Re: Personal responsibility [was Re: Genderless societies]

J. R. Molloy (
Sat, 25 Sep 1999 09:08:32 -0700

From: Robert J. Bradbury <>
>I doubt very much that any court would ever hold a man responsible for
>the support of a child produced in a situation where he was raped.



What if, however, the man is legally incapable of "intending" to have sexual intercourse because he is underage? Is he still liable for child support? Again, the answer is yes.

In every case that has addressed the issue, the court has held that a man who was underage at the time of the conception of the child, and was therefore a victim of statutory rape, is nonetheless liable for child support. Typical of the reasoning in these cases is San Luis Obispo County v. Nathaniel J., 50 Cal. App. 4th 842, 57 Cal. Rptr. 2d 843 (1996). In that case, the court stated:

One who is injured as a result of a criminal act in which he willingly participated is not a typical crime victim. It does not necessarily follow that he is a victim of sexual abuse.

The law should not except Nathaniel J. from this responsibility because he is not an innocent victim of Jones's criminal acts. After discussing the matter, he and Jones had sexual intercourse approximately five times over a two week period.

50 Cal. App. 4th at 845, 57 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 844. Similarly, in State ex rel. Hermesmann v. Seyer, 252 Kan. 646, 847 P.2d 1273, 1279 (1993), the court concluded:

This State's interest in requiring minor parents to support their children overrieds the State's competing interest in protecting juveniles from improvident acts, even when such acts may include criminal activity on the part of the other parent.... This minor child, the only truly innocent party, is entitled to support from both her parents regardless of their ages.

Accord Schierenbeck v. Minor, 367 P.2d 333 (Colo. 1961); Department of Revenue ex rel. Bennett v. Miller, 688 So. 2d 1024 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997); In re Paternity of J.S., 193 Ill. App. 3d 563, 550 N.E.2d 257 (1990); Rush v. Hatfield, 929 S.W.2d 200 (Ky. Ct. App. 1996); Commonwealth v. A Juvenile, 387 Mass. 678, 442 N.E.2d 1155 (1982); Jevning v. Chicos, 499 N.W.2d 515

(Minn. 1993); Mercer County v. Alf M., 155 Misc. 2d 703, 589 N.Y.S.2d 288
(Fam. Ct. 1992); In re Paternity of J.L.H., 149 Wis. 2d 349, 441 N.W.2d 273
(1989). Cf. Division of Child Support Enforcement ex rel. Esther M. v. Mary
L., No. 94-33812 (1994.DE.19031), (mother of children did not have to pay child support for children conceived as a result of the rape/incest of her brother; intercourse was involuntary and nonconsensual).

The message from these cases is equally clear: If a man intends to have sexual intercourse with a woman and a baby results, the man is liable for child support. The sexual intercourse in these cases is "factually voluntary" and thus intentional, even if it is nonconsensual in the criminal sense.