In Pennsylvania, commit a sexual crime at 12, be charged at 25

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By Joshua Vaughn . . . James is a registered sex offender.

He was convicted in 2016 of felony statutory sexual assault when he was 23 years old for sexually abusing a 7-year-old girl, according to court records.

His name will appear on the Pennsylvania sex offender registry for nearly another decade and he will carry a felony conviction for the rest of his life.

Anytime James applies for a job, housing or school that requires a background check, his potential employer, landlord or college will know that he carries a child sexual assault conviction.
If James has children he will never be able to help out in class, volunteer to lead his child’s Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop or coach their sports teams.

But there’s a catch.

James was 12 when he committed his offense and, according to police, he was no older than 13 when the assaults ended.

It took 10 years for police to bring charges against James.

Had he been arrested and charged any time before his 18th birthday, James’s name would not appear on the sex offender registry and his criminal record would be sealed.

“That very much seems like a miscarriage of justice,” said Elizabeth Letourneau, director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

James is one of nearly 200 people on the sex offender registry who were convicted as adults for offenses they committed as youths, some as young as 5 or 6 years old, according to a review by The Sentinel of more than 20,000 people listed on the registry.

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