As if underage sex cases needed to be more creepy or poorly handled. A judge has, and will continue to be, criticised after deciding not to imprison a 21-year-old babysitter who admitted to having sexual activity with the 11-year-old boy she was looking after.
Judge Tim Mousley QC gave Jade Hatt, the 21 year old, a suspended jail term for the offence, committed in November 2014 when she was 20.
Mousley reasoning for this, she was immature, while the boy was mature for his age. This was the judge’s criteria for a suspended sentence and because of the maturity issues he said that he was able to step outside normal sentencing guidelines.
He said in his ruling, “Having read everything before me, it was quite clear he was a mature 11-year-old and you were an immature 20-year-old so that narrows the arithmetic age gap between you.”
The judge was also swayed by the testimony of the boy’s own father who spoke up for Hatt in court. The father claimed his son was “fully up for the experience”. However, the boy said he knew what had happened was wrong and he said he had not enjoyed it.
This kind of attitude about underage sex with boys is a sickening. Nobody at the age of 11 is fully capable of understanding what sex is and what it can mean. When underage girls have sex with an older man it is described as them being ‘taken advantage of’ and yet every time there is a case of a boy being raped the comments always state that ‘he was up for it.’ How can it be one set of rules and biases for one gender on a crime as serious as this, and another for the other gender?
A six-month jail term which will be suspended for two years with supervision was imposed and Hatt was told she must register as a sex offender for seven years. Mousley also imposed a sexual harm prevention order banning her from having unsupervised contact with young boys for two years. Is it just me that feels that his charge is far far too lenient?
The children’s charity the NSPCC expressed concern at the message the sentencing sent out.
A spokesman for the NSPCC said, “The judge’s comments in this case send out completely the wrong message and confirm a common view in society that the abuse of a young boy by a woman is somehow less serious than the abuse of a girl by a man. The offender in this case has escaped extremely lightly and you have to wonder whether, in the same circumstances, a man would have been treated the same.” The public perception of cases like this are at the very least entirely different as mentioned above; women are ‘taken advantage of’ and boys are always ‘up for it’.
“It beggars belief that Tim Mousley QC could say that the 11-year-old victim’s maturity and the abuser’s immaturity ‘narrowed the age gap’ and was reason to step outside the sentencing guidelines; this sends a deeply worrying signal. The victim’s voice appears to have been ignored as, despite his own father claiming that his son was ‘fully up for the experience’, the boy himself said he had not enjoyed it and knew it was wrong. The effects of sexual abuse can be long lasting and it’s essential that this boy is offered the necessary support.”
Swindon crown court heard that Hatt was looking after the youngster as he had a day off school when she stripped off, removed his clothes, and had sexual intercourse.
Hannah Squire, the prosecutor in this case, told the court, “The defendant was friends with the boy’s father, with whom she had had a brief sexual relationship. He would ask her to babysit; she had babysat his 11-year-old son on six or seven occasions. On one of those occasions this offence took place. It was during the day and the boy was off school. The defendant arrived at about 11.30am.Sexual intercourse took place. She told him she enjoyed it, he said he had not as it was wrong.”
Squire said the boy’s father noticed he had a love bite on his neck and he found texts from Hatt that revealed what had taken place.
Police were called and when arrested, Hatt told officers the boy had told her he was 15, even though she knew his age as his father had told her, the court heard. Hatt admitted that she had had sexual activity with the child.
Rob Ross, defending, said his client was a small, immature, woman and the victim was very advanced for his years. He read out a statement from his father in which he said, “He [the boy] is sex mad. He would have been fully up for this experience and in many ways sees it as a notch on his belt and is totally unaffected by it.”
Ross would also add that Hatt “clearly doesn’t operate at the level of a 20-year-old” and was honest with the police about what had taken place. Honesty though should not be a mitigating factor in a statutory rape case, it certainly isn’t in a murder trial.
Claude Knights, CEO of charity Kidscape, said the language used in court to describe the young victim wrongly implied that he, again the child, was to blame.
Knights said, “This is a very disturbing case involving attempts to find mitigating circumstances. It must be stressed however that we are dealing with an 11-year-old boy who, however physically mature he might appear, is a child in every sense. He cannot be expected to have the emotional maturity to engage in a sexual relationship. It is very sad to hear this young boy described in terms such as ‘sex mad’, which somehow implies that he was to blame for the illegal activity that took place. We have to ask about the influences that this child was subjected to.”
This kind of talk of a child being sex mad feels all too much like me to be saying something similar to a girl can be raped for wearing provocative clothing. You’re state of mind is irrelevant in cases where you can’t possibly understand the ramifications of your actions. Bringing it back to the points made above if a girl was described as “sex mad” would a rape case be thrown out? Of course not so why should that be true for a boy?
Knights would go on to add, “Sadly the current sexualisation of childhood is well documented. The fact that he realised that what had happened was wrong indicates that he will have been affected by this regrettable incident.”
The boy himself could feel that it was wrong and yet he has been ignored in all of this. How a judge can make this ruling is legitimately astounding to me. He is a child and he hasn’t been protected by our justice system. Outrage can be the only response to this and desperate pleading hope that this judgement does not lead to a precedent which can only damage young children in the future.