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1984

Sexual Abuse of a Minor or a Ward

Section 2243 defines two offenses involving a "sexual act" as defined in section 2246(2). Subsection (a) makes it an offense, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or a Federal prison, for a person to engage in, or attempt to engage in, a sexual act with someone who is (1) at least 12 but less than 16 years old and (2) at least four years younger than that person. The maximum punishment is 15 years imprisonment and/or a fine under Title 18.

This offense, like that described in section 2241(c), does not require the use of force or threats, or the administering of a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance. It applies to behavior that the participants voluntarily and willingly engage in. The offense is intended to reach older, mature persons who take advantage of younger, immature persons, but not to reach sexual activity between persons of comparable age. Corroboration of the victim's testimony is not required. Since subsection (a) reaches noncoercive conduct, and since some States permit marriage by persons of less than 16 years of age, subsection (c)(2) sets forth a defense that the parties were married at the time of the sexual act. The defendant has the burden of establishing this defense by a preponderance of the evidence. See H.R.Rep. No. 99-954, 99th Cong., 2d Sess. 16 (1986).

Subsection (b) of section 2243 makes it an offense for a person to engage in a sexual act with someone (1) who is in official detention, and (2) who is under the custodial, supervisory, or disciplinary authority of the defendant. The maximum punishment is one year■s imprisonment and/or a fine under Title 18. Corroboration of the victim's testimony is not required. Id. at 17.

[updated April 2000] [cited in USAM 9-75.200]