Unacceptable defense
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

This case shows us that courting and winning the heart of a girl below 18 years old may lead to the imprisonment of her lover whether the latter is only in his early 20’s or late 60’s. The age gap between them does not matter at all for as long as the girl is still below 18 years.

The girl here is Minnie, who is only 17 years old, a sophomore college student in a university located at a city down south staying in a boarding house. The boy is Danny 23 years old. They met at the province of Minnie’s uncle who is a choreographer where Danny is one of the dancers.

Apparently Danny was smitten by Minnie’s beauty. So during one of the famous festivals celebrated in the city, Danny went there and visited Minnie. After spending some time together, Danny pursued Minnie to her room and pressed her to have sex with him. While Minnie refused his incipient advances and asked him to leave, she eventually yielded; and from then on they   became sweethearts.

When vacation time came, Minnie spent it with her uncle. After just a week, Danny was able to persuade Minnie to have sexual intercourse with him. This was followed by about five more sexual trysts between them in a matter of eight months during which Danny repeatedly assured Minnie of his love and even promised marriage to her. He also assured Minnie that she would not get pregnant because his methods in having sex prevent pregnancy. Due to these repeated assurances and coaxing, Minnie succumbed to Danny’ lustful desires.

A problem arose however when Minnie discovered that she was already four months pregnant and told Danny about it. Jolted and shocked about the news, Danny advised Minnie to have an abortion. She heeded Danny’s advice but her efforts were unsuccessful as she still gave birth one year after they first met.

When Minnie’s mother confronted Danny to find out what his plans were for his daughter, Danny assured her that he would marry her daughter. Nothing came out of said promise for one reason or another. And so, Danny was charged with the crime of violation of Republic Act 7610 or the Child Abuse Law for having sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child through coercion or influence, which is a form of sexual abuse.

For his defense Danny contended that Minnie could not be considered to have been subjected to sexual abuse through coercion or influence since she consented to the sexual intercourse. In fact they even became sweethearts. Was Danny correct?

No. Section 5 (b), Article III of R.A. 7610 punishes those who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse. The elements of this crime are: (1) the accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct; (2) the said act is performed with a child…subjected to other sexual abuse: and (3) the child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age.

In this case, the first and third elements are undisputed. As to the second element, a child is deemed subjected to other sexual abuse when the child indulges in lascivious conduct under coercion or influence of any adult. It exists when there is some form of compulsion equivalent to intimidation which subdues the free exercise of the offended party’s free will.

In this respect, the most crucial element is Minnie’s minority. She was only 17 years old and thus was not capable of fully understanding or knowing the import of her actions. She remained vulnerable to the cajolery and deception of adults like Danny who was 23 years old and therefore in a stronger position to force his will upon her.

So in child abuse cases under RA 7610, consent is immaterial. A child subjected to sexual abuse cannot validly give consent to the sexual intercourse with another person.  As such the sweetheart defense is unacceptable. Danny’s argument that he and Minnie were sweethearts is therefore irrelevant. Danny was thus sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 4 years, two months and 1 day as minimum to 6 years, 8 months and one day as maximum, and to pay moral damages of P50,000 (Caballo vs. People, G.R. 198732, June 30, 2013, 698 SCRA, 227).

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ABUSE APPARENTLY DANNY CHILD CHILD ABUSE LAW DANNY MINNIE REPUBLIC ACT SEXUAL YEARS
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