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Jury unanimity, and French kissing by a custodian as a form of criminal sexual abuse

Nov 09, 2010 Jury unanimity, and French kissing by a custodian as a form of criminal sexual abuse

Maryland’s highest court today ruled on jury unanimity, and on French kissing by a custodian as a form of criminal sexual abuse. Crispino v. Maryland, ___ Md. ___ (Nov. 9, 2010).

Crispino underlined that “[w]e have recognized, in Rice v. State, 311 Md. 116, 532 A.2d 1357 (1987), that a jury need not be unanimous with regard to the mode of commission of a crime, unless it constituted an element of the offense..” Crispino pointed out that “‘[A] jury need not always decide unanimously which of several possible sets of underlying brute facts make up a particular element, say, which of several possible means the defendant used to commit an element of the crime.’” Crispino (quoting Richardson v. United States, 526 U.S. 813, 817 (1999)).

Under Crispino, a custodial adult —- including a teacher -— who even consensually French kisses a student as old as 17, can be criminally liable for sexual abuse.  

With all the differing state-by-state ages of consent and laws governing sexual conduct and communication with minors, adults very often are in legally risky waters even when engaging in otherwise consensual sexual activity, sometimes even when the minors are as old as seventeen. Beyond the scope of this blog entry are the non-legal issues — including psychological, social, and abuse issues — that arise from adults engaging in sexual conduct with minors.

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