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21 Jan

Michigan has adopted similar legislation, and Illinois and California groups are pushing for those laws, too.

Benda’s father, James Benda, said teens convicted of these crimes face an uphill battle when looking for jobs and going to college because of the social taboos of sex offenders.

Knowlton pleaded guilty to the charge in March, but the conviction will be wiped from his record if he successfully completes five years of probation.

Knowlton was required to undergo treatment for sex offenders.

“It just doesn’t seem fathomable to me.” CRIME AND PUNISHMENT Weeks after George Knowlton started his senior year last fall at Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights, the 18-year-old athlete and honor-roll student was charged with felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having consensual sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend.

The relationship started months earlier when he was 17.

Teens and young adults sometimes aren’t aware of the possible criminal consequences of dating someone underage, attorneys say.

While Benda does not have a criminal record in Minnesota, the charges still show up in public records. In a hotel room two years ago after prom, Samuel J.County attorneys say they consider several factors before prosecuting these cases.They review the vulnerability of the victim, the relationship of the victim and the accused, whether drugs and alcohol were involved and the feelings of the victim’s parents.Other states have changed their laws to differentiate consensual sex from predatory crimes.Florida adopted a “Romeo and Juliet” law in 2007, allowing some people to petition the court to forgo registering as a sex offender.