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Rey Jimenez-Juarez v. Holder

The court held that a felony violation of Revised Code of Washington section 9A.44.089 (sexual contact with a 14 or 15 year-old by a person at least 48 months older) constitutes a crime of child abuse within the meaning of the ground of deportability at INA 237(a)(2)(E)(i), 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(E)(i).

The opinion telegraphed its outcome by gratuitously describing the offense as "child molestation." The elements of the offense described by the court, however, appear to permit conviction for consensual sexual activity between a 15 year-old and a 19 year-old.  Consensual sex with a 15 year-old may be unlawful, but it only became so in the U.S. over the last century.  It is hardly equivalent to the types of crimes one normally thinks of upon hearing the term "child molestation."

Moreover, little analysis accompanies the opinion.  The primary question is whether the offense amounts to "abuse."  The opinion answers the question simply by stating the conclusion: "Section 9A.44.089 makes illegal the act of touching the sexual or other intimate parts of the victim when the victim is either 14 or 15 years old and the perpetrator is at least forty eight months older. This conduct, at a minimum, constitutes maltreatment of a child and impairs the child’s mental wellbeing."  This is hardly obvious in the case of consensual sexual activity between a 15 year-old and a 19 year-old.

Read the opinion at