On Friday, California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom, an acquaintance of New Mexico’s Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, signed a bill, S.B. 145 lowering penalties for offenders having oral or anal sex with a minor, giving California’s judges to have a say
According to The Hill, “The law previously in place in the state allowed judges to decide whether a man should be placed on California’s sex offender registry if he had voluntary vaginal intercourse with someone 14 to 17 years old and was no more than 10 years older than the person. The bill expands that same discretion in regard to voluntary oral or anal sex.
The measure won’t apply when a minor is under 14, when the age gap is larger than 10 years or when either party says the sex wasn’t consensual, the AP noted.”
However, the bill’s official Senate analysis is more clear:
Exempts a person convicted of non-forcible sodomy with a minor, oral copulation with a minor, or sexual penetration with a minor, as specified, from having to automatically register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registry Act if the person was not more than 10 years older than the minor at the time of the offense, and the conviction is the only one requiring the person to register. 2) Specifies that a person convicted of one of those specified offenses may still be ordered to register in the discretion of the court, if the court finds at the time of conviction or sentencing that the person committed the offense as a result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification
The bill’s analysis also notes an argument going against the bill would be as follows:
“SB 145 exempts persons convicted of non-forcible voluntary sodomy with a minor, oral copulation with a minor or sexual penetration with a minor from having to automatically register as a sex offender if the person wasn’t more than 10 years older than the minor at the time of the offense. According to the Child Advocacy Center, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. Additionally, approximately 20% of victims of sexual abuse are under the age of eight. This is absolutely unacceptable; as Californians, and law enforcement partners who are on the front lines called to sexual assault and domestic violence cases, laws like SB 145 will only enable pedophiles to prey on children closer to their age.”
California Democrat Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales said, “I cannot in my mind as a mother understand how sex between a 24-year-old and a 14-year-old could ever be consensual, how it could ever not be a registrable offense. We should never give up on this idea that children should be in no way subject to a predator.”
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) also tweeted after Newsom signed the bill into law, “As a parent I’m appalled that last night our governor signed a law maintaining a 24-year-old can have sex with a 14-year-old and it not be considered predatory.”
“An adult who commits ANY sex act on a minor 10 years younger must be registered a sex offender,” he added. “Law must be changed.”
So, the question remains for people in other states, including New Mexico: could such a bill, which loosens criminal penalties for pedophiles, be passed in my state?
According to NOLO, the laws governing statutory rape in New Mexico are as follows:
In New Mexico, it is illegal for an adult (someone 18 or older) to have sex with a minor (someone younger than 16), even if the sex is consensual. Those who break the law have committed statutory rape, even if the child agrees to or initiates the activity….
First degree criminal sexual penetration includes oral, anal, or genital sexual intercourse or penetration (however slight, with an object or body part) with a minor who is younger than 13 years old. The offense is a first degree felony, punishable by up to 18 years in prison, a fine of $15,000, or both. (N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 30-9-11, 31-18-15 (2018).)
Fourth degree criminal sexual penetration includes sexual penetration with a child who is 13, 14, or 15, when the defendant is at least 18 years old and at least four years older than the victim. The crime is a fourth degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison, a fine of as much as $5,000, or both. (N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 30-9-11, 31-18-15 (2018).)
Criminal sexual contact with a minor includes sexual touching between a minor who is younger than 13 and a defendant of any age. Criminal sexual contact with a minor is either a second or third degree felony, depending on the type of touching involved. Penalties for second degree criminal sexual contact include at least three years (and up to 15 years) in prison, a fine of up to $12,500, or both. Third degree criminal sexual contact is punishable by up to six years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. (N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 30-9-13, 31-18-15 (2018).)
Although New Mexico’s laws currently appear to protect children, the late notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who owned “Zorro Ranch” in Santa Fe County, never was on the state’s sex offender registry despite a guilty plea in Florida a decade ago. Despite one Democrat Rep. calling for action to ensure there are no loopholes for sex offenders in the future, no measure has passed yet. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham nor any Democrat elected leader has publicly commented on California’s new bill.
The increasing leftward shift in New Mexico, especially with this past primary election, where moderate Democrat members of the House and Senate were ousted by more “progressive” opponents, this could mean more policies like those of California’s Newsom could come to the state if Democrats win in November.
Although no members have spoken of proposing such extreme measures as California’s S.B. 145, a strong conservative majority of pro-family representatives in either chamber of the New Mexico Legislature can stand as a bulwark against any measure putting the state’s children at risk.