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Sexual assault: Statutory age of consent

It is important to remember that sexual assault is the most under reported crime in our society and every person and situation is different. Many victims of sexual assault may choose to deal with their trauma in their own way and often do not come forward to report the sexual assault for various reasons.

According to the Army’s policy, sexual assault is a criminal offense and has no place in the Army. It is incompatible with Army values and is punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Federal and state laws.

Sexual assault is defined as the intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault, or attempts to commit these acts. Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender or spousal relationship or age of victim.

There have been 15 reports of statutory rape at Fort Benning since January, according to Criminal Investigation Command statistics. Statutory rape is characterized as non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is younger than the statutory age of consent.

Knowing the age of the person you are going to engage in sexual activity with is vital. In Georgia if a person engages in sexual intercourse with anyone under the age of 16 and the person is not his or her spouse, they may be guilty of statutory rape.

In Georgia, statutory rape penalties can range from 1 to 20 years in prison. If the perpetrator is over the age of 21, the penalty is 10 to 20 years. If both parties are under 18 and there is less than a 4 year age difference between them, it is still illegal for them to have sex in Georgia, but it is treated as a far less severe crime

Soldiers are also subject to military laws outlined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 120 of the UCMJ states: A person that has not yet attained the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sexual activity. The maximum penalty for engaging in sexual activity or having sexual contact with a person under the age of 16 is life in prison without the possibility of parole, in addition to reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge.

For more information, call Rebecca Welch at 706-545-0892 or Michelle Fonseca at 706-545-8740. Soldiers may call the Fort Benning Sexual Assault Response Line 24/7 at 706-566-7393. Family members and DoD civilians may call the Military Police at 706-545-5223, Martin Army Community Hospital Emergency Room at 706-545-3710 or Social Work Services at 706-545-1661.