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Extraterritorial sexual 'conduct' leads to American criminal charges

When someone is charged with a crime in Maryland, it is assumed that he or she is being tried for actions that supposedly took place in Maryland. It is important that Maryland courts really only deal with the issues that occur within its borders because things that happen in other states or in other countries may have a greater stake in a criminal conviction. Though it did not happen in Maryland, one state has decided that it has the ability to criminally prosecute two men charged with statutory rape for allegedly having sex with three or four young women while overseas.

A recent decision by a state superior court found that even though the extraterritorial actions took place well outside of the state, that there was sufficient "conduct" to link back to the state, allowing for prosecution. The two men, ages 32 and 30, were employees of a school district and supervising a group of high-school students on a trip overseas. It appears that the alleged sexual intercourse was consensual.

While on a trip to Germany, four teenage students allege that the chaperones had sex with them, but the defense attorneys have pointed to a host of conflicting statements about the allegations. One student who said that she had sex with one of the men also reported that when she had tried to flirt with the chaperone that he refused to flirt back. He also made it very clear that she and her friends should not have come to his hotel room.

For these two men, the court's decision to continue with the prosecution could mean 10 years in prison, living on parole for the rest of their lives and having to register as a criminal sex offender for something that allegedly happened abroad. One of the men's attorneys said that the judge's insistence that their "conduct" linked them back to New Jersey was mistaken. He argued that their supervisory authority was not conduct, and that finding it as such could open up a considerable number of extraterritorial criminal prosecutions in the state.

While this statutory rape case is not happening in Maryland, this kind of precedent could have a dangerous effect on Maryland courts if it spreads.

Source: Fox News, "Sex charges stand in school trip to Germany, New Jersey judge says," July 10, 2012

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013