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Criminal Resource Manual

1981. Sexual Abuse

The primary federal statutes concerning sexual abuse are in Chapter 109A, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2241 to 2245. The chapter reformed and updated the federal law governing rape and other sexual offenses by: (1) defining the offenses in gender neutral terms; (2) defining the offenses so that the focus is on the conduct of the defendant, instead of upon the conduct or state of mind of the victim; (3) expanding the offenses to reach all forms of sexual abuse of another; (4) abandoning the doctrines of resistance and spousal immunity; and (5) expanding federal jurisdiction to include all federal prisons. H.R.Rep. No. 99-594, 99th Cong.2d Sess. 10-11 (1986). In addition, this Chapter carries forward the current federal rule that corroboration of a victim's testimony is not required. Id. at 12.

Criminal violations of Chapter 109A of Title 18 are within the investigative jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Supervision of criminal prosecutions under this chapter is assigned to the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

Chapter 109A of Title 18 applies by its terms in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, see 18 U.S.C. § 7, and in federal prisons. The Act also applies in Indian country to offenses committed by non-Indians against Indians, 18 U.S.C. § 1152, and to felonious offenses committed by Indians, 18 U.S.C. § 1153, as amended. Sexual offenses committed by Indians in Indian country are prosecutable only under 18 U.S.C. § 1153, and only if they are felonies under Chapter 109A.

The redundancy of the phrase "crossing a state line with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a person who has not attained the age of 12 years," appearing in Section 2241(c) and in the first phrase of Section 2243(a) has been eliminated by striking it in the latter statute.

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