic for the government to claim, arbitrarily, that life begins at conception. There’s no one moment when a fetus magically turns sentient, but when the government goes to one extreme in an effort to pander to religious conservatives, we shouldn’t be surprised when someone tries taking advantage of that to get away with an alleged crime.
(Thanks to Jaynee for the link)