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“We know it’s more serious than someone striking someone when they grab someone on the rear end or the breast, but with the ways our laws are stated, especially on the adult side, it goes in as an assault through misdemeanor court.” And because 16 is the age of consent in many cases in Mississippi, law enforcement officials have had to pursue fondling cases of 16- or 17-year-olds as a misdemeanor.
In other states, where the age of consent is 18, those cases would be considered more serious felonies.
“There’s a gap here where it doesn’t matter if someone forcibly shoves their hand between my legs.
They say it’s like disturbing the peace, but it’s disturbing more than the peace,” she said.
This is in part because victims – like victims of all types of sexual abuse – are hesitant to come forward, law enforcement officials say.And at a chicken processing plant in rural Morton, at least a half-dozen women say their supervisor routinely came up behind them to grope them.In California, fondling carries a punishment ranging from a fine to four years in prison.For the first time in 50 years, the sexual assault section of the Model Penal Code – the go-to document for lawmakers who are rewriting their criminal laws – is being revised.Developed by The American Law Institute, the code is also taught in almost every first-year criminal law class in the United States.